In the West, many people view Islam as being inherently oppressive towards women and LGBTQIA+ people. Certainly some Muslim people use their religion to validate their prejudices. But as many Muslim feminists have been saying, while Islam has some such oppressive teachings, it more asks for compassion, acceptance, and love from us. Let’s question this monolithic view of Islam that hurts Muslim women and LGBTQIA+ folks and alienates Muslim feminists.
Growing up a brown Muslim girl in the United States is almost paradoxical: You are at the same time desexualized and hypersexualized. I think that all brown girls – especially Muslim girls – go through this. You don’t look exactly right. You don’t fit in; you’re squeezing through the cracks, the same way your ass is squeezing out of the back of the two-piece swimsuit your mom wouldn’t let you buy.
In the wake of the tragedies in Boston, we must challenge ourselves to reflect on our reactions to loss of life, violence, and tragedy. Why don’t Americans express the same outrage when similar — and far greater — tragedies occur abroad, or even in our own urban neighborhoods? Perhaps the barometer to our reactions is grounded in racism and xenophobia.