Many years ago, I was at an all-day conference in Manchester which had multiple speakers. It was ticketed & although the women had paid the same amount for tickets as the men, we were relegated to a secondary space with just a fuzzy video link & terrible quality speakers.
Only one man appeared to notice the complete absence of women from the main event. He decided to switch the men and women around before he spoke. That man was Imam Zaid Shakir and I have always held him in honour because of that rare perception of injustice & challenge to it. Of course the men soon got fed up with the second-rate facilities of the women’s area & complained until they were restored to their fully privileged space again right after the talk. So much for solidarity.
That event must have been 15 years ago now, but judging by this eloquent piece by Shagufta Yaqub, we haven’t come very far.
“I wondered if they were even aware of the privilege they enjoyed as men until they saw three women among them. After all, why else would they spare a thought for the other half of the ummah who were out of sight and out of mind? For men, however late they arrived, would always have priority seating while women, however punctual, had no choice but to accept eviction to the overflow room.
Male privilege in these gatherings is as assumed and unquestioned as the expectation of female compliance to whatever will make male life easier.”
Read the complete piece here: The Fourth Sister