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A Feminism Check with 'It's Not About The Burqa'

- Khushi Arora @lonevixen_ka

"We are not asking for permission any more. We are taking up space. We've listened to a lot of people talking about who Muslim women are without actually hearing Muslim women. So now, we are speaking. And now, it's your turn to listen." // Mariam Khan

It's Not About The Burqa' voices 17 Muslim women living in the West. They talk freely about the issues associated with feminism, faith, sexuality, race, mental health etc. narrating their real-life stories as well. As the words Islamophobia and Feminism clash together, we see how Muslim feminists are constantly caught between radical Islamists and race supremacists. Such that, they cannot voice their opinion without offending either of the two.

In 2016, Mariam Khan read a statement by David Cameron linking the radicalization of Muslim men to the traditional submissiveness of Muslim women. She thus realized it was high time Muslim women addressed the world without any filter. In her essay titled 'Feminism Needs to Die,' she dissects the loopholes of White Feminism. She explains how it doesn't accept her identity as a Muslim and a person of colour. Mariam Khan, thus questions what being a Muslim woman in the West is about today. And, she feels certain that unlike what the media portrays, it's not about the burqa.

The book often mentions double standards in beauty ideals associated with Muslim women. Nafisa Bakkar argues that Eurocentric beauty ideals have created a default Muslim woman. Such that, despite aiming for representation, a section of Muslim women ends up feeling ostracized. I found this argument quite strong because it shows how vast and diverse the body of Muslim women is. Giving more representation to them would help people move ahead of the hijab-binary and realize that there's no one way to be a Muslim woman.

It's Not About The Burqa is insightful, thought-provoking, aggressive, a bit sad and even funny at times. It's one of those books after reading which, you rise up as a different person. You feel well-informed and add another distinct lens to your vision. Even though we just heard the voices of Muslim women in the West who may have the resources to do so, as compared to their counterparts in the Middle-East, I think this is quite a headstart. So pick up this non-fiction book to do a check on your feminism and see if it's really intersectional.


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