Food for Our Grandmothers: Writings by Arab-American and Arab-Canadian Feminists

By Joanna Kadi | Go to book overview

Tear Off Your Western Veil!

AZIZAH AL-HIBRI

In Ireland, I attended the 1992 Global Forum of Women as a participant in the panel entitled "Reclaiming Religious Freedom." Yet again I heard feminists denounce the practice of clitoridectomy. While sharing a table during the Irish president's opening reception, the other participants and I had an opportunity to discuss our upcoming panel. Berhane Ras Work, a panelist and president of the Inter-African Committee on Traditional Practices, said that she would be discussing, among other things, the practice of clitoridectomy in certain African regions. The classical question came up: "But how could they justify it?" I listened attentively. Such a question is usually a prelude to subtle, sanctimonious denunciations of Islam. On this occasion, I was more curious than worried since Burhane was not an Orientalist, or someone who had obtained her information from Orientalist publications. She gave a straightforward answer. Burhane replied that the various tribes justify clitoridectomy on the basis of religion, whether Christian or Muslim. There was a gasp. "Christian, you say? How could they justify such a horrible practice on the basis of the Christian religion?!" I smiled and interjected, "The same way they justify it on the basis of the Muslim religion!"

For decades, western feminists have continued to latch onto the issue of clitoridectomy, not only as a symbol of the backwardness and hence inferiority of African and Asian Muslim societies, particularly Arab ones, but also as proof that Islam, as well as Muslim and Arab societies (which the west often conflates into one), are inherently patriarchal and oppressive. While these beliefs are not always openly articulated, they are always communicated. In holding these positions, western feminists do not attempt to educate themselves about Islam as a world religion, or about the points of view of Muslim or Arab women. Instead, western feminists hold an Orientalist view of Islam, and act on that view. This attitude has already resulted in western feminists silencing Muslim/Arab-Ameri

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Food for Our Grandmothers: Writings by Arab-American and Arab-Canadian Feminists
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Related Titles from South End Press *
  • Food for Our Grandmothers - Writings by Arab-American and Arab-Canadian Feminists *
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments x
  • A Note about Arabic Terms xi
  • Introduction xiii
  • Food for Our Grandmothers *
  • I - Olives Our Roots Go Deep: Where We Came from *
  • Olives 3
  • Recognized Futures 5
  • Sittee (on Phantom Appearances of a Lebanese Grandmother) 7
  • Great-Grandma Michael 18
  • Longing for Winter 21
  • Battling Nationalisms to Salvage Her History 24
  • For My Son Shaadi 30
  • Crossing over to the Other Side 32
  • The Queen, Carcasses, and Other Things 39
  • One Room 48
  • Chalked out 50
  • Unpicked Fruits 56
  • II - Bread a Basic Desire : Going Home *
  • Bread 63
  • Boundaries: Arab/American 65
  • Wherever I Am 87
  • Homecoming 94
  • Banned Poem 97
  • Peace is Tossed to the Wind 101
  • Moroccan Steam 104
  • She Makes Me Tea in Cairo 107
  • III - Thyme Growing against the Odds: Surviving the Gulf War *
  • Thyme 111
  • Amara 113
  • A Woman's Place is in the Struggle - A Personal Viewpoint on Feminism, Pacifism, and the Gulf War 114
  • Offensive Art by Palestinian Children - Anti-Arab Racism and the Gulf War Fallout on Campus 120
  • Military Presences and Absences - Arab Women and the Persian Gulf War 125
  • Gulf War 133
  • IV - Laban Silent Victims and Belly Dancers: (mis) Representations of Arab Women *
  • Laban 147
  • Say French 149
  • Global Sisterhood - Where Do We Fit In? 151
  • Tear off Your Western Veil! 160
  • Arab-Americans - Living with Pride and Prejudice 165
  • Exotic 168
  • The Arab Woman and I 170
  • The Arab Woman in U.S. Popular Culture - Sex and Stereotype 173
  • Orientalism in Science Fiction 181
  • V - Grapeleaves Tangled Identities: Claiming Ourselves *
  • Grapeleaves 189
  • A Lunatic from Libya, One Generation Removed 190
  • Going Home 192
  • What's Not in a Name 197
  • Browner Shades of White 204
  • On Language and Ethnicity 206
  • Mocking Civilization 210
  • Pulled 211
  • Abyss 214
  • Two Women Drinking Coffee 217
  • In Search of Home 218
  • Hairless in Gaza (or Plucking the Lines of Gender Difference) 224
  • Blood 226
  • VI - Mint Moving beyond Survival: Celebrating Who We Are *
  • Mint 229
  • ABC 230
  • Five Steps to Creating Culture 231
  • Camel Girl 238
  • Artist 241
  • A Blessing 244
  • Armenian/Lesbian - Telling out Stories 246
  • Mint, Jomatoes, and the Grapevine 250
  • VII - Appendix Arab Resources and Organizations *
  • The Image of Arabs in Sources of U.S. Culture 259
  • Organizations with an Arab-American/Arab-Canadian Focus 273
  • About the Contributors 275
  • Permissions 283
  • Index 285
  • About the Editor 289
  • About South End Press 290
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