The “Exemplary Feminist” Complex

Please don’t use Muslim women protesting authoritarian laws as examples of “feminism done right.”

Women in Iran are not little pawns for bitter white ladies to use in order to gripe about third wave feminism in the US because they think sexual misconduct allegations have gone too far. (We’re also on like, the 5th wave by now, so who knows what you’re doing if you can’t even keep up with the tides.)

It’s so Islamophobic and racist to say things like this. It’s onpar with white men who tell white women to “go save” brown women in “other countries” instead because brown women “have it so much worse.” How is it not obvious that that’s exactly what you’re doing when you uphold Muslim feminists as exemplary? These commentators love it when Muslim women throw off our hijabs but can’t understand when we want to leave them on. And to use the movement against women who are victims of sexual assault! Feminists in Iran would not stand for this. Yet, here they are, being made examples of. How obtuse does a person have to be to not recognize this as a type of tokenism?

I also don’t doubt in my mind that somewhere in Iran there are patriarchal women who say, “Look at these ridiculous so-called Muslim women who don’t want to wear hijab! Look at other countries fighting sexual assault! That’s REAL feminism” –which makes these nonsensical remarks from white women in the US so much more laughable.

In fact, I encountered a man describing a Saudi woman arrested for speaking out against Israel as a true hero, “unlike those women without hijabs in Iran.”

For the love of God, stop comparing us, you sound ridiculous. What it means of course is “I like your feminism as long as you don’t bring it here.”


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