One of my students brought this video into class as part of her final. She began her talk by quoting a poem from Suheir Hammad and then did an astute power point about the perception of Muslim women and Muslim women’s perceptions of themselves. She closed by saying that she had been judged many times because of the way that she looks and the things she believes and that she did not understand how feminism which is meant to combat the negative judgment of women for how they look, what they wear, and what they believe does not traditionally have room for her. The question she ended with was: Am I not a woman too?
Since the class began with Sojourner Truth’s essay asking the same question, I thought her ending was both thought-provoking and an ideal way to wrap up her final presentation.
The class was less excited by the way she wove contemporary and ancient texts, west and east metaphors, and key concepts of freedom, self-naming, body image, and oppression. The video in particular, which includes a phrase about women getting raped because of what they wear lit up the room.
Ultimately, it was nice to see everyone using key tools from the class to interrogate their own politics, the meaning of feminism as a movement and for themselves. I only had to interject two guiding questions to keep them on track:
- Does the existence of women’s oppression in any country make it ok to stereotype the culture in which that oppression is taking place?
- Do western stereotypes about Muslim countries make it ok to stereotype women’s oppression in the West?
It was nice to see them working together in ways that we sometimes fail in the real world.
What do you all think of the video?