“If All Knowledge Must be Reinterpreted, Why Not Religion?” Says Islamic Feminist


Vanessa Rivera de La Fuente is Muslim, feminist, and a human rights activist
Photo: Personal archive

Background: Journal O ‘Globo, one of the most important newspapers in Brazil, belonging to the transnational media group of the same name, published this interview with Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente on Islamic Feminism. Given its relevance to the discussion on the subject, it was translated by prominent Islamic feminist and scholar Keci Ali to share it with English-speaking readers.

The Muslim women’s movement has different agendas in accordance with the reality of each country. In Latin America, the Muslim Vanessa Rivera fights against prejudice about Islam.

by Isabela Aleixo*

Vanessa Rivera de La Fuente is Chilean and Muslim. Besides being an academic researcher, she’s also an Islamic feminist engaged with questions of gender, human rights, and social development. Vanessa has wide experience in social projects in Latin American countries.

In an interview with CELINA, she discusses the prejudices that Muslim women face in Latin America, explains the movement’s demands, destroys stereotypes, and declares: “I’m a woman and I demand to be treated as a person.”

Do you consider yourself an Islamic feminist? Why?

I consider myself a feminist woman, who lives feminism in all the distinct facets of her life: I’m Muslim; I’m a single mother; I’m a professional woman, an academic; and I’m a women’s rights activist. I’m feminist with all my life experiences. I think being a woman in male-dominated society is itself a political fact, so everything that I am as a woman can be resignified by feminism, including being Muslim. Islam is integrated into my life and my political struggle, which is intersectional. It’s based on the radical idea that all women are people and we deserve equal rights and a world free of violence.

Continue reading ““If All Knowledge Must be Reinterpreted, Why Not Religion?” Says Islamic Feminist”

#WorldHiyabDay at Issue by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente

1-2When World Hiyab Day (WHD) was held for the first time in 2013, I was an enthusiastic supporter. Even my friend Maria de los Angeles from Venezuela, wore a headscarf for a day in sisterhood. She went to her job and celebrated her birthday in a tropical country, fully head-covered.

I am a muslim woman who wears headscarves and turbans. I benefit widely from “Hiyab Fashion,” an opportunity I have to be creative and original with my outfits. I do assume there are good intentions and will of sisterhood behind WHB, but as years go by, I’ve got disappointed about the celebration. According to its founder, Nazma Khan, an Islamic clothing entrepreneur, the purpose of WHD is “the recognition of millions of Muslim women who choose to wear the hijab and live a life of modesty.”

Maybe I am too picky, but this statement disgusst me for its hint of sexism and slutshamming. If heardscarf is equal to modesty and modesty is equal to virtue so, I wonder: Continue reading “#WorldHiyabDay at Issue by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente”

On a Friend’s Departure by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente


On June 25th, I received the news that my friend Zubeida Shaikh had passed away in South Africa. This took me by surprise. The last time Zubeida and I exchanged communication, she was as always, strong, determined and full of life, ready to realize her dreams. Zubeida Shaikh was an avid reader of feminism and religion. I would like to remember her in this space, thanks to which she and I met in life. In 2015, a little before my trip to South Africa, Zubeida sent me an email. She had read my article “Enemy of Islam” and it “was speaking to her”.

So, few weeks after my arrival in Cape Town, we met in the Parliament of the Republic of South Africa, her place of work until 2017, where I visited her in her office and we talked at length about feminism, violence against women and resilience, putting our own stories with patriarchy and abuse on the table. Then we spent the afternoon together. She was the first person from South Africa that I met. She was my first friend in South Africa. Continue reading “On a Friend’s Departure by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente”

Some Thoughts from Experience by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente


I am a woman, a feminist, a Muslim. These three things are me, they are things that I have become, in that order. One is born with feminine sex, but it is only a biological determinism. I was born female and I have chosen to continue living as a woman. I decided to be and live as a feminist. I felt called to be a Muslim and I chose to listen to that call.

