Sherene Razack Supported by Paper Title Muslim Womens Bodies in the New World

Sherene razack supported by paper title muslim womens

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Sherene Razack
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Supported by : Paper Title: Muslim Women's Bodies in the New World Order: Intersectionality or Interlocking Systems of Oppression? Abstract: Gender oppression, when understood as what men do to women requires an erasure of histories of colonialism, class exploitation, heterosexism and ableism. The power of this simplified explanation is nowhere more evident than in feminist narratives of violence against women. Since all groups of women encounter sexualized violence (rape, domestic violence, prostitution), it has been relatively easy to rely on an analytical framework of what men do to women, leaving unexamined what women do to other women. Struggling to transcend the limitations of a universalist framework, feminists turned to theories of intersectionality, seeking to complicate women’s experiences of oppression by examining how one experience of oppression combines with another one to structure women’s lives. Combining the effects of oppression this way, however, is often unsatisfactory. That women with disabilities experience a higher rate of sexual violence than other women doesn’t shed light on how and why this occurs. Significantly, complicating the effects of oppression often leaves unexamined how one system relies on another system to give it meaning. When we focus on the mutually constitutive aspects of systems of oppression, we come to an understanding of the specific ways in which women participate in oppressing other women. To develop the theme of interlocking oppression and to focus on the complicity of women in oppressing each other, I want to turn my attention to feminist explanations for the oppression of Muslim women. Muslim women’s bodies have gained considerable saliency in contemporary geopolitics and have attracted a great deal of legal as well as political attention. Muslim women’s bodies have been constituted as a marker of a community’s place in modernity. We know Muslim communities are barbaric and outside modernity because of the way in which Muslim women are treated. Conversely, Western women are positioned as more emancipated than their Muslim sisters and positioned to assist them into modernity. Such explanations have relied on an understanding of gender as an experience that can be isolated from histories of race, class/community or social group. The paper addresses what might be an alternative understanding of Muslim women’s oppression, and it specifically focuses on the problem of how to confront what men do to women in Muslim communities (both in the law and elsewhere) without reinstalling the notion of the West as a place of universal values and the non-West as a place of culture and danger for women. Three sites will be examined: European countries attention to forced marriages and to the wearing of the head scarf, and the acceptance of Sharia law in Canada.
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