I’m a Muslim woman and a feminist. I’m a mom to a little boy, and I’m a conservative who hugs trees and attends shamanic rituals. I’m also a religious reformer who found her voice piece by piece over the years after experiencing and witnessing religious and cultural practices aimed at the psychological, emotional, and sometimes even physical annihilation of women.
I know rage intimately. I felt rage when cultural patriarchy punished me even as a young child for daring to question patriarchs with the kindness and the innocence of a child. It was never tolerated. I remember each sting, each time I was punished for speaking up. That punishment — verbal, emotional, and sometimes physical — was felt again as I grew older and stepped into deeper conflicts that challenged family, culture, and finally religion.
I understand what it feels like to carry rage, which surfaced again after an emotionally abusive marriage, life as a single mom to a special needs child, and increased pushback as my work took me from activism to public figure to leader. I experience rage every time I feel like I’m not being heard — not because of a single moment, but because of the totality of my life experience.
I know rage. I understand the rage of women today. The last two years has been a sacred cleaning house, a practice of allowing what is buried to rise to the surface. Although it is far from pleasant, it is necessary. This is why I supported a Donald Trump presidency, because of the complex conversations we were finally able to unearth through his provocative candidacy alone. Again, they weren’t always pleasant, but they are necessary if we hope to move forward as a society. We need to understand how people are thinking and feeling; we need to remove the masks.
One of these conversations includes the deep abuse toward women in all walks of life. The Me Too movement has many of us revisiting our histories, allowing us to color in our experiences with more reflection and understanding. With that comes rage, but rage is a process; it is not a solution.
The Brett Kavanaugh hearings last week brought further to surface the lava of elemental rage within so many women. Yet the hearing wasn’t about Kavanaugh; it was another push point in the narrative that “men are evil, and women are good.” The hearings were another trigger point for the tide crashing against the shore of a larger orchestrated movement that is not necessarily in the best interest of women: the Women’s March and the Me Too movement.
I don’t see movements lead with feminine strength, grace, and compassion. It is not a quiet push into a new paradigm. Instead I see hysteria and chaotic emotion. We smashed the patriarchy and didn’t replace it with anything. What we have now is a drunken free for all.
Meanwhile, women want commitment and respect in a relationship with a man, but it’s traditional structures that have offered those. The same movement that embraces the Women’s March and jumps on the Me Too wagon as another wheel to crush men with is brimming with women who complain there aren’t any decent men left. How many decent men will want come forward in a climate of fear of sexual harassment, social media lynchings, character assassinations, and more?
Both of these movements, Me Too and the Women’s March, have harnessed women’s rage and weaponized it for a political agenda and against the best interest of women and families. Women have turned on each other, just as much as they’ve started turning on men. Last week, the hashtag #BelieveWomen circulated on social media, implying that any woman with any claim of sexual abuse should automatically be believed. I don’t agree with that.
We can share, support, and hear each other as women, but we cannot demand allegiance and obedience from other women to adhere to a very niche code of conduct. It is subjective and at the whim of the abused, post-abuse.
We were hunted as witches and burned at the stake. Many of us still suffer under the shadow of cultural abuse, both abroad and here within the prisons of our home. In our rage, we’re going to do the same thing to men. I am deeply alarmed at how this movement will shape society in another five, fifteen, or fifty years. We can and should hold men accountable for their behavior, without becoming an oppressor.
As women, we are emerging out of a paradigm that saw us narrowly as either mother, monster, or whore. The movement to destroy that paradigm is so intoxicated by rage that women are being becoming consumed by it. We are allowing the destruction of all that is beautiful and divine about being a woman, while also destroying men. Rather than understanding and reclaiming archetypes of mother, monster, whore, we are crushing pieces of the female psyche and identity, even as they’re embodied or understood momentarily through phases of a women’s life, much like the archetype of mother, maiden, and crone.
Instead of learning about the power of female sexuality, the life-giving nourishment of motherhood, and even the dark transformative power of a woman’s rage, we are dangerously arguing to redact these figures from the totality of culture. In other words, we are saying, “Do not see me as a woman.” Pair this with the trend favoring fascism and socialism under “Democratic socialist” movements, and you begin seeing how one movement fuels another.
Women are also not seeing these trends as another form of the manipulation of the older frameworks they’re pushing against. The newest propaganda against the feminine is that we’re just like men. It’s a rejection of gender, an abomination of natural order. A gender-neutral comrade. A unit of the state.
In our collective rage, we haven’t held space to explore the strength a woman’s femininity and what that gives to her and to him, offering balance and completing the covenant and sanctity of male and female duality — as is the belief within both Judaism and sacred feminine traditions that believe in goddess energy. If both, the oldest monotheistic faith and a culture of new-age feminism, see women as something unique from men and powerful in their own right, then that is worth deeply exploring and also bringing to the surface at this critical juncture.
In fifty to 100 years, maybe more, we will look back and see how the women’s movement of the 1960s and ’70s through modern day destabilized society by attacking the family unit. These seismic cultural shifts are cross-generational agendas and far more sinister than any temporal movement catapulted with professional organizers and millions of dollars. As a Muslim reformer ushering in a movement with colleagues of the last 15 years, I know that meaningful shifts of this size do not gain momentum on their own.
They’re pushed and they have been pushed across the last 100 years, either intentionally or unintentionally, beginning with the women’s vote, and World War I and World War II, all of which pushed women into a new sphere in society. From 2017 onward, we were so wired for equality and so arrogant toward faith traditions that we didn’t pause to give space to our rage, and to use rage as a transformative experience rather than a weapon of destruction.
Steve Bannon recently warned that women are going to “take charge of society,” — a claim that follows another popular belief that “the future is female.” Without nuance and dialogue, these are extremely dangerous trends. As a mother to a beautiful young boy, I want to know there is space for him in a world that believes the future isn’t exclusionary toward one sex, but inclusive toward dignity for all of humankind.