This past weekend, my wife and I participated in a conference on Islamic feminism - a theoretical and political interest of ours, reinvigorated during our year in Lucknow (see here for part of why). Midway through the first discussion, she leaned over and whispered: this (she meant incredibly stupid statements about the essence of man- and womanhood, about the "weaker sex" etc) is precisely what Sigmund Freud wrote, too (she truly is a psychotherapist in the making). Not much later, somebody complained that Muslim societies consider the family the most important social unit - and I had to think of conservative parties across Europe and the German principle of subsidiarity.

Our associations hint at a widespread problem in the discourse on women and Islam: what makes a deplorable patriarchic practice an Islamic one? The fact alone that it is justified with recourse to Quran, Sunna and Hadith? Or the mere fact that it occurs (more frequently, perhaps) in societies with many Muslim citizens? Would this not leave the definition of Islam to patriarchs, precisely something which we (and other Islamic feminists) should challenge? After all, patriarchs will take whatever source to justify themselves, if need be the local fast food menu card ("Chow mein causes rape")...

Sorry, I have to go on a rant today, I can't bear it anymore. Don't expect an argument - just pure outrage. And an unlikely follow-up to my last post.

First thing in the morning I read this article (recommended), then that one (outrageous). Next came memories of all the ridiculous insecure-aggressive young men I encounter on Lucknow's streets on a daily basis. Memories of the conversations I have with the few female friends and equally few sane male ones, which hammered home how Indian men are foremost sons - first of their mothers, then of their wifes - but never grownups. Back came Memories of my colleague's and friend's recent talk at Delhi University about the shocking moral policing she encounters in Madras hostels as part of her research. And then more general memories of over a year of living in a misogynist environment, an environment more often than not presented to me as the height of morality.