Shelina Zahra Janmohamed

Stop Blaming Women, Start Blaming ‘Perverted’ Males

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Men are poor helpless creatures who can’t control their feelings or libidos, or so it seems they want society to think. I’m a believer in the general goodness of most men, but baffled by the attitude that they are helpless in the face of womanly charms and must therefore refer to themselves in derogatory and weak ways.

Take this comment – a mild one compared to many – I came across while reading about a new line of Islamic fashion: “If a girl attracts other males even unintentionally, it will end up to be a sin [sic] … So style in Islam is OK, but it should be limited to an extent that won’t create new feelings within the pervert males of today.”  Baffling that it’s not the “pervert males” responsible for their warped feelings.

This is on the same dimension as arguments against women being educated, or driving: that they will spread “corruption” by entering the public space. Or recent comments by the former head of the women’s studies department at Bangalore University telling women how to dress to avoid rape, but no edict telling men not to rape.

We get it: men think women are the source of corruption and that in order to stop the world coming to an end you must tell us what to think and how to act (and what to wear) because of course we have no brains, no sense of social responsibility, no spirituality and no reason. Oh wait – you say we do? Because that is just logic? And because it is our human fitrah to have all of those? And because the Quran says that we are all equal in spirit? Oh right.

Women are constantly preached to about social responsibilities even though we are not the ones responsible for most domestic abuse, violence, crime, rape or “corruption”. It’s time for our menfolk to preach to themselves about social responsibility.

It takes two to tango, so even if your outrageous idea that women are responsible for “corruption” is true, why don’t you stay away from them? Too weak? Oh dear, how can you run a society if you are too weak to resist a woman?

So now you have a choice in the arguments you employ: are you too weak in the face of women’s “corruptive” influence, which therefore means you are too weak to “lead” them? Or are you strong enough to lead, which means that it should be water off a duck’s back if women participate in society. Which is it to be?

I want to emphasise that I believe both men and women have responsibilities to act and dress modestly. To achieve social harmony, creativity and spiritual ease, both must participate fully but be equally modest and respectful.

So brothers, fathers, male colleagues – extend a little respect to the womenfolk around you. They are not toys, slaves, maids, objects or chattel to be bought, sold or bartered. Women are people. Yes, people.

And if you are a man from a society that isn’t majority Muslim in culture (note my use of the word “culture” and not the phrase “Islamic in religion”), please don’t look smug. There is plenty of oppression, abuse, violence and discrimination against women in all societies that no man – and no society – anywhere can be holier than thou.

So for men and societies everywhere, here are your mantras for 2012: be nice to women, be respectful of women’s intelligence and change yourselves instead of blaming women for the “pervert males”.

This article first appeared in UAE newspaper, The National.


9 Responses to Stop Blaming Women, Start Blaming ‘Perverted’ Males

  1. Abu Muhammed 18/03/2012 at 3:01 PM

    cy Emmerson 10/01/2012 at 12:51 AM

    Abu Muhammed – I think your comment proves that you haven’t actually read the article. For one, the author makes it clear that she is, in fact, Muslim, not an “ugly American or westerner”.

    I am a Muslim and a westerner. One doesn’t negate the possibility of another no more than being black excludes you from being a redneck or a racist.

  2. gsw 10/01/2012 at 11:44 AM

    Back in the last century, when western women were also fighting a harder battle for their own identity, while rape in marriage was still a ‘marital right’ and women owned neither property or even their own bodies, I heard that men were superior by virtue of their strength and brain size. When we pointed out that Gorillas were stronger and elephants had larger brains, so was man inferior to them, they muttered rude words about ‘unnatural women’.

    @Abu: “Muslims don’t make a sin out of the sex act and then call a man a pervert if gets a boner when he sees a half naked woman walking down the street;” Neither does the west, non-muslim world. However, your assumption that an erection must be acted upon is fallacious. Just as a man can be a paedophile and never, ever, rape a child, it is possible for a man to be aroused and not rape a women, or accost her, or insult her or otherwise act out his childish and uncontrolled impulses. This also applies to those religious ‘marriages’ with children so often reported in the islamic word.
    We in the west expect adults to be able to control themselves and their urges, this is the definition of an adult: accepting responsibility for your actions.
    As to “out of wedlock births”, this is not evil, even if you choose to call it a sin. And I have no doubt that as a man you ‘run around half naked’ all the time.

    You talk of “Men are supposed to” and “Women have” as though all people were the same and you (or maybe just your god?) have a right to tell people what to feel and what to think. Some men are good child carers, some women are not. The world is full of women who would serve humankind better as nuclear physicists than mothers. I think you believe that and are just trying to provoke discussion.

