The Purpose of the Wali

Nahida adamantly—and hilariously—explains exactly why no Muslim woman needs a male official to give her away and certify that her marriage was consensual.

You don’t want to start thinking about which of our modern wedding rituals have their roots in the concept of woman as property. You really don’t.

Okay, fine. It’s all of them. Give or take.

When Ordinary Muslims Say Things in the Media (and it Sounds Outrageous)

Every now and then Nahida (The Fatal Feminist) totally nails it:

Most people, especially most religious people, are not aware that they are not living in a vacuum. They aren’t aware that their words and actions are politically charged, or of the wider implications and interpretational consequences. They think they are just being religious. They think they are just being religious and living their lives even when they are involving this in politics.

Replace “Muslim” with “Christian” and “Qur’an” or “shari’ah law” with “Bible”, and the post still works on nearly every level.

Reproductive Control

Women don’t take birth control to have sex. They take it to control their lives. Because that is to what our worth has been reduced.

This is the pivot paragraph of a very confusing piece by the aforementioned Nahida, connecting, if I understand her correctly, the negative effects of her choice to stop using contraception with a patriarchal attempt to control her body by reducing the availability of cheap contraception through attacks on the Affordable Care Act.

I don’t understand the connective tissue of her thoughts in this post, so I can’t follow her logic at all. What starts out as a vivid and engaging explanation of the costs and benefits of choosing abstinence over contraception devolves rapidly with the above quote into essentially an extended rant. I very much appreciate Nahida’s writing, but in this post I think she goes wide of the mark.

Take, for example, this quote from Sari Weintraub:

“The bottom line is that before the ACA insurers legally discriminated against women who purchased health insurance. Women’s premiums were higher because insurance companies claimed that women use the health care system more often and incur higher total health care costs. It’s called ‘gender rating,’ and it’s used to charge women more than men for the same policy. There are also particular health services specific to uterus-owners, such as Pap smears, pregnancy and prenatal care, and childbirth. For insurance companies, being female is a risk factor in determining coverage costs.”

I’m betraying my libertarian/capitalist bias here, but this statement seems even internally consistent, not to say disingenuous. Weintraub complains about charging higher fees to women than men “for the same policy”, but acknowledges in the very next sentence that women use more services than men. She uses the expresssion “legally discriminated”, but by her description, insurance companies were not discriminating at all; they offered women more services and thus charged them more.

Nahida offers this paragraph without comment, so I feel we can take it as accurately expressing her own sentiments, but apart from anger at the perceived regulation of her vagina, it’s hard to tell what those sentiments are.

I’m with her, though, in her response to this piece of rhetoric from Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.):

“I know in your mind you can think of times when America was attacked. One is December 7th, that’s Pearl Harbor day. The other is September 11th, and that’s the day of the terrorist attack… I want you to remember August the 1st, 2012, the attack on our religious freedom. That is a day that will live in infamy, along with those other dates.”

This is asinine, no doubt about it. But it seems like quite a leap from pointing out the idiocy of comparing mandatory contraception coverage with terrorism to assuming that anyone opposed to said coverage must be seeking an overthrow of women’s rights:

If you don’t have that control, someone else does, because you are a thing to be controlled. Make no mistake of it. You have always been. And when they think they can control your uterus, they will believe they are entitled to control your First Amendment rights. Because this is a mentality, and it lives on reducing women to the sex class.

Someone else, please: read it for yourself and help me out.