Priority for men


Albassair is the Algerian Oulamas‘ weekly newspaper. It was edited first in 1935 under Imam Abdelhamid Benbadis‘s direction, and I read it regularly as I find some of its articles quite interesting.

This week’s issue brought us one of those controversial articles on a controversial topic that is raised every now and again, especially during crisis periods. It’s about women work and the title of this article, written under the “shining looks (نظرات مشرقة)” section, is “Priority for men”.
As I expected, the author is a woman (Ms Afaf ANIBA), but I don’t know if it’s done on purpose. I mean it made me think of those who select a Macaw to criticise the parrots or a Wafa Sultan to criticise Islam; but I can’t tell for sure.

Her first argument is very usual: We are Muslim and Islam gives wardship (القوامة) to men over women who should naturally stay at home and seek their husbands’ affection and (financial) protection. This, we remember, was used by the FIS in the early 1990s. She also uses women’s important role in children upbringing to say that if the woman works then the next generation (and the whole country) would simply be lost. These two arguments clearly state that working women go against their nature and turn men into useless “females” and women into weird “males”.

The author also tells us that she doesn’t like to see so many unemployed men when women are filling all the jobs vacancies (although recent statistics show that women’s unemployment rate is still higher than men’s). Does it mean that if we had total employment, she wouldn’t really mind seeing all these “active” women?
This reaction is of course not typical of Muslims, and I think it’s shared by most conservative people all around the world as shown in the opposite figure.

But the “mentalities” have really changed in Algeria, and she admits it. Many Algerian men would indeed not marry a housewife because they want more money to come in the household, and having a job became a plus when looking for good marriage material women.

The author’s last two points are about the state’s politics which, according to her, don’t help the men in their quest for jobs (but does she mean that the state helps the women get jobs?), before claiming that many Algerian men are too lazy and have such a weak faith that they don’t try hard enough to get jobs.

I intentionally chose to not comment on the points she raised but I would like to say two things:
– I agree with her very last point which applies to many Algerian men.
– After writing a not-so-interesting article in a supposedly shining section, I wonder why Ms ANIBA doesn’t show the path by resigning from her job and letting a man have his chance.

Whoever feels the topic deserves more comments, just click on “Leave a reply”.

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6 thoughts on “Priority for men

  1. MnarviDZ, I don’t think this lady is saying priority should be given to men with respect to employment (although it is how she entitled her piece). What she is saying is that women should know their limits and never trespass men’s territory, i.e. outside the home.

    She also seems to put the blame squarely on women and politicians. The former because they have become perversely ambitious (basically men from an Islamic perspective) and the latter because they sought equality between genders.

    Men are the victim, because all these compounded factors made them go lazy and appreciative of these men-like working women. Which in effect makes these men no different than how real women should be, from an Islamic perspective.

    Such policies have resulted in a gender swap on a national scale (women becoming men and vice versa).

    God, I have a headache. But must confess that I’ve seen better sunshine than this.

    • That’s an interesting way of reading into the article and it may very much be her real thinking. But she confuses the reader when she mentions other arguments, and also by her own activity (she’s got many blogs and is apparently active on the national and international scenes).

      See how she found a way to insert the working women topic in this article.

      I should have chosen another title for this post, the automatically generated possibly related topics are so off-topic!

      • What is quite stupid is how work in its largest sense (paid work especially) is linked to biological apptitude and nature rather than the socio-economic and cultural construct that we call ‘gender’.

        I am not sure if it is a modern perception of what Islam says about women’s role in society, but looking back a few generations ago, this clearly was not how Algerian people perceived things.

        It seems to me that what really lies beneath all this is a sense of worry that being able to earn money is making women too independent and thus destabilizing the traditional power balance between the genders.

        I think that work is something very valued and important in Islam, whether within the family, or within society at large (for both genders). With regards to ‘qiwama’, I heard Tariq Suwaidan say that the aya links it with the man’s ability to provide financially. Therefore, this status does not apply to ‘lazy’ men and those who are for any reason incapable of providing. It is a way of looking at things, what I liked most about it is that it is an inferiority-complex-free way of perceiving malehood. A (real) man should still be able to affirm himself as such, even when life hardships make him poor.

  2. صراحة لم أقل أن عمل المرأة حرام و ما أردت قوله أن قوامة الرجل في الزواج تتيح له الأولوية للحصول علي عمل و من حق المرأة أن تعمل شرط أن لا تسترجل فالله عز و جل حرم الجنة علي المسترجلة و علي المخنث. طبعا نظرتي تنبع من وجهة نظر الدين و أنتم أحرار في رؤية مثل هذه القضايا من زاوية اللادين.
    من حق المرأة الخروج و من حق المرأة أن يكون لديها عالمها داخل و خارج البيت بأداءها مختلف الأدوار المناطة بها مثلها مثل الرجل، كل ما نتمناه أن لا تتحول علاقتها بالرجل إلي علاقة تصادمية.
    و شكرا
    السيدة عفاف عنيبة

    • Welcome Afaf Aniba!
      Sorry for replying in English for I don’t have an Arabic keyboard.

      My post is actually quite old… I tried to reread your article but I couldn’t find it. I see algerianna (in the first comment) gave her different perspective on your article which I feel is closer to what you just wrote here…

      I wasn’t looking at the topic from زاوية اللادين but we probably disagree on the matter. Thanks anyway for commenting.

      • You are Algerian and strangly you don’t have an arabic keyboard, nevermind!
        I’m not disagree, I’m ready to discuss about your opinion. And I’m ready to approve it if it’s logic.
        سأبحث عن مقالتي و أرسلها لك لتقرأها علي مهلك إن شاء الله.
        كوني مفكرة حرة، لست ممن تحجر علي الآخر حرية التفكير، فتفضل قدم إعتراضاتك و أنا مستعدة لمناقشتها.
        مع ازكي تحياتي

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