City of Brass

City of Brass


a case study for paternalism and good intentions

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Reflections On Praying

This is a true anecdote:

A hijabi chooses the bottom platform of a quiet staircase in her college’s library to pray. While she is deep in prayer, a white, male classmate walks by and stops to console her by putting his arm around her shoulders because she looked upset.

Though succinct, there’s a lot to unpack here. The good intentions of the classmate are obvious, but there’s an implicit paternalistic attitude here that I think many males, including myself, may not realize they are perpetuating. This is a more subtle bias than men lecturing women about how evil/noble the veil is, or the Femen group parading nude in “solidarity” with muslim women. There’s an implicit assumption in most male-female interactions that the woman is in need of “saving” and that assumption leads to an infantilization. That is certainly better than objectification, but it still falls far short of treating another human being as an equal.

Food for thought.



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