Feminism In The Middle East In this paper, I will be talking about the background information on what Feminism means, the history behind it, the conflict history, who was involved, issues, and hopefully the solutions for the future. The reader will also notice that this will help identify and clear many misconceptions. To demonstrate that at the end of the day, no matter what type of Feminism there is, everyone desires at least one thing in common and should work together to be able to achieve it. Along with Westerners needing to understand that even if they are very fortunate to live in the best countries in world, not everyone desires the same goals and values as an American Woman.When it comes to the topic of Feminism, we must define what Feminism is and what does is stand for. Feminism was first given credit to Hubertine Auclert who presented this concept in 1880 in her journal, “La Citoyenne” when she had decided to, “… Criticize male domination and began to make claims for women’s rights.” (Badran, pg17). Moreover, it is the advocacy of Women’s rights in the basis of the equality of the sexes. But we can never find a mutual definition of what is feminism and how each woman defines her struggle associating it with her standpoint on feminism. Western Feminism was created around the 19th century, where it had originated in the west due to the fact that it had been linked to the French revolution because women were upset with the equality that they were receiving. Which had lead them to push for equal rights. This is where it tends to get a bit complicated, because not many may know, but even though the term was originated in the France and the West, Feminism was never a Western Ideology. Egypt had been the first country to demonstrate feminist thinking. Now, as many may not know, there are three different types of feminist found in the United States. The three different types are:Liberal Feminism: This is where a form of feminism argues the equality for women are able to get them legally and through social reform. Radical Feminism: Is where they only want one specific gender and to completely eliminate the opposite sex. Socialist Feminism: This is where women aren’t able to have much freedom, especially with their financial needs because they depend on the male for majority of the things. The three forms of Feminism are not fully recognized by the general public they only understand that they are components of Western Feminism. As a young woman attending college in Chicago, where I am blessed to get the education to learn and inform others about Feminism. While I had done my research, I noticed that there were women of many diversified ethnicities that were fighting for women’s rights in some way. For example, Dolores Huerta, was part of Cesar Chavez’s fight for farm workers rights. Initially she was asked to help because she was one of the first women to negotiate contracts. Later, she found the opportunity to convince Cesar Chavez to persuade more women to join their forces. She stated, “Look, we’ve gotta get more women to be involved, more women on our executive board, more women on our ranch committees.” (Simon 2014). This was great because Huerta had made a huge impact on bringing awareness to having more women join and make a change. Especially during these times because it wasn’t fair that the rest of the Western society wasn’t helping on bringing awareness to this and making changes. As if it was excluding Mexicans from Feminism. If feminism is supposed to be for all women, why is it that Feminism is only meeting white women accommodations? The topic of Feminism in the Middle East is a very controversial subject to talk about in the Middle East. Islamic Feminism and Secular Feminism, tends to be difficult to understand by Western Feminists. Western Feminism doesn’t agree with what they stand for. When it comes to areas believing in their values, they are going to stick to their values, for example, Western Feminism. They have a hard time trying to understand other Feminist groups that exist because they believe that they are correct and everyone else isn’t. One may be thinking, does this mean that they don’t get along? No, they don’t get along, and many Muslim women have negative attitudes towards Western Feminism. There are different types of Feminism globally and are unique in their own way. If one does really think about it, why is there so much conflict if woman from all over the world want the same thing? Rights. Feminism in the Middle East tends to be separated in two parts, feminism that takes an approach of a secular attitude and feminism using religious texts to prove the right of women. But both are working under the improvement of women’s lives and rights. But before going into explaining what types of feminism in the Middle East, we must understand the influence of Western Feminism in the Middle East. This leads to more since it helps bringing in a real life example to help one understand why Muslim woman view Western Feminism in a negative way. Yes, Feminism has been a universal phenomenon, but most feminists don’t try to unify women from all different types of cultures. Instead, what Western Feminism tries to do is cover up everyone else’s thoughts and beliefs and impose their beliefs into other’s culture. Examples of modern feminism, is a little difficult to give a third explanation. The best two examples to mention is the suffrage movement and the civil rights movement. Now when it comes to comparing them, the suffrage movement, it has nowhere to be related to when it comes to feminism, because it didn’t even exist. The second one does pertain to it because it was famous around the 1960’s, which was very relatable. It has been stated that, “Feminism is a phenomenon that is identified with diverse ideas and are labeled as; “radical,” “liberal,” “Marxist-socialist,” “psychoanalytic,” “existentialist,” “postmodern,” “multicultural and global,” and finally “ecological.” (King 2003). Regardless at the end, no matter how broad the labels may be, they will always portray Western Feminism and leave out cultures that are found in the East.A book that I would like to bring up is by Nancy F. Cott, where she gives her own definitions in her book “The Grounding of Modern Feminism”:Feminism suggests that women perceive themselves not only as a biological sex but as a social grouping. Related to that understanding is some level of identification with “the group called women…” some awareness that one experience reflects and affects the whole. Feminism presupposes that women’s condition is socially constructed, that is, historically shaped by human social usage rather than simply predestined by God or Nature. With both of these definitions it states, “Feminism asks for sexual equality that includes sexual difference. It aims for individual freedoms by 14 mobilizing sex solidarity. It posits that women recognize their unity while it stands for diversity among women. It requires gender basis yet calls for the elimination of prescribed gender roles… ” (Cott 4-5). When it comes to feminists’ goal, they still believe in keeping the same rights for men and women in societies. “Even