. “Our stories are universal,” says Cadar. “So we want to create an international community where we can have real talks and be inspired by one another”. She stressed that as Africans, black women inherited the art of storytelling from their ancestors, so the digital sisterhood is tapping into the incredible power of storytelling to change lives.
The way women are treated across the Muslim world; the way sons see their fathers dominate their mothers, and the way scholars and imams regurgitate age-old ideas of women’s positions in life are all things that not only need unlearning but clear accessible actions.
I remember my father telling me that I must not see the world from the perspective of a man, but from my own perspective which will only develop once I venture out into the world.
We want to (rightfully) debate and critique Islamophobic establishments that bar our sisters from their rights to wear hijab. However, we will ignore the epidemic of the rising “spiritual leaders”, “scholars” and “holy men” in our communities who have been demonstrated to commit various forms of abuse against vulnerable women.
Asma Lamrabet offers a motivational reading of religious history where God repeatedly upholds the equality of women who are made of the same stuff as men. That’s a great place to start a conversation on how power is balanced between men and women within Islam.
Society tells women a million ways, how to avoid being harassed, how to dress modestly, how not to walk alone at night, how to be extra careful, how to be a nun practically and live in the forest or disappear. No one preaches hard to men to refrain or endeavour to look away as enjoined in the Qur’an. It’s really not about dressing. It’s about power dynamics and zero consequences.”
I acknowledge that once upon a time, our “aunties” were once Muslim girls, who unfortunately were subjected to the same experiences bedevilling young Muslim women of today. Due to the sexist structures put in place to uphold their oppression, they were unable to adequately navigate and dismantle their predicaments.
In the exercise of individual ‘choice’, ‘freedom’ and ‘agency’, this new image of the neoliberal female subject has become an autonomous consuming subject, for even while loving our bodies, we need to ask ourselves whether patriarchy and capitalism have a right to profit from it?
I think artists should create what they feel passionate about. Sometimes I don’t feel like creating artwork around activism – sometimes I just want to draw a pretty picture. People reach out to me about creating artwork around other topics – that don’t quite relate to the experiences I’ve gone through or seen.
We don’t need men explaining the concept of equality to us. Women are not a group of dumb, confused individuals who have no sense of what they’re talking about and no idea of what they want. When we demand gender equality, we are demanding that irrespective of differences, the intrinsic equality of all human beings be recognised.