Reposted from Jezebel: Muslim Women Shockingly Not Grateful for Topless European Ladies Trying To ‘Save’ Them by Callie Beusman

Recently I wrote two posts which I talked about feminism and how Western women going topless to support Muslim women seemed to go about it in a way that reconfirmed prejudice and many negative stereotypes. All the points I bought up satirically were highlighted in this article. I have bolded some phrases that really spoke out to me and recapitulate my points.

Here are my two articles

  1. Greatest moments in Blogging History Part 2 – MrMary goes topless to Support Women .. sorta well w/ some caveats
  2. The difference between and egalitarian and a Feminist from mrMary’s Point of View

Please enjoy this great article by Ms Callie Beusman


FEMEN, the “sextremist” feminist group known for staging topless protests, declared yesterday “International Topless Jihad Day” in solidarity with Amina Tyler, a 19 year old Tunisian activist who had received death threats after posting topless pictures of herself to Femen’s Tunisian Facebook page. She had written “Fuck your morals” and “My body belongs to me is not the source of anyone’s honor” in Arabic on her chest, causing religious officials to call for her to be punished by 80 to 100 lashes or even, horrifyingly, by being stoned to death. Following reports that Amina had been admitted to a mental hospital, FEMEN called upon its supporters to protest the “lethal hatred of Islamists – inhuman beasts for whom killing a woman is more natural than recognising her right to do as she pleases with her own body” at Tunisian embassies around the world. Protests occurred in Sweden, Italy, Ukraine, France, and Belgium.

While it is unquestionably necessary, brave, and noble to stand with Amina (who is reportedly not free to move or speak safely), the protests were distressingly and distractingly Islamophobic. A photo from one of shows a white woman with crescent moons covering her nipples, wearing a fake beard, a unibrow penciled in with eyeliner, and a bath towel on her head. Another photo, highlighted on FEMEN’s Facebook page is of a topless woman protesting at a mosque in San Francisco (because, when you’re fighting the good fight of “TITS AGAINST ISLAMISM,” standing topless in front of any mosque anywhere will do) with the following caption:

TODAY IS AMINA TOPLESS JIHAD DAY. I was at the Islamic Mosque in San Francisco. Some Arab guy tried to grab my sign and pushed me in a violent way. My friend stopped him. MY BODY IS MY TEMPLE.

Further down is a cartoon of a woman crawling out from under her burqa to light on fire the beard of a caricature of a Muslim man (or should I say “some Arab guy”?). In the comments, a woman posted a link to an Al Jazeera article about Muslim women counter-protesting the protest, as they rightfully feel that it was condescending and imperialistic in both tone and intent. FEMEN fans responded to her link in the following ways:

“Stupid muslim women. Made brainless by Quran.”

“Stupid slaves!”

You know that there’s something wrong with your protest when its ardent supporters find it appropriate to repeatedly call the women they are “saving” stupid and to affirm that they have no capacity for making decisions of their own.

The counter-protest, Muslimah Pride Day, calls for women to speak out for themselves on social media:

[P]lease post pictures of your beautiful selves, whether you wear hijaab, nikaab or not. This is an opportunity for Muslim women to get a say and show people that we have a voice too, that we come in many different shapes and sizes that we object to the way we are depicted in the west, we object to the way we are lumped in to one homogenous group without a voice of agency of our own.

FEMEN needs to recognize that Muslim women do in fact have agency, and the idea that Muslim women are helpless, passively indoctrinated by the alleged evils of Islam, and desperately need of Western feminist help is oppressive and orientalist. Patriarchy is not specific to Islam — although there are inarguably extreme and truly saddening examples of misogyny in the Muslim community, patriarchy is a global issue. Furthermore, feminism is not only a Western institution — to assume that Muslim women need someone to “speak for” them is insulting to all the grassroots political organizing and activism that Muslim feminists have done. It’s disturbing how a the rhetoric of “women’s liberation” has been co-opted to justify aggression, violence, and prejudice against Muslim communities. In what way is it appropriate to “rescue” women by indulging in and re-circulating essentializing, stereotyped, and offensive depictions of their culture?


  1. The biggest problem as I see it with Islam and “The West” has always been that most westerners don’t understand Muslims (Islam) and many Muslims are in the same boat but on the other side. Neither understanding the others ideals or beliefs. It’s been a re-occurring theme over the centuries and part of the root problems today. Sadly until both can agree to try to accept and tolerate the beliefs of the other any attempt to address issues like womens rights is only going to fuel the fires of conflict. That said, I’m all for women going around topless if they so chose and Jezebel and for that matter all the Gawker sites (Jezebel, Lifehacker, Gawker, etc…) Rock! Great Post!


  2. I seldom comment, but i did a few searching and wound up here Reposted from Jezebel: Muslim Women Shockingly Not Grateful for Topless European Ladies Trying To ‘Save’ Them by Callie Beusman | ASpoonfulofSuga.
    And I do have a couple of questions for you if you tend not
    to mind. Could it be simply me or does it look like some of these responses come across like
    they are coming from brain dead folks? 😛 And, if you are writing at additional sites, I would like to follow everything fresh
    you have to post. Would you make a list of every one of all your communal sites like your linkedin
    profile, Facebook page or twitter feed?


  3. It might be good to distinguish what Islamicist and Islamophobic mean to one besides using them as labels in binary logic agenda ads.
    For myself, coward that I am, I admit to holding fear around the intentions of alla those extreme abrahamic (literal)texural thumpers .
    (ie from whichever of those Judo-christi-moham cults.)
    yes I will chime in -braind dead-(not open to reason) folks are scarey. Of course we can’t hold those “poor baby” individuals personally responsible, for not being self determined can we? post -post modernists that we are, seeing as how borgish and all pervasive evil indoctriation can be for sally and abe schmoe.
    To see bare breasts in public, injecting substances in public, and carrying handguns in public is understandably frightening to the mainstream. Perhaps such (possibly revolutuionary) expression is a stance more honest to the shadow of a world of states claiming exceptionalism, legitimacy, and rightiousness which have policies of rampant drones, security walls, and child clitorectomies.
    I have often thought that the defense dept could hire all the out of work bubbahs upstate to give hand gun training to the women in countries of forced clitorectomies and honor killings. Big changes would occur, perhaps in a good way, but at least something different to witness in this time of 6th extinction.


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