I want to talk about a verse that has appeared on this site without previous examination because it is so clear in its meaning, and extract from it a deeper understanding of the Quranic approach to sex and gender and these supposed strict “gender roles” that patriarchs insist are dictated in the Qur’an.
Who created you from a single Self
Created, of similar nature,
its mate and from them twain
scattered like seeds
countless men and women;–
through Whom ye demand
your mutual rights. (Qur’an 4:1)
This is the opening verse to the fourth chapter, titled specifically Women. The first time 4:1 appeared on this site, the word Self was replaced by the word Person. The Arabic word is Nafs, which can be translated as either. Intriguingly, Nafs is feminine. As mentioned before, the Quran does not give us any information as to whether Adam was created before Eve or vice versa. An overwhelming majority of the time, Adam only means humankind (literally ‘of the soil’) in the Qur’an, and could just as easily be referring to a female form, or to both.
The Self, Nafs, is a single reality that incorporates all contrary attributes. Men sometimes would translate Nafs as ‘soul’ in order to utilize an early Greek perspective that the male consists of the body soul and spirit (Self) and the female, a lesser form, only occupied the soul. Thus, these douchecanoes could conveniently apply sexism even to a verse as strikingly egalitarian as 4:1.
So the verse states that the sexes originated from a single Self, and then asserts that it is because of this intrinsic equality from which mutual rights are extracted. Anyone, scholar or otherwise, who insists that the Qur’an assigns gender roles, is completely overriding this verse and depending entirely on the verse that hold men responsible financially, which means nothing they think it means and in fact holds wealthy women just as accountable.
This act of incorrectly collapsing sex (biology) with gender (social role) and lifting interpreted “maleness” to a superior state to “femaleness” on a scale that holds men as the ideal is the core of inequality and essentially against the Qur’an.
The most aggravating misconception about equality is the faulty assertion that treating a man and a woman the same (as in, treat both like a man because that is the supposed standard) is to treat them equally. Usually critics of feminism, who insist that a feminist would not give up her seat for a pregnant woman because then she would not be treating the pregnant woman equally, champion this perspective. (Regardless of how often I insist that I would give up my seat for a pregnant woman as enthusiastically as I would give it up for a pregnant man.) Have you heard this before? You’ve met Strawfeminist. Strawfeminist exists in the imagination of dudes who think they know feminist theory better than you, an Actual Feminist who actively constructs it. Because she has been created by men to serve their own patriarchal purposes of discrediting feminism, Strawfeminist incidentally believes that men are the standard to that women should aspire, which in the figment of male imagination is how Strawfeminist argues that women should not receive maternity leave (instead of arguing that men should receive a period of time as well so that they can help out with the kid, which is much truer to an Actual Feminist argument) because women should be exactly like men.
Yes, men believe that even feminists revolve around them. In their imaginations, feminists want mothers to not take maternity leave (because that is manly and of course we want to be manly) instead of wanting men to take care of their damn kids (because that is womanly and so ew); they cannot fathom that there is a sphere of possibility in which men and male experience are not the standard.
This is why MRAs say ridiculous things, like “Every time a woman says she wants to be treated equally and I treat her like a man, she can’t handle it.”
Ugh, what a dumbass. (Hilariously, he’ll smugly think he’s a fucking genius.) In reality of course, not only is he confusing being treated equally with being treated like a man and thereby assigning male as the aspired standard and hugely misunderstanding feminist theory, but he probably wasn’t actually treating her like a man. The misogynist buffoon was undoubtedly applying an overly exaggerated, dishonest, and hostile version of masculine behavior for which his idea of a “real” man may or may not have punched him in the face.
And so male and female (sex) are collapsed into the masculine gender.
Individuality compromised in generalizations is the root of this inaccuracy that treating men and women the same is to treat them equally. The truth is that treating people the same is not to treat them equally. Individuals are different, with different needs, biology, preferences, abilities and disabilities, schemas, etc. Sex is nothing but another insignificant factor. To make things equal—just—we construct a society in which each individual can function to xir best potential and contribute fully to civilization. The source of sexual inequality is the incorrect view that biology, or sex, is in any way related to “function” and social identity, or gender, and that the individual is subordinate to the natural. The source of sexual inequality is the incorrect view that differences that are socially shaped are biologically dictated.
The word female was not originally related to the word male, but is a derivative of femina; the spelling was changed over time to parallel the spelling of male, a reflection no doubt of the process of patriarchal thought: the word female is incorrectly believed to mean not male. Setting the male as the standard to which women should aspire delineates a very incorrect, very old, very sexist type of understanding of the relationship between the sexes. This incorrect understanding views male and female as opposites, as Male and Not Male, instead of Male and Female (Femina).
The first model has been used to oppress women by placing us as the Other compared to Male and creating a binary contradiction in that biological differences must also mean differences in ability, mind, soul, and very other aspect. But sex is contrary, not contradictory. Women have needs, not “special needs” or “different needs.” Women are a sex in our own right, and must speak for ourselves and our legitimate needs, rather than men speaking for us just as they had in the past based on a false idea of absolute sameness or a spectrum in which male is superior and what works biologically for men must work for women. These are also not halves that form a whole, as that would be a dualistic mode of thinking which 4:1 obviously does not state. Rather, each part is a form of a single reality. The relationship is based on ontology, not sociology, and on equality and not hierarchy.
Despite popular belief, there is no evidence in the Qur’an that woman was created from man or even after. And in fact, verse 4:1 differs greatly with these perspectives.
