To me, feminism versus cultural relativism as it relates to Islam is like abortion. Thinking the answer is easy and uncomplicated is a sure sign that you have not begun to grasp all the angles. To put it very, very simply, cultural relativism is problematic for all the reasons Bindel points out. Mainly, consistent cultural relativism disqualifies outsiders from criticizing human rights abuses. It leads to mental gymnastics wherein Cologne mayor Henriette Rekeryor telling women to avoid certain areas to avoid groping by majority Muslim immigrants is intolerable victim blaming but we can blame the satirists at Charlie Hebdo for their own murders at the hands of Muslim terrorists because colonialism.
But the opposite, absolutism, requires appeals to authority that border on mysticism, as I’ve pointed out before. Radical feminists are no more sex-positive than radical Islamicists, they just replace God with patriarchy as the reason why women can’t consent to sex unless X, Y, or Z.
I square that circle with the anarchist’s refrain: You do you. “Inside” is the proper place from which to criticize something. That’s why I write more about feminism than men’s rights activism. I’m not qualified to criticize Islam, I’m not a Muslim. As long as you’re operating on the good side of the coercion spectrum and the pressure to wear a veil is the same as the pressure I get to wear sexy clothes, which is to say cultural and not violent, do your thang. When it comes to law and violence, things get trickier, as they always do. I don’t think Islamic practices should be mandated by law, nor do I think they should be outlawed.
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