I love to be a woman, even in a world that hates me. The woman that I am, with my way of thinking, acting and feeling, my way of seeing the world and myself, is not a product of my sex, but of the story that I have gone through since I left my mother’s womb. The same goes for all women. Even beings born in the same country, city, year, even those who are sisters of blood, do not have the exact same story.

Continue reading “Some Thoughts from Experience by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente”

God, Gender Violence and The Male Ego by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente


We live in a world in which women are the preferred target of different types of violence: physical, sexual, psychological, economic, symbolic and structural, among others. A type of violence we are not talking so much about is spiritual violence. This can be defined as using a person’s spiritual beliefs to harm, manipulate, dominate or control the person.

Spiritual violence includes, but is not limited to: disallowing the person to follow his or her preferred spiritual or religious tradition; forcing a spiritual or religious path or practice on another; belittling or making fun of a person’s spiritual or religious tradition, beliefs or practices; and, using one’s spiritual or religious position, rituals or practices to manipulate or alienate a person. Continue reading “God, Gender Violence and The Male Ego by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente”

Religious Practice and Epistemic Justice by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente


One of the topics that has captured my deep interest during the last year is Epistemic Justice – and its absence, epistemic injustice – a concept which I reflect on often, since it has become a backbone idea in the approach of my work, my activism, my diagnosis of the situation of women in the global south and my vision of the world in which I would like to live. These reflections that I share with you do not intend to articulate a strictly academic presentation. They are my “thinking aloud” and don´t pretend to be completely right nor to establish a truth; rather they express the progress of a personal searching.

I speak as a Muslim feminist who loves to read and write about Feminism and Islam, but is not an academic nor aspires to be recognized as such in this field, although she writes papers and offers lectures in her own capacity on that matters. I speak as a community educator and social entrepreneur, who believes in feminism and spirituality as liberation tools. Since I accepted Islam, I took the experience gained in my work for the political empowerment of grass roots women to nourish an activism in the field of religion and gender justice. Continue reading “Religious Practice and Epistemic Justice by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente”

If this be Madness … by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente


Shamima Shaikh (1960 – 1998) was South Africa’s best-known Muslim women’s rights activist. She was also a brave anti-Apartheid activist, notable Islamic feminist, community worker, journalist and devoted mother who died, 37 years old, from breast cancer. After the Holy month of Ramadan in 2016, I spoke with Islamic Feminist Shehnaz Haqqani about the new-to-me figure of Shamima. I was very excited to know about her and inspired by her fierce and at the same time compassionate moral courage. That year I wrote some pieces about her.

I asked, 18 months ago, Na’eem Jeenah, who was married to late Shamima, if there was a book about her where I could amplify my knowledge about her activism. He said, so far, there wasn´t. Later, I commented to my friend and Chilean feminist comrade, Rocio A., that the idea of an anthology book for Shamima Shaikh had arisen in me.

You must be mad, completely mad, you know? – she said

I am a feminist claiming that we women are people in a patriarchal world – I replied – of course I am mad. Continue reading “If this be Madness … by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente”

Feminazi as Archetype by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente



Feminazi is an image and narrative created by patriarchy to control the liberation and recognition of women as autonomous political subjects, and to serve as a warning to thwart these processes.

It is a label used for male supremacy to name the fearless woman. Fear is a control mechanism used to keep us living in terror of: expressing opinions, gaining weight, walking on the street, being raped, ridiculed, or lonely, not being married, being rejected, or dismissed, having too much cellulite, going to hell, traveling alone, being beaten, believing in ourselves, etc.

Feminazi is a modern myth designed to make us believe that there are good and bad feminists, and that it is possible to exclude and ignore all feminists through labels and stereotypes. A woman’s transition toward liberation can be seen as threatening to others when it is assumed that “someone else” outside the woman herself, has the privilege to define which feminisms are acceptable, or which processes of liberation and searching for autonomy are legitimate, or not.