    This planet does not need more people – 7,000,000,000+ is enough. It is time to free women to take their rightful place in the running of the world, we can’t make a worse mess of it than the men already have.

  3. Lucy Emmerson 10/01/2012 at 12:51 AM

    Abu Muhammed – I think your comment proves that you haven’t actually read the article. For one, the author makes it clear that she is, in fact, Muslim, not an “ugly American or westerner”.

    She is not arguing that it is okay for women to walk around half naked (a comment I do not agree with – in my opinion immodesty of dress is NEVER an excuse for sexual violence), she is simply saying that the onus is on BOTH SEXES to dress modestly, not to discriminate and require it only of women.

    You analysis of the “results” is also questionable. It is impossible to get reliable statistics on rape in most Muslim countries, due to the culture of shame regarding reporting and prosecuting such crimes. Also due to the fact that marital rape is not considered a crime in many cases. RE: Saudi Arabia, their low official statistics (which are in themselves highly suspect) mask a serious problem with women being kidnapped for sexual purposes. In addition many migrant workers complain of sexual harassment and abuse.

    A final point – mentioning children born out of wedlock in the same sentence as rape is abhorrent.

    I am not religious myself but have no problem with Islam. What I do hate is defending sexual violence (or any kind of violence against women) on the grounds of culture or religion. Violence against vulnerable groups, in this case women, is cowardly and the perpetrators cannot be allowed to hide behind the defence that the provocative actions of women made them do it.

    Shelina – Well said.

  4. Uzoozy 09/01/2012 at 8:50 PM

    The battle between sexes has been going on since Adam and EVE.
    All humans are born equal, Islam explains that .
    However they have different roles in life, men cannot bear children and women can.
    Women have much softer heart so they can look after children.
    Men are supposed to look after the family,morally and monetary requirements women stays home and look after the family.
    In many cases this can be interchanged, you change the equation things will go wrong.
    So lets live a full life without the old problems being unearthed every once in a while.
    American women could not vote for a longtime in the Good old USA.
    Things are looking up for all concerned.
    Have a happy life.

  5. Angela 09/01/2012 at 7:59 PM

    Really, brother, you must actually read the article and author’s bio before commenting. It’s not rocket science. It’s all about assuming responsibility for one’s actions and not laying 100% of the burden on women. Somehow you twisted the author’s argument into something that only, well, only a literal-minded Muslim man would say.

  6. Abu Muhammed 09/01/2012 at 5:40 PM

    I think the article illustrates the mind set of the ugly American (or westerner or anyone who places the western cultural view as the most correct). You label any point of view contrary to your own as rubbish; judging it in terms of your own notion of culture on a strawberry float of propaganda.
    What really cooks your noodle is that many Muslim women seem resistant to your ethnocentric postulates and far from insightful theories on why Islam says this or that. Muslims don’t make a sin out of the sex act and then call a man a pervert if gets a boner when he sees a half naked woman walking down the street; then you attribute the rules of a society that does the opposite as somehow twisted an oppressive rather than examine the results. Sexual crimes (such as rape); STD and out of wedlock births compared to the US and other western countries are virtual non-existent in places that Islamic law is practice (like, for instance, Saudi Arabia). Alhamdullah, most people in the Middle East have more sense than you give them critic for. Hate Islam all you want. You are only helping to spread it.

  7. markjuliansmith 09/01/2012 at 9:57 AM

    “And because the Quran says that we are all equal in spirit? Oh right.”

    Yes Muslim Men are determined by the Quran to be able to ’tilth’ women where and when they want – the same does not apply to women. Even on the back of a camel according to one Malaysian Muslim errr Male.

    This one sentence even ignoring all the other derogatory statements regards womens place in a Muslim society determine the phrase ‘feminist Mulsim’ an obscenity.

    Then there is the authorized ‘soft’ beating to force obedience such equality defies rationality – so the violence is necessary – for even a women sometimes may determine such Man-God rules rather one sided – given men wrote the foundation text – what do you expect.

    • Abu Muhammed 09/01/2012 at 5:11 PM

      You should probably learn what Muslims really believe instead of speaking or writing from absolute ignorance.

  8. Uzoozy 09/01/2012 at 6:03 AM

    I believe its hightime to stop blaming the women for all the problems.
    Like the article says it takes two to tango.
    If all men behaved themselves no problems would arise and this place will be an better world to live. Marry have kids enjoy your family and do NOT fool around.
    God Bless

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