Monday, August 18, 2014

Women’s Liberation: Beyond Feminism


Recently, I posted a status update on Facebook that read, “Men are supposed to pay for women not vice versa in terms of marriage living expenses. Women income is the nest egg, u can’t touch it. Never buy a big house dependent on two incomes. It’s haram.”
I was actually quite surprised by the vitriol that ensued against me, peppered with insults against Islam. Minus the last two words, my statement isn’t even remotely religious and could be practiced by anyone, regardless of religion. The above statement is just logical financial advice. Most women have no idea that they have a right to ask for maintenance as a condition for marriage, and could even write it into a legally binding contract. Such an agreement would be a tremendous blessing not only for the woman but for the financial stability of the family. When a couple’s lifestyle is dependent on two incomes, if one person loses their job or they get divorced, they lose the house. It simply makes sense to live simply. How does that make me “ridiculous”?
I was told by several people that Islamic law is outdated and Muslims need to come into the modern century and stop viewing women as baby making machines. This attitude did not shift even after I explained that Islam allows birth control. I could understand this reaction if I had stated that Americans should return to last century’s America, where a woman had to get her husband’s permission to open a bank account, and her property automatically became his property upon marriage. Obviously, a jobless housewife of any religion will have limited freedoms. But a woman with her own income and a separate bank account, whose husband pays all her bills, has unlimited options! Why are people so frightened by a woman with unlimited options?
I knew a Pakistani woman who was a fashion designer in New York, whose husband would not allow her to pay for any household expenses. She told me all her female co-workers were jealous of her because whenever they got paid, they had to hand over their paychecks to their husbands. The happy couple delayed parenthood for some years. When they decided to have children it was a good situation for them because the woman had plenty of self confidence about her ability to exist in the world as an independent person, plus they had good savings which enabled her to stay home with her children.
Contrast with a memory seared into my mind where a Christian woman relative of mine was getting chest pains and stomach aches because she dreaded her job so much, where she was treated abusively. She was sobbing and crying at length, saying she wanted to quit her job but her husband said nothing. I asked him, “Why don’t you sell this house and get an apartment so she doesn’t have to be trapped in such stress?” He brushed me off, saying, “Oh she just likes to complain!” How is this not female slavery?
Nowadays a woman who financially supports her husband is considered a “good wife,” while a woman whose husband supports her is treated with derision by society, which views the only choice of female importance as the abortion option. The “power couple” with the big house and no children might throw great parties, but when a wife is obligated to earn her keep in a relationship, full-time motherhood is not a choice.
Ironically, one woman who was bashing Islam mentioned that while she was happy to have a good career, and she was willing to use her money to support a family, she was having trouble finding any man even willing to get her pregnant, a problem which worried her greatly due to being over 40. Many men just don’t want the responsibility of a family anymore, when it’s so common to live with a woman like roommates.
For the classic liberal feminist, career gives a woman status, and without status, a woman isn’t worthy of respect. These men speak of “partnership” but there is no choice for the woman if she wants to work or not. The woman who chooses to stay home is spoken down to with mockery and derision, not by her husband, but by society. Feminism so interpreted is just a more modern way to treat women as chattel. Since children are now regarded as a burden and not valued by society, women are now only valued as financial assets of the man, as someone to pay half his bills.
At the end of the day, only women with money have legal rights. Women have to choose between having legal rights or having children nowadays – unless they follow the Islamic model. What is ironic is that those who angrily cling to the concept of the “power couple”  as if it was the “correct” way to live are the over-40 set.
Among young people, the Asian influence in the public school system is resulting in more family oriented thinking US high schools, even among non-Muslims. Not that it is the norm, just that is a norm. Young ladies now have a choice. This was unheard of in previous decades when having a boyfriend defined a girl’s social status. Young people now have a more clear idea of what they could gain if they stay away from boys and concentrate on their studies. This new generation of women, entering professional jobs with their virginity intact, has a lot more negotiating power than any other generation has had in history. It is wise to learn what a woman can ask for in a marriage contract, including the right to expect her husband to support her, regardless of her income. How she uses her money is her choice. Now that’s feminine progress!

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