Continue reading “Feminazi as Archetype by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente”

30 Years of Activism by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente

Diseño sin título

My first memory as an activist is of attending my first political public meeting to listen leaders of the resistance talking against the  Dictatorship, marching holding a sign that read “Democracy Now,” and taking my first dose of tear gas. It was 1988. I was 13 years old. My first menstrual period had come six weeks before. At that time, I didn’t know what feminism was; there were many books forbidden. Social Sciences such as Anthropology, Philosophy, and Sociology were banned in most universities.

But lack of theories could never prevent experience from happening and leaving its imprint. In 1990, at 15, I was gender conscious without recognizing my actions as feminism.

Continue reading “30 Years of Activism by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente”

Kintsugi for the Soul – Part II – by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente


Continued from Part 1.

How do you start to put the pieces together? For me, it was imperative to keep a space to express emotions without self-censorship or self-prejudice, to identify exactly what was hurting me. It was not the What, but the How. A split is always sad, but part of life. I could have been the “ungrateful” partner.

What aches …

Well, just to mention some, it was not the obstacles of a relationship between two people used to singleness, with different cultural backgrounds and family styles, but the neglecting, insults, and public belittling, leading to my progressive invisibility and objectification in the daily life. It was not his one night stand a few years ago with an Islamic feminist I know. Every adult has a sexual past, that is not a problem, but discovering that past was quite current (thanks Whatssap) is the problem. Someone decided I was not smart enough to understand it, so triangulation and lies were employed, with the consequent mind games, an emotional roller coaster that included gaslighting and violation of trust.

Continue reading “Kintsugi for the Soul – Part II – by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente”

Kintsugi for the Soul – Part I – by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente


Kintsugi is a Japanese art technique that consists of repairing broken porcelain or pottery with resin varnish dusted or mixed with gold, silver or platinum powder. It is the art of fixing what has been broken with a precious metal that gives a greater value than that which the piece originally had. Kintsugi makes objects become a testimony of a particular journey.

In September 2015, in Cape Town, my fiance and I went to have lunch and listen to a concert at the Waterfront. Walking through the artisan market, we were struck by a stand where simple mugs of clay and pottery were displayed. Each one of them had been made by a woman survivor of some type of violence or trauma, which put her name and the imprint of her hands. Mugs had no handle, the way to take it was to put your hands in the hands of the woman. So, she connected with you and became part of your daily journey. Moved by the deep transcendence of the initiative, we got a pair. Mine was made by Heather, 54 years old. Continue reading “Kintsugi for the Soul – Part I – by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente”

Who Does Islamic(s) Feminism(s) Belong To? by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente

Who does Islamic(s) feminism(s) belong to?

The answer to this question seems obvious: Islamic feminism belongs to all Muslim women who wish to adhere to it, and feminism is for everybody, as bell hooks said.

In reality however, it is not so easy. Even the most well crafted theories must be implemented by human beings who have been socialized under the Patriarchy’s rules and practices. Lived experience reminds us that feminisms of all kinds are marked by dynamics of power, internalized misogyny, lack of intersectionality, egos, and personal interests.

In this situation I wonder: Are feminisms, and Islamic Feminisms in particular, truly for everyone?

Continue reading “Who Does Islamic(s) Feminism(s) Belong To? by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente”

Rhetoric of a Talking Body by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente



I have been thinking lately in the female body: object of foreign narratives and appropriations to their geography

Who decides what is right to say about a woman’s body? The correct answer is the most logical: The same woman who has something to say, of course. But things are not like that in real life. In everyday life, women still do not have the right to create and elaborate on a rhetoric about our own bodies. Rather, it is still subject to the rhetoric of others.

Rhetoric of Oppression

To speak of rhetoric, in this case, is to speak of the discourses, narratives and representations that dominate the bodies of women. In general, these rhetorics say that if a woman exposes any of the parts of her body that are considered sexually attractive, it is because she seeks sex. If she is covered, she is a modest and timid woman. A woman wearing a suit is considered “fit”, while another wearing a miniskirt is an easy girl in search of “action”. A woman who covers her breasts is a serious woman. A woman who does not, is not and has to endure the “compliments.”

