The myth of gender equality among Muslim Americans

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When my husband and I leave for work together every morning, we have completely different experiences. I keep thinking that I am making a choice to go to work and leave my child. My husband walks out with the satisfying knowledge that he is fulfilling his duty as a father and husband by going out to provide for his family.
I am guilt-stricken that I’m not living up to the standards of ideal motherhood, and I’ll once again spend the day with half my mind at home. My husband has never displayed signs of having any similar qualms about working. His choices are broadly supported by our community, and unlike me, he is never asked at social gatherings if he is “still working,” or questioned about who cares for his son, cooks meals, or cleans the house.

While my experiences as a working mother in America are in many ways similar to those of other American women, the frustration I feel is strongly tied to my identity as an American Muslim. I had not realized, and I think most young Muslim American women do not know, that while our community has progressed enough to encourage women’s education, it has not made similar strides in supporting women’s careers. Instead, the standards we seek to impose come from a tangled mix of cultural, religious, and social perceptions which are impossible for working women to satisfy. The result is the kind of guilt that I battle daily, and the kind of pressure that leads so many educated Muslim American women to forego their careers. The same progressiveness that led to the current support for women’s education must guide us to a new thinking about working mothers. The paradigm of gender roles in the modern Muslim American family must shift to accommodate the realities of life in this time and country, and to ensure that Muslim American women have the chance to flourish both personally and professionally.

We must begin by reassessing our narrow views about motherhood and maternal love. Among the most important sources of our perceptions about maternal excellence is the Quran, which has several examples of mothers we venerate. Each of these women exhibited certain characteristics which have come to define what we consider an excellent mother. There is Mariam (Mary), the mother of Prophet Isa (Jesus) who faced the condemnation of her community to give birth to her child, and steadfastly supported him through terrible tribulations. There is Hajira (Hagar), the mother of Prophet Ishmael, who ran frantically between the hills of Safa and Marwah to seek water for her dying child. Her devotion and selflessness are celebrated by Muslims to this day as they follow her footsteps to traverse between those same hills. There is Aasiya, the adoptive mother of Prophet Moses, who turned away from worldly goods and faced the wrath of a king to protect and support her child.

These mothers loved their children fiercely, took great chances to protect them, and above all, put their children before themselves. It seems that our community expects to see the true reflection of these ideals in the parenting of stay-at-home mothers (the other source of our perceptions about ideal motherhood). Mothers are expected to express their love through clean homes, homemade dinners, and constant vigilance over playmates, exam schedules, and extra-curricular activities. More importantly, they are expected to express their selflessness by choosing to dedicate their daily lives to their children. If they choose to work and entrust others with the care of their children, they automatically fall short.

This is an impractical standard and fails to take into account the benefits working mothers provide to the family. Because working mothers have more limited time, they are more motivated to maximize the quality of the time they spend with their children. They manifest their maternal selflessness by sacrificing precious time with their children for the entire family’s current and future financial security. They provide examples of strong and independent Muslim women who are making a difference, and using the skills they accrue in their professional capacities to be better mothers, wives, and managers of their homes. The sons of working mothers are less likely to assume that girls are inferior to and dependent upon boys, or that girls should be treated differently because of their gender. A professional mother’s children will know the tangible and intangible rewards of hard work and a good education, and hopefully will encourage their own daughters to pursue their dreams.

Another aspect of this skewed concept of maternal selflessness is our community’s belief that women should not have to work except when absolutely necessary to financially sustain the family unit. The Quran provides that while women should breastfeed their children for two years, the duty to financially provide for them rests on their husbands. If they are divorced, they may even receive compensation by their husbands for breastfeeding the children. (Surah al-Baqarah 2:233) This delineation of financial responsibilities in the family leads many in our community to conclude that middle class women who work are doing so out of choice. This is out of sync with the economic reality of raising middle-class families in America, of women who often have educational debts, and who are co-signers of everything from family credit cards to home mortgages. This also ignores the fact that leaving the profession for the years it takes to get the children old enough to be in school full time is impractical for many in competitive professions. Though the advice is commonly given to women (never men), the reality is that American employers don’t just sit around waiting for employees to return after a six year hiatus. Further, changes in technology and regulation require many professionals to maintain a constant engagement in their professions or risk greatly reducing any chances of future employment in the field.

