03 July 2009

Feminism, empowerment, and burkas

The Daily Show tackles the current debate in France over banning the burka:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Burka Ban
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Political HumorJason Jones in Iran
I'm not well-versed in the history of the feminist movement, but I've heard this debate play out a lot: does an empowered woman need to act a certain way, or is empowerment simply a woman's ability to choose her lifestyle, whatever it may be (corporate executive, stay-at-home mom, porn star, etc.)?

Earlier this year, Emily produced a radio piece for KFAI about feminism in American Muslim culture (read or listen to it!). She interviewed two professional women, one a community activist and the other an instructor in an arts outreach program in Minneapolis schools. While neither are forced to cover their heads with a hijab, they both choose to do so as a form of empowerment. The argument against this form of empowerment is that the oppression is systematic: a woman feels pressured into a certain lifestyle choice by ingrained societal degradation.

So what does empowerment really look like?

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