Okin, Is Multiculturalism Bad For
says, respect diversity, all traditions and feminism says challenge all cultural
traditions. It makes sense that they are in tension with one another.
claims the ethical claims of feminism are different from the cultural relativism of
cultural relativism--ethical theory--Morally right= that which is allowed by a given
1. issues of gender versus money
2. Third World-ism (prejudices against
Okin has criticized Kymlika for not going far enough in looking at gender inequalities
position: two kinds of group rights
1. internal restrictionsrights
claimed against its own membersthese restrict individuals from questioning,
revising, traditional cultural roles and practices (he doesnt want these)
2. external protectionsrights
claimed against the larger society in order to reduce their vulnerability to the economic
or political power of the larger society (he endorses these: language rights, political
representation, ethnic media, land claims, compensation for historical injustice)
that Okin is opposing feminism and multiculturalism
1. They both make similar points about the
inadequacy of the traditional liberal conception of individual rights. Both point out that
we have to look at societal institutions (workplace, family, schools, media) since these
are typically gendered, using the male as the norm
2. We cant just give formal rights
to minorities and think justice will occur
3. We must address the needs and interests
of women ad ethnocultural minorities in our theories of rights and equality (veil of
4. Both look for similar remedies some
argues that multicultural and feminism are allies in a similar struggle for a more
inclusive idea of justice. Both can teach the other something.
whether groups that are not liberal and who are sexist should be given protection by
liberal states or should these cultures be altered or allowed to become extinct.
implies that there is a slippery slope from veiling to murder and that all these things:
veiling, polygamy, clitoridectomy all signal one thing: male violence against women.
all these practices are patriarch practices that oppress women in the name and disguise of
begins by stating what she agrees with in Okin's article: worries that after all the gains
feminism has make, these gains might be diminished by multiculturalism demands for group
rights. Everyone might become exempt from following gender equality if there are too many
exceptions for culture. Honig also agrees with Okin that people who move here from other
places would be protected from violence.
Okin does not investigate the claim my culture made me do it in enough depth
according to Honig. Okin doesnt examine liberalism enough, her own culture, in order
to understand the problems with her own presentation of other cultures. The practices Okin
labels as sexist as more complicated within we look at the meaning of culture and religion
in more depth.
example, the way Okin readings Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are too simplistic.
1. These do not just seek to control womens
sexuality. They also seek to control male sexuality. Gender separation is for women and
2. She leaves out how Judaism is passed on
through the mother.
3. Ignores the virgin birth of Jesus in
Christianitypower of females
4. Veiling might not be totally sexist, a
symbol of female subservience. We need to look more at the context in which veiling
functions. Many Muslim feminists see veiling as an empowering practice. (talk about
mystics, nunspower gained from separationBedouin community, convents, girls
5. Polygamynot necessarily worse
than the problems that occur in monogamous households (also problems of isolation in
not a simple task to say which culture is better or worse. We need to critically reflect
on our own institutions as well.
assumes that Western liberal regimes are automatically less patriarchal than other
regimes. So, okay, Okin is right to question the relationship between feminism and
multiticultural but to autocmatticlly assume that liberalism is okay doesnt
criticize her own standpoint enough.
I. Okin has to be careful in how she talks
about cultureCulture does not equal foreignness (lets be cultured!..).
Her case about the Iraqi man who married his young daughters is not totally foreign to our
country (Jerry Lee Lewis). Culture is a
living, breathing system for the distribution and enactment of agency and power. (quote)
Culture includes race, class. Locality, lineage and even those who are the least empowered
have some measure of agency in that setting. So, eliminating cures is not the answer
(colonialism and assimilation practices should warn us about that)
II. Okins second alternative is more
promisingtry to support cultures in altering their practices to reinforce
equality. But this will demand that western feminists scrutinize their own practices as
well. This is important for the solidarity of feminists.openness is going to be very
important (and this is difficult even if it sounds easy)
Is a Muslim.
the start. Okin has not used sources from within the culture/religions under discussion.
She commits significant errors in assessing other belief systems. (misunderstands
Qur-an doesnt say Eve was created out of part of Adam. It says ales and females were
created by God from the same soul.
1. Founding myths in Islam are not
patriarchal, the patriarchal part comes in with the interpretations of the Qur-an.
Okin conflates religion with culture. These are different (important)
have to understand some basic Islamic principles in order to totally get this:
a. interpretation is encouraged
b. Islam is a world religion
c. Laws can change
d. Takes public interest into account
true feminist call to reform Muslim countries must respect their religious and cultural
beliefs. When you separate religion and culture it will be easier for Muslims to accept
change (changes of culture, not religion)
3. Okins position violates
separation of church and state and the freedom of belief. She misses that her talk about
saving women of minority cultures from internal oppression might miss what they do get
from these practices (veiling, separation, rituals of bathing can be understood from a
woman centered spiritual celebration of womens bodies. Etc..Bodning with women). Why
is it oppressive to wear a head scarf and not a miniskirt?
doesnt appreciate the religious values at work here and this is patriarchal on her
part according to Al-Hibri.
about choicesBut how do we decide who has freedom of choice where
there is gender inequality and where not
that is where we need to remain open and
critical of our practices
questions of Okin
1. Can liberal theorists deliver on their
promises to those in minority cultures? Ca they help young women sustain their identities
and human dignity?
2. Are liberal theorists concerned about
the wiser implications of their thinkering.at home and in the rest of the world
concerned that we need to hold all societies up to the same standards for human rights.
Talk like Okin has to be made from the frame of reference of the minority culture
is critical of multiculturalism but uniculturlaism has its own problems. We should work from within minority cultures to