Why? Who defines this? Continue reading “Rhetoric of a Talking Body by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente”

Patriarchy is Killing Us by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente


And not softly..

More than 2000 died by feminicide … More than 700 disappeared in Argentina … And more in Latin America and the world.

A few days ago they found Micaela dead. Her family, friends and my fellow activists searched for her for days, campaigned on social networks, shouted her name everywhere, without quitting and  accepting her death—totally avoidable. Micaela Garcia, a 21-year-old girl, raped and murdered by a repeat sexual offender who was questionably released by Judge Carlos Alfredo Rossi in Argentina. Micaela is one more victim of the depredation with which colonial and capitalist patriarchy attacks the lives of women in Latin America.

I just completed my first six months in South Africa. I live in Cape Town. I love this city, I am delighted by its colors and flavors. I am studying a Master’s in Women and Gender Studies—a goal I had longed struggled for.

In my trip from my home to the university, I think of Micaela Garcia and also of Stasha Arend and Tracy Roman—two girls killed in Cape Town recently. Their lives were violently interrupted while they were returning home. At the end of each of my days, 27 women will be raped, likely by someone they know. Some of them will be killed and thrown in the garbage or into a soccer field, or half-buried in an abandoned house; even in death it seems that we have no right to some dignity.

No matter where, death is my guest and part of my landscape; the scenario of its violence has as background the Andean Cord or Table Mountain. It is the same, because it is the same indolence when it comes to the life of a woman, here or there. And I think: I can move my city and even change the country, and start a new life, even with another name, and my life will remain insignificant because I am a woman—a woman of color, from the south, with all the oppression surrounding me in the air.

How to deal with that pain? Well, I have enrolled as a Rape Crisis facilitator. It is not only for solidarity; it is for survival. Do you see what I see? How could I just watch?

The body of a murdered woman is becoming something so common that daily dead had to receive their own name to describe this horror: FEMICIDE. In Mexico, Susana Chavez coined the slogan “Ni Una Más” (Not One More) to lead the fight against femicides. The writer and activist was herself found murdered in 2011.

About two years ago, women from all over Latin America got together to claim “Ni Una Menos, Vivas nos Queremos” (Not One More, We Want Us Alive). And I wonder why this clamor is not yet worldwide, if everywhere patriarchy is killing us, one by one, on our way home and in broad daylight, with no shame or remorse.

Patriarchy is killing us and many murders only matter while selling magazines and newspapers. Then, the rest is silence, as the silenced femicides of indigenous women whose bodies oppose the last stronghold in territorial conflicts against agro-business or mining corporations, as silenced as those women murdered in the “tranquility of their houses” in the name of love for their jealous partners, as silenced as the girls kidnapped on the way to school to appear later killed with their hands and feet tied, with signs of having been raped.

It is no longer just about reporting and visibilizing, but also about counting them: 57 femicides in the first 43 days of 2017 in Argentina, 3 this week in Chile, 27 rapes per day in Cape Town, all of those lost in the trafficking networks. The hunting of women is systematic. Human beings have bad memories, and who has no memory tends to repeat the horrors. As Karina Bridaseca says:

We must check the systematicity. The bodies, found, disappeared, the bones in the desert, are claimed today and always. Our strength is to have managed to gather them all, to alter the regime of the invisible. This feeds the hope of making the account closed. What is important is that today we all share the same language and demand that the account closes.

Patriarchy is killing us … and not softly. Every time the news reports another woman or girl dead, I check my mother, my sister, my daughter, my friends in Chile. I double check my close friends in Cape Town, to know that they are as I saw them last time: OK. And then I can sleep, knowing that they have returned home.

In Santiago de Chile and in Cape Town we must count, dead or alive. Hope for the figthers and memory for those who are no longer here. We won’t stop asking about all of you. We want to know you have returned home. Our lives must matter.