A further problem for educated women is that our approach to marriage is outmoded. In even the most liberal families, women are pressured to marry as soon as they finish their degrees. If they are already married, they are pressured to have children. And, once the children arrive on the scene, all the reassurances that “beta, you are the same as any boy!” fade into a distant memory. It becomes clear then that gender roles within marriage are indeed very different, and while both men and women may have been encouraged to pursue high-stress, high-powered professions, only men receive the family and the community’s backing to continue in their pursuit of professional excellence. Women, in contrast, are expected to pursue their “real” careers as mothers, and to channel their educations into raising pious and professionally successful children. Also problematic is the community’s apparent attitude that the highest measure of a woman’s success is the husband she manages to nab because of her degree, not the career she pursues.

As a result, families with two working parents are expected to always put a premium on the man’s job. He is never expected to curtail his hours or relocate for the sake of the woman’s job. She may make more money or have a more prominent position, but he’s always considered the real bread-winner. Even in situations where it makes more financial sense for him to remain home with the children, there is the implicit understanding that the community and family would find such a situation unacceptable.

Though all of these attitudes exist in greater American society, there is an emergent acceptance of alternative working arrangements which seems missing from our community. To progress as a community, we have to focus on this problem, and realize that our present attitude will continue to lead professional women to forgo their careers and deter future generations of women from even bothering to consider higher education.

(Photo by Big Grey Mare via flickr)
Uzma Mariam Ahmed is a contributing writer to Altmuslimah. This article was originally published on AltMuslimah on June 21, 2010.

24 Comments

  • Enith says:

    I loved your article, Uzma!  It touched on the struggle, hesitation, guilt, and frustration I face as a career-oriented Muslimah. Thanks for putting in writing what so many sisters feel.  It’s in itself comforting.

  • Saadia says:

    “His choices are broadly supported by our community, and unlike me, he is never asked at social gatherings if he is ???still working,??? or questioned about who cares for his son, cooks meals, or cleans the house.”

    I agree that women get socially pressured more often, and as you mentioned, it continues after becoming a working mother (even though I am not one myself.)

    This article makes some interesting points.

    “A professional mother???s children will know the tangible and intangible rewards of hard work and a good education, and hopefully will encourage their own daughters to pursue their dreams.”

    I know many hardworking mothers who don’t work professionally but still encourage the dreams of their children. But the fact is that practicality still comes into the picture – that is, the desire that mothers express to see their children secure, supported, and financially well-off. In the most basic sense it has meant to get married, but many parents want a career for their children too.

    The question is now often about diverting from the expected career paths that are known to be secure and lucrative.

  • Sadrul says:

    Beautiful article, thanks for sharing – my wife went back to work just after birth of our son and daughter. Being professional, working as computer analyst, it was professional suicide and total destruction of her career to stay away from work force for couple of years. We both made conscious decision and decided to provide quality time instead of my wife sitting at home and giving quantity of time. I know, for sure, because we had discussed once in detail, there was no guilt or hesitation, we concentrated on our goal ??? our goal was to raise good productive well balanced children, no to please people in the community or friends or strangers.  Unconditionally had dinner together with children, Sunday after breakfast was family get together time, no exceptions, attended Boy Scout, ballet, PTA, recital, on regular base met with teachers, make extra effort to stay involved, create influence and guiding our children. I believe if parents don???t get involved in the lives of their children then someone else will, that person???s motives may not be sincere. Due to financial strength we were able to provide quality education, paid for their education, took them all over the world on vacations, which gave them panoramic view of the world. Today we have highly educated, best in their field, well rounded children. Every time I see a mom stay at home working like baby a sitter, I wonder, is she really providing best care, is she really involve in her children???s wellbeing.

