Why Femen or any other white feminist group shouldn’t speak out for Muslim women

You may or you may not have heard about the Muslim conference that was disrupted by two women from Femen this Saturday. As usual, they were naked with a slogan written on their body and very aggressive with their message. They stormed on stage, took off their shirts and started yelling slogans such as “I am my own prophet” and “I will not submit to anyone”.

As a Muslim feminist myself I don’t associate with Femen in any way. In fact when I hear Femen I think about three things: aggression, nudity and white feminism. And when I say “white feminism” I’m not referring to white people who identify as feminists. White feminism stands for the kind of feminism that doesn’t acknowledge that different women have to deal with different kinds of oppression or sexism. These differences can come from religion, race, class, ability, etc.

Organizations such as Femen don’t acknowledge this. All they stand for is the ability for women to be naked. But who says that it is something that all women want? Some women are empowered by modesty, and this doesn’t mean that women who are empowered by nudity are any less of a woman, but it is wrong when you see nudity as the only right way.

Muslim women for example. I am not going to speak out for every individual Muslim woman out there, but I know that there are many of them that feel empowered by wearing a headscarf or by wearing a long dress or skirt. Which is okay. Other women might feel empowered by wearing tight jeans and short skirts and that is okay too. But when your feminism is about “freeing” every woman that doesn’t feel the need to be naked, it’s not that okay anymore. Muslim women don’t need to be rescued, we’re not oppressed by our religion. In fact, the ones that are oppressing us are those white feminists who think we should “free our nipples” if we want to be “real women”.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to portray a perfect image of the Muslim community. I know that there is still a lot of misogyny living in our community. But it is not up to white feminists, who know nothing about our situation, which is different for every Muslim woman out there, to come out here and be our voice. Let Muslim women be their own voice. Let them speak out on how they feel and what liberates and empowers them the most. Because there is not just one image of what a Muslim woman is, let alone that there is only one aspect of what empowers Muslim women.

If you want to empower other women, give them a chance to have their own voice. A chance to speak up for themselves. Don’t just think you know everything about them and ignore them by going out there and yelling strange slogans in their name. Because in my opinion, that has nothing to do with feminism.

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I’m ending this article by looking back at the situation that happened Saturday and all the reactions that came afterwards. Those people on the Internet yelling that those two women should be raped or beaten up are wrong on all levels. Do I agree with the way Femen works? No. But that doesn’t mean I agree with the misogynist comments coming from some people. Me not agreeing with those women doesn’t take away their rights as a woman.

Written by Latifa Saber

Latifa Saber

Latifa Saber is a 21-year-old student with strong opinions on pretty much everything. Feminism, literature and fashion are her main fields of interest.