IN PRAISE OF DAUGHTERS
Irshad Manji in her book “The Trouble with Islam” documents her life growing up in the Muslim culture and questions beliefs she feels are not only contradictory but squander the talents of women. She cites numerous passages in the Koran which seem to denigrate females and give them the status of chattels. Western women might cringe at the concepts she exposes, but a minority do embrace the religion and its limitations. I am unable to understand why they would chose to live under heavy restriction but I respect their right to choose to the same degree that I would defend the right of any woman anywhere in the world to set herself free.
Biases in other cultures are easier to detect than those we’ve grown accustomed to in our own. But those biases exist, as most western women know. One surfaced recently of which I was unaware. A British survey tracked the attitude of parents toward their adult children when they are obliged for various reasons to return home. Surprisingly, acceptance or resentment was influenced by gender (Reuters 2/22/2011). Sons, apparently, receive a warmer welcome than daughters. The reasons given are varied but it appears moms are more willing to “coddle their sons” than their daughters. I suppose, if surveyed, American society would reflect the same attitude.
As an only child, I’m lucky to have escaped concerns about gender preference. Quite the reverse. I often heard my mother say,
“A son is a son until he takes a wife,
A daughter is a daughter all her life.”
The verse is platitude, of course, but maybe it bears repeating.