  • edabdalghafur says:

    “The paradigm of gender roles in the modern Muslim American family must shift to accommodate the realities of life in this time and country, and to ensure that Muslim American women have the chance to flourish both personally and professionally.”

    The reality of life in this time and country is that marriage is not only falling apart, but is beginning to appear increasingly irrational.  So how is it that marriage can accommodate the realities of life in this time and country?  See this week’s Newsweek, “The Case against marriage.”  This isn’t the first in this genre of writing.  See also “Lets call the whole thing off” by Sandra Tsing Loh.  http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2009/07/let-8217-s-call-the-whole-thing-off/7488/ 

    You seem to think that personal and professional fulfillment are so inviolable that to ask for concessions in this area for the sake of marriage is to violate a woman’s dignity. God forbid a woman has to forgo being a slave to the market place.  And somehow this slavery is personal ‘fulfillment’? This is sort of thinking that drives Sandra Loh and Jessica Bennet, except their conclusions follow from their premises.  For them marriage is irrational and outdated, somehow you think like them as far as a woman’s fulfillment goes, but come to a different conclusion. This requires explanation if you are to avoid incoherence. 

    Your piece strikes me as naive, or idealistic at best, because you expect all the changes in womens roles that have occurred over the last century with none of the associated weakening of marriage.  Now of course the shift in gender roles are not the only thing that has affected marriage adversely, there are other social and cultural shifts that have occurred and can’t obviously be turned back.  And its not as if the future of marriage must be hopeless, but in order to avoid such a fate, there must first be acknowledgement that marriage is largely in shambles, some understanding of why it is so, and some provisions about how we are to adapt to a new social and cultural climate while avoiding the fate of so much modern marriage. 

    You offer very little of that, except for the usual implicit feminist diatribe about how a woman should never be allowed to be defined by her sex.  (effectively making gender an arbitrary and meaningless distinction)  Which means in this context that motherhood shouldn’t hold back her career in anyway.  If you’ve learned anything from the history of the modern west you should know that this sort of thinking has created more problems than its solved.

  • ghina says:

    @edabdalghafur

    Sometimes being a slave to the marketplace keeps one from being a slave to an untenable situation.  Life is like a box of chocolates.

    You seem disturbed that the author assumes a rosy picture of marriage and wants to change her role while keeping her assumption.  But the author is not obligated to present your side of the story.  Why don’t you write an article yourself on your topic?

  • asmauddin says:

    As well, I’d counter that not all jobs are about being ‘slaves to the marketplace’ – how about those that are all about giving back to the world using your God-given talents?

    One thing that has always bugged me about the working mothers debate is the fact that it classifies all women into a single box, whereas we are all incredibly diverse. Some of us have ambition literally etched into our genes. We are wired to constantly wonder and philosophize about higher issues, and we want to apply our insights through activities and jobs that necessarily require us to be outside the home. So is it somehow against God’s plan for us to do what we are spiritually called to do?

  • OmarG says:

    So, the kids should raise themselves?? Someone, father or mother ought to stay home with young ones, or after school for older ones. My mother always did that, and I still remember fondly trying to race home before her to make her tea. My dad was hardly ever there; I never even considered making him a thing at all…

  • OmarG says:

    Also, I might suggest that those who are very ambitious and dedicated to careers should consider not having children and only having disposable relationships; it seems to be the only kind of relationship they can deal with.

  • Saadia says:

    Words are often used metaphorically, or even in word games, but I think it could be useful to sometimes go back to the real and literal meaning of words and symbols (as long as the intent is known).

    Regarding Asma’s comment, women who don’t work are also diverse. Some just don’t have their ambitions fulfilled. That is the whole point about women’s development – in that respect, I agree about the need to work in a job where women can contribute their God given talents or at least have their talents nurtured from a starting point.

