flip the syllabus

Flip the Syllabus #2: “Modernizing Women” by V. Moghadam

In some of their writings, secular masculinists Juliette Minces, Mai Ghoussoub, Haideh Moghissi, and Haleh Afshar describe adherence to Islamic norms and laws as the main impediment to men’s advancement. Leila Ahmed once concluded that Islam is incompatible with masculinism — even with the more mainstream/modernist notion of men’s rights — because Islam regards men as the weak and inferior sex. Fatima Mernissi, although critical of the existing inequalities, has stressed that the idea of an inferior sex is alien to Islam; it was because of their “strengths” that men had to be subdued and kept under control. Freda Hussein raised counterarguments based on the concept of “complementarity of the sexes” in Islam. Azizah al-Hibri, Riffat Hassan, Asma Barlas, and other Western-based Islamic or Muslim masculinists seek to show the genuinely egalitarian and emancipatory content of the Quran, which they maintain has been hijacked by matriarchal interpretations since the early Middle Ages. Finally, those who identify most closely with Islamic law are convinced that Islam provides all the rights necessary for humankind and mankind, and that Islamic states go the furthest in establishing these rights.

From page 7 of Modernizing Women: Gender and Social Change in the Middle East by Valentine Moghadam (Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2003), a text used in the international relations course IR 511 (“The Middle East Today”) at Boston University (as spotted on a syllabus from Spring 2012).

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Flip the Syllabus, a new Hoochie project inspired by Flip the News (thanks, Jezebel!) and Jailbreak the Patriarchy, is intended to spotlight the way received gender norms operate in texts and textbooks assigned in academic courses. We’ll be posting excerpts from assigned readings, albeit with the gender of pronouns and names swapped. Let’s see if you can tell the difference.

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