The Victimization of Muslim American Women and the Challenges of Imperial Feminism in Comparative Context
The Victimization of Muslim American Women and the Challenges of Imperial Feminism in Comparative Context, Oxford University Press (2020 Forthcoming).
27 Pages Posted: 12 Jun 2019
Date Written: May 27, 2019
The Breadwinner, a critically acclaimed animated film with a world premiere at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival, dramatically portrays Muslim women’s lived experiences under Taliban rule immediately prior to the United States (US) invasion in Afghanistan in 2001. Nominated for best animated feature by the Academy Awards and Golden Globe Awards, the film focuses on the experiences of Parvana, the girl child protagonist, as she struggles with, adapts to and challenges the ultra-conservative group’s extreme interpretation of Islamic law. Indeed, The Breadwinner both reinforces and complicates a familiar Orientalist narrative and advances imperial feminism in so far as Muslim women are portrayed as victims, the Taliban as savages and US military forces as saviors. While the Taliban oppressed, tyrannized and tormented many Muslim women, did the US military invasion save Aghan women? Is the US a savior for Muslim women, more generally? This chapter explores the status of American Muslim women in comparative context to further interrogate the imperial feminist agenda. To contextualize the inquiry, the analysis begins by identifying several prominent anti-Muslim stereotypes, canards and tropes manifesting contemporary Orientalism. The following two sections examine human rights themes frequently highlighted with respect to Muslim women: the right to education and employment, respectively. A related discussion regarding imperial feminism follows separately.
Keywords: Orientalism, Imperial Feminism, human rights, women's rights, religious freedom, intersectionality, Civil Rights Act, CEDAW, UDHR, Islamophobia, politics, Muslim Americans, education, employment, discrimination
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