    Too often, a looming issue is that mothers who work are compared with those who don’t work in their ability to be a good mother, rather than taking women as unique individuals with their own qualities and merits. We all get a certain reward for our efforts.

  • Enith says:

    @OmarG – Look for upcoming article on this very same topic: having and making the choice NOT to have children.

    I am a firm believer that you can do it all, and that family and career can be managed simultaneously (i.e. delicate balance that all working mothers strive towards)if you have the optimum support system in your spouse, family, friends, and society at large.

    For some women, not pursuing a career is NOT an option.  It’s in their blood, and relegating this inner drive would make them miserable mothers full of resentment, resulting in unhappy children and far from harmonious marriage and household.

  • asmauddin says:

    OmarG,

    I think you’re thinking of work as all the same. The lifestyle that comes with corporate work is quite different than the lifestyle of a non-profit or government job. Some jobs require 80 hours in the office; others way less, and sometimes we can work from home 100% of the time. It’s wrong to assume that working women can’t find flexible work schedules that help balance family and work – or to assume that there is no such thing as balance. Even the author of this article is on a 75% schedule with her law firm.

    I consider myself pretty ambitious, but I also always find time for my husband and daughter. So I don’t understand your comment about ambitious women not having kids or seeking only disposable relationships (maybe you’re defining ‘ambitious’ in a limited way?).  If you have a supportive husband, having work and kids is possible, and if you have the type of supportive community the author speaks of, that balance maybe be even easier to achieve.

  • ghina says:

    @OmarG

    There seems to be a false dichotomy here.  A grandmother could stay home, and aunt etc In a “joint family system” children do not have to lose out on love because there is not just one model for behavior affection of either sex.

    I assume you now appreciate your father, even if you couldn’t when you were younger?

    We needn’t move to the nuclear family model if we can avoid it, it seems the minimalist way to go.

  • Saadia says:

    I actually still have the ambition to study law myself but it seems to scare people. Many people are ambitious and I don’t see why that should be a problem.

    Asma: Aren’t you the one who used the ’ marks in your ‘defenders of truth’ comment? Or is going back to my own essay about the Renaissance? The meaning is ambiguous.

    In general other people’s wording hasn’t been held to the same standard of mine.

  • Saadia says:

    Actually I’ll add an addendum that should be obvious since I already got a response to my previous comment. I also have other educational and career interests.

  • asmauddin says:

    Ed,

    Altmuslimah isn’t trying to be everything for everyone. It’s an online forum for the diverse viewpoints our community members hold with regard to gender and Islam. Some writers may want to engage with broader intellectual debates, but this is by no means required of them nor is it the purpose of this website.

    As for my other basic answers – they were in response to OmarG’s basic questions/comments, which really did make the question about whether women should work or not. In my response to him, I tried to complicate the definitions of ambition and work, including in my discussion the issue of *balance* – which should make clear what my view is on “whether the expectation that a woman sacrifice in any respect career ambitions is legitimate, or whether it is an affront to her dignity as a woman, and her alleged ???right??? to career advancement.”

    I am not assuming a rosy picture of work. I am simply trying to counter a view of work as uniformly about drudgery and long hours slaving away for money. I, personally, do work a job that requires intellectual stamina – while also providing a completely flexible work schedule. I count myself extremely lucky, and recognize that such a situation is rare, but the fact is – it exists. Do others’ views about working then apply to my situation? I’m not trying to narrow the debate, but simply trying to nuance it.

    As for your question, “So is paid work outside the home the only way to pursue God-given talents?” I’m not sure why you’re asking this, given the fact that I never created this overly simplistic and false dichotomy about whether God-given talents can only be used inside or outside the home.

    “You, and the author, and much of mainstream america seem to share the notion that the primary good in our life to which we should devote much of our time and attention is our career, for men and for women.” I’m not sure where you’re getting this from. The author, and those who like her article, are saying that it’s common and accepted to focus on what’s lost when women leave the home, but rarely is it discussed (at least in our religio-cultural community): what is GAINED by women leaving the home?

