Abstract and Keywords
This essay is about how the academic field of North American Islam has turned to questions of gender and sexuality and how American Muslim women have dealt with the reality of gender constructions and localized dynamics in the American context. Widespread perceptions that Muslim women are oppressed by their religion make it difficult for them to tackle gender disparities in their own communities. If, for instance, a woman pushes to end practices in mosques that require her to pray separately from the men, as some women do, then anti-Muslim activists latch onto their complaints to discredit the Muslim community as a whole. At the same time, these women may be criticized by some within the Muslim community for imposing “western values” on Muslims or undermining the community with their feminist ideas. The influences of anti-Islam populism and intra-Muslim community pressures have shaped contemporary debates about women’s status in Islam and American women’s rights. Contested post-9/11 discourses, women’s leadership in public organizations, mosque participation, online activism, and law are examined.
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