though Feminism started in the West, mostly in France. The first real one to have demonstrated to Feminist thinking about it was Egypt” (Badran). There is so much diversity in Feminism, but when it comes to the West, they believe that they own the concept of Feminism. Feminism in the Middle East has been over a century old. The major two feminist paradigms are “Secular Feminism” and “Islamic Feminism”. Secular Feminism can be traced back to the late nineteenth century while Islamic Feminism is traced back to the late twentieth century. Both of these appear in most of Muslim majority societies that are plural religions or with multiple ethnicities. It was interesting in the time that both of these feminism’s came up on because it was during the time that new things and identities were being refashioned out of religious, class, ethnic, and national affiliation. Both of the Feminisms put effort in order to help rebuild states and vibrant social, economic, and technological transformation. They both tend to work together and can’t really function without each other. Secular Feminism focuses on changing the laws and making their own by replacing them. Islamic Feminism focuses on using the Qur’an to demonstrate the rights that they have and it should be followed this specific way. Since it is the word of God, no one can disobey it. Secular feminism rose up in the nineteenth century in the Middle East, it states, “envision the construction of a new kind of collective identity bonded by people’s historical roots in shared territory and a common, if variegated, cultural experience. Within the imagined secular nation, religion was taken for granted and citizens’ plural religious identities accorded recognition and space” (Badran 2005). With the new context that is being given, the women from the urban and upper strata locations in the Middle East, they had made a “Feminist discourse”, where women were being held back because of the benefits of modernity, where they had the same freedom as male counterparts. When the rise of Secular Feminism came, it had who phenomenas with it:The spread of the new technology of the arrival of printing pressThe spread of the literacy among women in general This was a really good thing, because with both of these, women were able to have the right to writing and public reading. “Women transcended the bounds of religious community as they joined efforts in crafting a feminist discourse articulated in the new writings and fresh networks of women.” (Badran and Cooke 2004; Baron 1994; Booth 2002). Secular Feminism had arose during the time a “religious era” which was really huge at the time. It was stated that, “emerged in a context in which religion, state, and society were highly enmeshed… also connoted a certain separation or de-linkage between institutions of the state and religious institutions.” (Badran 2005). Secular had been given the new meaning in the 1970’s by the proponents of the political Islam. This is also where Islamists had tried to go and remove the notion of secular by changing it and redefining it everywhere and the meaning. “In this highly adversarial moment, secular feminists in the Middle East arrayed themselves against the gender reactionary Islamists.” (Badran 2005). The reason on why do this is because of the fact that Secular Feminism had been pitted, pitted on itself, and then ended up being regressive when it came to their definition of “religion”. An example of someone who is a Secular Feminist is Nawal El Saadawi. The reason why I bring her up is because she is an Egyptian Feminist activist and a novelist. She is normally a writer for an Arab audience, but she also tends to travel around to address the English-speaking audience by explaining her works and lectures. This way, one is able to understand more thirley on how this has can have a positive or negative impact. When she had her first book come out, it came into the Arab world in the early to mid 1970’s. Yet, when it came out to the Western market, it was around the 1980’s. She had first mentioned the two major international events which were the United Nations’ “international decade of Woman” and the Iranian Revolution and its aftermath. This had happened between 1975 until 1985 where woman had decided to show interest in getting involved to join. This had lead to the forum on how to speak and give impetus on global feminism. Islamic Feminism had begun around the twentieth century, it’s main way to be expressed is by using the Qur’an as a very important text that is the word of God. Islamic Feminism has appeared when the secular state and society had taken hold. The Islamic movement had begun in Egypt, by the leader named, Muhammad Abduh. The reason why he was the leader and had done such a good job was because he wanted to do a separate full on investigation of the religious text, in order to help people to face the challenges of how to be “Modern and Muslim”. To further explain this as well, during the twentieth century, Feminist women were helping a lot when it came to creating and demonstrating new institutions for state and civil rights because they were independent actors and leaders of their own social movements. This was done in Turkey, this state had preempted feminism that was the exemption. When other Feminist from other locations in the Middle East had heard about this, they had decided to go and spread this and stand strong with the social movements. By this, they were able to create democratize the new institutions of the state and civil society. As time started to pass by it had changed little by little. When the 1990’s had hit, some parts of the Middle East had “found” Islamic feminism. It states that, “The new feminism appeared at a moment of late post-colonialist and a time of deep disaffection over the inability of Middle Eastern nation-states to deliver democracy and foster broad economic prosperity.” (Badran 2005). All of this being able to work together, then it was able to move and spread much more quickly to have as much women join. When it came to the Middle East new groups and classes, especially in the Middle Class, they had recognized a lot of different pushes and turns of modernity. They seemed to be very attracted to Islamic critique that they had with the state and society, especially with tradition. As stated more thoroughly, “parts of the Middle East brought religion in a newly ideologized and politicized form to the rescue of the languishing nation/s. The new Islamist discourse constituted appropriation of religion in service of a restored nation that was both umma and watan… bonded by covenant and a people connected by attachment to a land or country. It was a script in a gender-conservative voice.” (Badran 2005). This had led to the liberation to women because it had started the rhetoric gender reform and innovation, where it had went to servicing their goals. The good thing at this time too, especially, was when women were able to work during this time and get the same education as men, it had also spread of a new form of technology. Where the ideas and everything were able to spread more quickly and ideas were being thrown around everywhere.