  • OmarG says:

    @Mariam,

    1000 blessings for your new little one! Congratulations to your husband and son as well. While you need not explain your life to us in the peanut gallery, your choices certainly do make sense for you and I’m quite pleased you fee satisfied. I think this really highlights that there is no one-size-fits-all even in Islam. We need to move away from overly stretched mandates for entire groups of people and instead move to a more fine-grained understanding of the whys and the hows of the choices people make for themselves, trusting that they are doing what makes the most sense for them, and to equip our own children to do so as well.

  • OmarG says:

    @Enith >> I am a firm believer that you can do it all,

    I don’t know; when I was a single parent for a few years, it totally exhausted me. I never want to have to manage a business and two small kids ever again. It retarded business and prevented me from being truly there for my kids. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, even my dearest enemies. Granted, all people have different stamina levels and support structures, but my experience convinced me that when you rob Peter (kids) to pay Paul (career), Peter gets pissed, and so does Paul.

  • uma1 says:

    Hello everyone,

    Mariam (the author here).  Please pardon me for my delayed entry into this fray ??? I???ve been juggling my 39th week of pregnancy with work emergencies and a very sick three year old (talk about the travails of working motherhood!).

    Thank you all for your thoughtful and in some cases hilarious comments.  Ed, first of all, I think some of the points you raise regarding the current deteriorating state of marriage are very important, and should definitely be discussed in this forum.  The fact that these issues are not discussed in my article is because it is really about a different but integrally related topic.  I???m really not focusing on marriage per se here ??? I???m focusing on the entire community???s current and seemingly growing obsession with pushing girls to pursue higher education, but also maintaining its position that all women should really be staying at home with their children. 

    To also clarify, I don???t have any problems with women choosing to not pursue certain levels of education, or of even very educated women choosing to remain home with their children.  These decisions essentially come down to economics for most people, and if families can afford to do so, it may make sense for the wife to stay home full time rather than work at Starbucks, do a retail job, or toil away at a career she finds unfulfilling, boring, or overly stressful.  The situation becomes more complicated for women who (1) have educational debt (like most of us) and/or (2) have pursued degrees in subjects that they are passionate about. 

    To use a personal example, I have a law degree, and I really didn???t have the option of not working for at least several years.  I tried my hardest to pay off most of this debt before having children, and once I had my son I changed my life around as completely as possible to center it around him.  We left our apartment in the city and moved to the suburbs so the baby could be with my mom while I was at work.  I seriously cut back my work schedule, began working extensively from home at night after his bedtime, and changed my department and specialty to have better hours and no travel requirements.  I hired people to, among other things, clean our house and do other housework so I could focus all my free time on the baby.  I cut off all other extracurricular activities, arrive home promptly at 6 pm every day I work, and spend at least three days every week at home with him.

    What I could not change about my life, and what really motivated me to go through all these changes to preserve my job, was my passion for the law.  My job not only intellectually challenges me and excites me, it also provides me with the ability to do pro bono work that is deeply meaningful to me.  I have spent many hundreds of hours since law school working with women and children seeking asylum, with women seeking protection from abusive spouses, and on generally counseling immigrant women in domestic violence situations.  I focus this work almost entirely within the Muslim community, because there is a huge shortage of female Muslim American lawyers.  Whenever I???m able to speak to a client in her language and with an understanding of her cultural and/or religious background, both as a woman and a lawyer, I know I???m making a difference.  I also know that she may not agree with the choices I have made in leaving my home and child to work, and she may never encourage her daughter to do the same, but she is certainly grateful at that moment that I???m there to hold her hand and help her.  I???m certain that doctors, educators, journalists, nurses and many other Muslim American women have had similar experiences when using their unique talents and female perspectives for the benefits of themselves and their communities. 
     
