Islamophobia, Feminism and the Politics of Critique
Theory, Culture & Society
Rochelle Terman | March 1, 2016
This article discusses recent critical works within the frame of what is considered a paramount concern in feminist scholarship today: How do we name and publicize acts of violence against women without providing ideological fuel for orientalism and Islamophobia? By privileging a critique of western imperialism in discussions of violence against women in Muslim contexts, I argue this work: 1) obscures a complete understanding of violence against women in Muslim contexts, 2) is unjustifiably dismissive and belittling to activists working in the Muslim world, and 3) is an expression of a Euro/American experience of Islamophobia post 9/11 that is projected in an ahistorical and politically counterproductive way onto local Muslim and Arab communities. The cumulative result is a teleology of an anti-imperialism that naturalizes the double bind between Islamophobia and gender injustice by presenting women’s rights activism not just as complicit in imperialism and Islamophobia but as inescapably imperialist and Islamophobic.