Recently, British Prime Minister David Cameron became the direct eye of a Twitter storm, which ended up being more of a full-blown hurricane. The reason for the uproar was the response to a comment Cameron made regarding the “traditional submissiveness” of Muslim women. The comment was attributed to Cameron by a government source concerning an English language test the British government has announced as a requirement to improve the integration of migrants to their new culture, specifically targeting Muslim women.
Now, Muslim women who live in Britain will be required to be tested on their English language skills, according to the New York Times to “ensure [Muslim women] are integrating into their communities and less susceptible to terrorist messages.
The Telegraph also quoted a government source as saying: “David knows that the traditional submissiveness of Muslim women is a sensitive issue, but the problems of young people being attracted by extremism will not be tackled without an element of cultural change within the community.”
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The biggest mistake that feminists of the western world can make is to apply our cultural norms and feminist ideals onto other cultures when they simply cannot translate. While from the outside, a specific religion or culture may feel oppressive or “traditionally submissive” to us, that in no way indicates how the people (namely here womyn) within said culture or religion feel.
Of those who strongly took issue with the PM’s sentiments, author Shelina Janmohamed told press she decided to respond “in the most British way” she could; with an infusion of sarcasm. Enter: the creation of #traditionallysubmissive – and it truly took off with a wave of resonance, excitement, and support, especially from other Muslim women who wanted to speak against the stereotype that Cameron had seemingly presented as truth.