    It is hard to say what impact my decisions will have on my children in the long term. So far I have an incredibly happy and healthy little boy, mashallah, who has thrived through all the quality time we spend with him.  I do get the sense, however, that some part of his happiness comes from the fact that his mother is happy and fulfilled (though often exhausted!).  Whether anyone approves or not, I know I would not thrive the same way if I walked away from my career.  I also know that if I???m miserable, I will not be a good mother.  Perhaps if I had never gone through college and law school, if I had never worked, I would never know what I was missing, and the decision would be easier. 

    While it is also noble to decry the evil marketplace and crass focus on money, the reality is that I???ve been able to save for his education and for our retirement, and to travel all over the world with him, because I work.  I want him to be able to choose any educational path without worrying about debt.  I don???t want to ever be a financial burden on him and his family as I age and sicken in this very expensive country.  In this day and age, it is difficult to do that with a single-earner supporting the family.

    I also want to clarify that I was raised by a stay-at-home mom, and she is my role model in all things, especially motherhood.  Her stories of being yanked out of school at a young age, and the tales she told me about my grandmothers being forbidden an education, deeply inspired me to excel.  She was always my biggest cheerleader, and the day I received my law license, there was no one prouder than her.  She has also been my biggest support in helping me raise my son.  I certainly don???t think that only career women can show their children the benefits of hard work and an education.  I just think that a mother with a career is in an excellent position to persuade her children to focus on their educational pursuits.  This, especially, when compared to women who have degrees that they???ve never used, and have to explain to their children why they should pursue an education, wrack up school loans, and then file those degrees away to focus entirely on another generation of children (girls, really) to do the same.

    I also want to note that although my article does not focus on marriage, the issues that it centers on ??? namely, the problems faced by working mothers ??? are also part of the contemporary mainstream debate that is extremely important to millions of working mothers.  It is particularly a hot topic in America, which is only one of four countries in the world that does not mandate any paid maternity leave, and which is generally behind the curve in supporting working mothers.  I hope altmuslimah and other forums will continue to focus on this topic and its many nuances.  I also hope some of you will write some of those articles (here???s looking at you Ed!). 

    Apologies in advance if I am unable to reply to any follow-up posts.  Our baby is due in the next few days so I may be otherwise engaged!

    Mariam

  • edabdalghafur says:

    None of you engage with contemporary mainstream debate on the issue of marriage.  I mentioned before Sandra Loh and Jessica Bennet; other writers of interest might also be Wendell Berry, Barbara DaFoe Whitehead, Susan Pinker. If altmuslimah seeks to have any real intellectual weight, you must do this, otherwise altmuslimah remains what its always been, a third tier mouthpiece for an uncomfortable, tenuous and often incoherent amalgamation of liberalism, feminism and religiosity.  Really its model is liberal Christianity, something that no one in the mainstream really takes very seriously.

    Asmauddin:  No one says a woman shouldn’t work per se.  Clearly many, many muslim women in america work.  For many women its not even a choice but thats not the issue being dealt with here.  And to portray that as being the issue is to misrepresent and oversimplify the debate.  The issue is whether the expectation that a woman sacrifice in any respect career ambitions is legitimate, or whether it is an affront to her dignity as a woman, and her alleged “right” to career advancement. 

    Furthermore you assume a very rosy picture of work.  Is all work “slavery to the marketplace”?  No, but the reality is that most people don’t like work, but feel compelled for different reasons to continue.

    You say: “how about those that are all about giving back to the world using your God-given talents?” 

    Does raising a family not require God-given talents?  And how come, no one asks the question about what is lost when a woman leaves the home full time?  No where can such an acknowledgement be found on this website.  Its taboo.

      So is paid work outside the home the only way to pursue God-given talents?  With your assumptions about domestic work you problematize the family and you make unintelligible the lives of vast majority of women in history who found fulfillment in family life. 

    ” constantly wonder and philosophize about higher issues”  Let’s be real how many jobs allow or expect from their employees “wonder and philosophy?”  Most jobs have no room for such thinking. 

    “So is it somehow against God???s plan for us to do what we are spiritually called to do?”

