Lila Abu-Lughod: Do Muslim Women Need Saving?

A good reminder of the risks of stereotypes and the complexity of women’s lives, context and choices:

There is no doubt that Western notions of human rights can be credited for the hope for a better world for all women. But I suspect that the deep moral conviction people feel about the rightness of saving the women of that timeless homogeneous mythical place called Islamland is fed by something else that cannot be separated from our current geopolitical relations. Blinded to the diversity of Muslim women’s lives, we tend to see our own situation too comfortably. Representing Muslim women as abused makes us forget the violence and oppression in our own midst. Our stereotyping of Muslim women also distracts us from the thornier problem that our own policies and actions in the world help create the sometimes harsh conditions in which distant others live. Ultimately, saving Muslim women allows us to ignore the complex entanglements in which we are all implicated and creates a polarization that places feminism only on the side of the West.

Lila Abu-Lughod: Do Muslim Women Need Saving? | TIME.com.