Gender, State & Society
Debates over equality, sexuality, and the changing roles of men and women often represent the flashpoint where religious and secular communities work out their complicated relationship to modernity. The modern state plays a preeminent role in framing and adjudicating such issues, but is also confronted by political pressures demanding that it should either reinforce traditional family models or facilitate the acceptance of new norms and models of family life. A focus on gender as a point of commonality and difference enables the exploration of crucial issues such as childbearing and maternity; religious and secular education; domestic and wartime violence against women; economic mobility; the nature, structure, and exercise of religious authority; reproductive health; and marriage and inheritance law.
M. CHRISTIAN GREEN
A recent search of the term “burqa” on CartoonStock.com turned up a plethora of images of women in black and blue veils. In one image a black-clad woman in a delivery room gives birth to a tiny, similarly garbed miniature, as a nurse proclaims, “It’s a girl!” In another, a woman in a black niqab, with only her eyes exposed, sits in front of a computer featuring the webpage “Hidden Facebook.” Read the full article »
In the wake of France’s total ban on the burqa or full-length veil, which took effect last month, on April 11th, it is an appropriate time to address the Islamic interpretation of the headscarf and its significance for Muslims. Scholars of religion inevitably get nervous when they are asked to speak about “the” interpretation of anything. So I propose to draw on my personal experience as a Muslim and as an observer of Western politics and society to establish some context that may lead us to be more aware of certain uncritical areas in our framing of the question at hand.
M. CHRISTIAN GREEN
Like many universities around America, Notre Dame recognized Sexual Assault Awareness Week at the end of last month (February 20-27) in a world in which sexual violence against women and girls—and sometimes men and boys—remains a persistent evil. As one of the world's oldest forms of violence, present throughout the ages, particularly in situations of conflict and war, sexual violence seems distinctly anti-modern from both religious and secular perspectives. How is it that sexual violence remains such a blot on human nature, human society and, particularly, the relationship between men and women?
Two days last month I got up at 4 a.m. to attend the Fourth International Feminist Conference in Spain. Why so early? Because I participated via my computer in Washington, six hours behind Madrid time, thanks to live-streaming on Webislam. One can only imagine in how many time zones others were also coming on board. Interacting in cyber and real space has been the hallmark of Islamic feminism since it first burst on the global scene some two decades ago.