    Again, you are missing the point. How do you know God’s plan isn’t for you to devote most of your time, effort and energy to your family and then to your career secondarily? 

    this isn’t an argument for why women shouldn’t work, its an argument about how we order the goods in our life.  You, and the author, and much of mainstream america seem to share the notion that the primary good in our life to which we should devote much of our time and attention is our career, for men and for women.  I argue that this ordering of goods is disordered, esp for women (yes, sexism!), and that family should be our top priority such that sacrifices in career advancement should be endured for the goods internal to family.

  • asmauddin says:

    Relevant to this discussion:

    Gender Equality Universally Embraced, But Inequalities Acknowledged
    The Pew Global Attitudes Project: http://pewglobal.org/2010/07/01/gender-equality/

  • Revertive says:

    This is a strange article.  I am American, and was raised by a Christian family.  The perspective I learned growing up is that women HAVE to work AND do most of the household work because we are too big of a burden for our husbands to have to support us while we sit at home doing “nothing”.  It was for this reason that my mother started working at Walmart when I was 10 and my brother was 8.  It was also around this time that my parents’ marriage became troubled.  They divorced 8 years later.

    Supporting women who wish to be mothers AND have a full-time career is not necessarily the right solution.  Banishing women into their houses once they have a child is also not necessarily the right solution.  Can’t there be a balance?  Can the mother not work part time, or work from home?  Would she feel fulfilled if she volunteered to help the less fortunate some of the time?

    Sure, sometimes it makes sense for a mother to work outside her home.  I won’t deny that.  But sometimes it makes more sense for a mother to stay at home.  It’s all situation.  I plan to stay home with my (as of yet unborn) children because I had the painful contrast of a stay-at-home mom and a working mom.  I know exactly how much harder life became for me when she basically abandoned me and my brother for a job.  I know how harmful it is to equate the worth of a person with how much money they bring in.  I don’t want my daughters to feel they are worthless if they sit at home doing “nothing”.  I want them to be secure enough in themselves to make the right decision for their particular family situations.

    And, what do you mean “beta you are like any boy”????  Shouldn’t this be “beti”?  You are not like any boy.  You are a girl.  There are differences that separate the sexes that cannot be ignored.  We are not inferior to men but women =/= men.

  • edabdalghafur says:

    Revertive,  I totally agree with you.  But your position, because it implies a special relationship between a woman, the home and the family, will be seen as sexist, and too accepting of traditional gender roles.  People will think that by espousing such a position you are endorsing every oppression that’s occurred to women since the creation of man or worse, denying that any oppression has occurred.  On this site sexism, meaning any distinction made on the basis of biological sex, is blasphemy, and won’t be tolerated. The only solution, here, is to abolish sex differences entirely, with no historical consciousness of how such attempts have succeeded or failed in the wider society.

  • Revertive says:

    edabalghafur, thanks for the reply.  Unfortunately, I am all too aware of this opinion of my opinion as I have heard it time and time again.

    Is it not also sexist that there is a special relationship between a man, the workplace, and the family?  Men are practically pigeon-holed into earning money, sometimes by working 10+ hours a day, instead of spending time enjoying their families.  But they won’t see this, because they assume that anything a man does is automatically privileged and therefore coveted.

  • umma says:

    Most American women, regardless of religion, feel guilty about one thing or another. My thinking is, if you know all of the reasons why there is gender inequality—then why exactly do you feel so much guilt? If you know you are doing what needs to be done in order to survie—then why feel guilty? As a SAHM with higher education into my Masters, I feel guilty for not having a job with pay—for having to say NO when other working women ask, “So are you working yet or at home still”? But that guilt doesn’t last long when it becomes clear that I have no reason to feel guilty. JMHO.
    P.S. The article mentions the perfect women of Islam, yes, but (suprisingly) fails to mention Hazrat Fatima (a.s.) the daughter of the Prophet (s.a.w.) as an example of the perfect woman.

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