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Tahiry Sanchez
Noodle Expert Member

March 26, 2020

Multiculturalism's view with reference to Susan Okin.

In the article “Is Multiculturalism Bad for Women" by feminist writer Susan Okin, claims that politicians, supporters and proponents for multiculturalism in liberal and democratic countries have failed to show justice and fairness when it comes to gender problems, especially for women. Polygamy, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, retaliation for abuse, disproportionate access of men and women to health care and education, unequal ownership rights, voting , political participation, and unfair exposure to terrorism, are just some of such procedures and standards that are practice in some parts of the world. Susan Okin in part 1 of “Is Multiculturalism Bad for Women" starts by suggesting that some community privileges may, in effect, place women at risk. She points out, for instance, that the French Government has granted special permission to thousands of male refugees to bring multiple wives into the community, despite French rules against polygamy, and the strong resistance of the wives themselves to the customs. Okin claims that if we recognize that women should not be marginalized because of their gender, we should not support the rights that provide for particular behaviors on the basis that they are essential to minority cultures whose life could otherwise be endangered.

I can honestly say that I completely agree with what Susan Okin wanted to imply to others in this article, I believe that we, particularly those of us who find ourselves socially liberal and resistant to all forms of oppression, have been too quick to assume that multiculturalism has good things that can be quickly reconciled. There is a considerable degree of conflict between multiculturalist dedication to group rights of minority cultures. Women should not be oppressed by gender in the context of "feminism," but their human dignity should be recognized as having equal rights as human beings. Women should be able to live a life full of freedom and live their lives as they want. Without any judgment or punishment for their choices. Now, in the case of multiculturalism, liberal democracy and the way of life of minority cultures do not have any kind of protection of individual rights. The biggest example of this statement in the article was the French case, in which polygamous marriages were brought in with the demand of only a small group of people and not paid the least attention to the rest of the population if they had agreed to do so. In many cases around the world, this has been a huge conflict, right or wrong.

Women from different ethnic backgrounds and cultures are exposed to violence, sexism, polygamy, and human rights violations, they have thought that this is what tends to be right because they have grown up and are taught to think this way, and if they do not agree to this “multiculturalism", they disown their own culture. It is so hard to see in documents and interviews how unhappy these women look in the way they live. For example, I have been friends with many Muslim women in my high school years, and they have openly told me that their “rule" in their household is that their parents get to marry them and pick their spouse if they do not want to continue their education, although this rule can be seen as “having a choice", it is still related to force marriage. Then you also have the view point of how Muslim women dress in accordance with their religious beliefs, or engaged in other expressions of religion show that they are portrayed by extremes. On the one side, people think they are a threat to society, because their clothing depicts them as adherents of religious sects, but on the other hand, they are forced to cover themselves up and require legislation to emancipate them from the shackles of men. Does this seem like freedom? NO, it doesn't to me at all. But I can also say that I am not stating that being covered or following your beliefs is wrong, I do agree that in any culture aspect there is a limit to what one must follow unless it is something you are following willingly, with no pressure and no demands. Many Muslim women in this case see their Hijab as a form of expression in resistance and feminism. Models like Halima Aden, state that she would never take off her Hijab because she wants to show the world that it can become a sign of power and strength to many women, like herself, whom have been able to escape the abuse of multiculturalism.

We also have someone like Malala Yousefzai, who has fought so much for the education of women and nearly lost her life fighting for this cause. It amazes me how in today’s world you would expect more people from different cultures being open to new ideas and how maybe their way of living could be tweeted here and there, but it is not like that at all. People from other countries feel offended and avoid wanting to let anyone judge their beliefs or ways of life towards women. This has been going on for years, I remember seeing many films from the era of horse carriages and puffy gowns and telling myself, I would not want to live in that time period. Women were seen as just birth givers and for nothing more. I do not think any women in today’s world in the United states would agree to want to be seen as just that. Shockingly, many women from different countries have been so costume to view this as the only way of living that they are afraid to even speak up.

Women who have tried to speak up like Malala Yousefzai, have either been threatened or killed if they spoke up. In fact, many women have committed suicide because they see no way out. In these cases, men do not realize that putting women in certain situations creates a huge psychological trauma, and that these women lack self-confidence and self-love. It has also created a huge issue for women to be able to trust anyone, because in some cases people have not been "punished" for the abuse they have given to these women. Women are trying to have a presence in many nations, but they are not recognized because "state" offers power to men. For example, multiculturalists are the biggest champions of the government's massive increase in the abuse of women's rights. Feminism has articulated ideas and philosophies on multiculturalism from different perspectives and have suggested that language, history, religion and politics play an important role in influencing and controlling women. Interpreting multiculturalism in itself could be vague because cultural differences in certain areas of liberal societies were controlled by dominant males.

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