In honor of Women's Day, Aftenposten published an article by Hanne Nabintu Herland regarding women's position in the West under the title "Western women are set back", deriding everything that the West offers women. Herland is a historian of religion, focusing on Islam.
I am not going to translate it all, but the bottom line of it was - women in today's Norway (and in the West) aren't as free as they imagine themselves to be. They are expected to work and run a household, they have no security, they are seen as sex objects. Today's loose moral standards mean they often raise their kids alone without a male provider. They are in essence in a worse position than women in 18th century England.
She says that the feminists' constant celebration sounds like Soviet propaganda and falls short of the mark. She wonders why there aren't many women who ask critical questions of this "celebration of freedom'.
Now, I am not sure where she takes her information from. I am certainly sure that things could be better for women. But, being a woman, I am extremely glad I don't live in England of the 1700s. A few months ago I had a discussion about feminism with somebody who was surprised to hear that I'm pro-feminism. I had to explain. I am not pro "New Feminism". I don't think women should be forced to be super-women. I am pro simple feminism. The feminism that gave women the right to learn, the right to work, the right to vote, the right to have their own bank account, the right to travel around without needing a male companion and the right to express their opinions (and to have a blog..), among other things.
The article continues on to say that Muslims are often 'shocked' by the way women are treated in the West. Herland interviewed Muslims in Kenya who thought the West's culture was discriminatory against women.
"A known Muslim leader [in Kenya] said like this: A woman in western society is like an animal, there is no respect for her body. Internet pornography has been unknown to us until a few years ago, now it is everywhere."
Muslims can deride the West and claim that women in the West are seen only as sex objects, but to claim that it ain't so in the Muslim world?! Muslims see women not only as sex objects, but as unintelligent creatures who are unfit to do anything but serve man. If they would see women for their own merit, as they claim, they wouldn't need to hide them from sight. A woman in a burka is a statement saying "any man who looks at me would think only of sex and therefore I have to protect myself from it". If Muslims would really see women as a fellow human being they would treat women with the respect they deserve, with the basic rights of every other human being. By holding back 50% of their population, Muslim societies are holding themselves back from further development.
"John A. Azumah, a specialist on African Islam, says that the criticism against the moral decadence in the West, the materialism, the cutural-killing secularization and the discriminatory attitude towards women are what motivates Muslims to move to radical Islam.
If Africans rape when they come to Norway and learn how little women's sexuality is worth in Western culture then Norwegians have only themselves to blame."
Azuma continues to talk about how police and the courts aren't protecting women. That might be true, but I think he's wrong to say that Islam treats women better.
Norwegians can blame themselves, but they shouldn't blame themselves for giving women rights.
It is a common Muslim claim that women in the West are viewed as sex objects and therefore the West has no moral upper hand when it comes to women. There is much in Western society that is corrupt and there is much that could be improved, but all of the troubles of Western women pale in contrast to those of Muslim women. Women in Iran, Saudi-Arabia and Afghanistan can only dream of being treated like a human being, like women in the West are treated. If women in the West aren't better off than women in 18th century England, I would assume that women in the Muslim world aren't better off than in 7th century Arabia. Between the two, I would choose England.
Source: Aftenposten (Norwegian)