To the otherwise really nice guy that posted “Islam needs more women like this,” my response is “Um, no.”
I think it’s great that we have so many female Muslim athletes competing in the Olympics this year. The whole world seems to be in love with Ibtihaj Muhammad, and I don’t blame them, because she seems cool.
But, don’t make me feel that just because she and other female Muslim athletes are making strides in a field where Muslim women have been underrepresented, that I need to all of a sudden basically change who I am.
I am not an athlete – unabashedly so – mostly because I know I will never be an athlete and have no interest in ever becoming one.
This is not about defending an unhealthy lifestyle, let me be clear. I try to make exercise a priority in my life (or have, recently). But for me, exercise is a necessity for my health. I’d much rather be eating cake (my dream for heaven is being able to eat all the chocolate cake I want and not worry about gaining weight!).
Maybe, I’m just defending my lack of interest in sports. Everybody else seems to like it.
But a part of me feels like that, for some people, a woman is only considered a “success” unless she’s living the kind of life that has been deemed a success by, let’s face it, our patriarchal society. You know, a fierce, public, type A leader…
I don’t want to diminish all the hard work that these athletes put in to get to where they are; they deserve all the the success they earn. But by putting this type of work on a pedestal, it feels to me that we’re diminishing the millions of women who face different struggles.
This could all be in my head, I grant the possibility of this. But reading that “Islam needs more women like so and so,” in my opinion, serves to delegitimize the countless, unheard of Muslim women that don’t live that life and probably never will be able to. And in my case, don’t want to.