Both models (Male and Not Male, Male and Female) are phallocentric. The former is phallocentric in theory and application. The latter is phallocentric in application when Male is viewed as entirely different in every aspect and superior to Female, and, as illustrated, neither model is endorsed by the Qur’an. The Qur’an does not hold that female is ‘not male’ nor does it insist that male and female are exclusive entities and male is superior. Scholars who derive an endorsement of inequality from the Qur’an are dishonest and projecting their own agenda–and the fact that even 4:1 has historically been misconstrued to advocate inequality is only proof of these malicious intentions.
10 thoughts on “Intentional Malice: The Exclusiveness of the Sexes, Collapsing of Sex and Gender, and the Superiority of the Male”
Fascinating post. Interesting you mention maternity leave, because it’s one of those areas where the US is almost dead last in the list of Western democracies. Here in Ontario, Canada, the government standard is 17 weeks of pregnancy leave (unpaid), plus up to 35 weeks (for those taking advantage of pregnancy leave) or 37 weeks (for all other parents), again unpaid. So a birthing mother could take 52 weeks’ leave from their job, while a non-birthing mother could take 37 (and of course, since Canada has nationwide same-sex marriage, this includes same-sex parents).
The parental leave is also available to parents who adopt a child under a certain age, though I’m not sure what that age is. Equal treatment for equal cases: should the time come when men are able to become pregnant, they’d be eligible for the 17 weeks as well.
should the time come when men are able to become pregnant, they’d be eligible for the 17 weeks as well.
Exactly. All people who can get pregnant are eligible for maternity leave!
Please don’t ever delete your blog. I want my children to grow up reading the archives of The Fatal Feminist.
In my opinion, treating people equally (whether from a god or from other humanbeings) is to treat them with justice. As soon as there is an absence of justice then the state of equality has shifted to inequality. And this matters little in regard to sex. Each gender can always find ways to treat the other gender unequally depending on who it is and what the subject is. Without justice there is no equality.
Very nice post, and you’re absolutely right! A lot of women think they are being treated “equal” when they do the same job men do, work the same hours, and then when they come home, they do the cleaning and cooking and taking care of the kids, while the man watches TV. I say we’re a long way from achieving our full rights, even in the West.
Lolz I would love to live a day in your world.. well in my world if I come back from work and decide to go for coffee to my dads sometimes the coffee is ready and sometimes I make the coffee and bring it to my dad and stepmom and we talk about small and big stuff, after that I get the potatoes ready and my stepmom starts to cook and am going outside to my dad to see what’s he’s up and smoke a sig while we mow the lawn (or what ever he’s busy with) then after dinner my dad and me clean up and do the dishes and then we smoke a sig while strolling around the yard with our dogs (depends on the weather and sometimes we eat and stay outside for the evening) after that we go inside for a card game or tv and someone of us will ask what to drink and gets it (can be any of us)
Anyways I never had 1 day in my life that a woman or man in our family did these things alone and if that would happen il be ashamed.. there’s no person in our house that cooks and cleans, and yes our stepmom cleans the house more then we do but if she asks me or my father we will do as she asks (even though I don’t even live there anymore) we even clean her car every time ^^ and here comes the best part.. ready ?
She asks us to help her with things she needs to do and we do it happily but we never ask her to help us with (mowing the lawn, washing the cars, painting the house, cutting down trees, cleaning up snow, the list goes on and on..) and if we did ask and am sure she would help cause that’s the way she is and how our family works but she wouldn’t be happy to do these kind of works to get splinters in her hands or paint in her hair or lifting trees trough the yard, we wont let her cause its our job to get it done that’s our role (please don’t say am some sort of racist or fascist I truly believe in freedom and equal rights but for some things u need a male build and on the other hand there are a lot things that woman can do better and I don’t mean just cooking and cleaning) and if woman and men can do equally the same lines of work why is there then a minority and majority ? don’t tell some companies discriminate woman or men in a certain career cause I’ve seen personally that its not true, and I pity the fool who would do that cause we have equal rights in Holland and the unions would jump right in cause they don’t care about gender ^^ its all about money and all clients pay the same
I am just saying that some woman don’t want equal rights.. they want something more and I don’t blame U cause men have misused and abused their (proclaimed) rights since they could walk straight and yes some men come straight from the middle ages.. sad but true (metallica song) \m/
Anyways maybe some think am full of it and that’s the beauty of it I can speak my mind (if I don’t break any rules excuse me then please) and so can u, I think that’s freedom and equal rights yes ?
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I enjoyed reading this post. Good job!
Please excuse me I posted like.. 3 or 4 comments already and never complimented your works I really do enjoy your writing and the discussions it brings, so Thanks a lot and I hope to see more of your writing and if u let me in the discussion cause.. I think I stepped on a few lovely toes already..
Greetings from fryslan ^^ take care
Im dying right now! I just found a Swedish Islamic page with a post, “hashtagged” as follows, #Islamhonoredthewoman, and the post speaks about how the women came from the Rib, and goes on and on about how its supposed to honor her! Everyone is having a comment party on the post and its just too much for me to handle, and, best of all, this post has 253 Likes!! And im sitting here like -_-! How could we have gotten so far removed from our holy book, how?
Anyways, thank you for telling it like it is, always a pleasure to be reminded of the truth :)
Very interesting! I agree. I would also like to request a second part to this post, discussing how gender and sexual binaries are inaccurate and also unsupported: gender and sexual fluidity are reality I believe, but we force ourselves to mold everything into a binary, and it ultimately is a mechanism of patriarchial control.