Vanessa Rivera de la FuenteVanessa Rivera de la Fuente works in community development, gender equality and communication for social change. She has led initiatives for women’s empowerment in Ecuador, Peru, Argentina, Morocco and South Africa. As a Gender Justice advocates with a broad scope of interests, she is a social and digital entrepreneur committed with the strengthening of grass roots organizations and the developing of an independent pathway of thinking, research and academic writing around Gender, Politics and Religion. Loyal lover of books, cats and spicy chai.

Photo: Artivism installation. Crosses represent the women dead and shoes, the gender bias of femicide. Shoes are one of the first things found at the site of a murder.

Deadly in Love: No Flowers, Dignity and Rights by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente

“We don’t want flowers, we want rights.” Kollectiva La Calle (The Street Collective)

Vanessa Vazquez Laba, a scholar feminist and researcher in gender studies in Argentina, with whom I share a first name, activism, and intellectual interests, hits me on Valentine’s Day with the following message:

There have been 57 femicides in the first 43 days of 2017 in the country, and the government has suspended the funding of universities for research on gender based violence.

57 femicides in 43 days…

A heartbreaking message to receive in Valentine’s day, isn´t it?

What does this mean? According to the definition accepted by the majority of women’s rights activists and scholars, “Femicide is a sex-based crime, generally understood to involve intentional murder of women because they are women.” . The World Health Organization states that a Femicide is:

Usually perpetrated by men. Most cases of femicide in the world are committed by partners or ex-partners, and involve ongoing abuse in the home, threats or intimidation, sexual violence or situations where women have less power or fewer resources than their partner.

57 women in 43 days… It means 57 human beings were murdered, most of them in the hands of someone they trusted and shared an intimate relationship with, after a painful process that included different types of violence to deplete their sense of value and personhood.

One woman murdered every 18 hours.

57 women most of whom were abused for one they loved. Continue reading “Deadly in Love: No Flowers, Dignity and Rights by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente”

Women Made of Fire by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente

 climbing-mountains-with-children_webThis was going to be a post about my new life in South Africa; to say what it means for me the return to this country full of wonderful things to do, after an intense and grievous experience in 2015 that pushed me towards a totally introspective period in my life; I was willing to tell you how I managed to put myself together, come back, go out there to face my fears, gather the courage to speak my truth, look for clearance and healing in the same place and with the same people where I was wounded.

But that will be in the next post. Let me talk about my country.

I come from Chile, a country in the southern south of the world, poor in resources and rich in poets. I am Chilean by birth, and I took my first steps on shaking ground. I have survived 3 earthquakes, countless floods, a tsunami and a dictatorship.

I survived to be stronger, more faithful, more free and unbeatably resilient.

During the past 12 days, I have seen, as a distant and impotent witness, my country burning, overwhelmed by fire, in the greatest catastrophe of its kind in the history of the nation.

The fire has advanced more than 700 kilometers away from the first point of ignition, swallowing whole villages, with their houses, public buildings, animals and agricultural land.

I’ve spent these days with tight lips and enclosed in my thoughts, reading news on the Internet, thinking about my family, receiving audios that my sister records for me. My brother was injured protecting his house from the fire, my family is in the area of greatest catastrophe, currently declared “Area Zero.” My concern is huge because the fire is advancing over the city and the assistance seems to go three steps back … I believe in the power of prayer, but I also know the ferocity of nature because as a Chilean I am always expecting to deal with it. Continue reading “Women Made of Fire by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente”

Religion, Dissent and Decolonial Approach in Latin America by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente and Juan F. Caraballo Resto


Talking of decoloniality in religion and theology is today a fashionable stance that has been adopted even by the academic and political mainstream. As Latin Americans, decolonial perspectives affect us firsthandedly. For the last 500 years, our continent has nurtured resistance struggles against the racial, sexual, economic, ethnic and religious violences that emerge from the numerous process of colonization we have endured. With this in mind, in this article we contribute to the debate on decolonization of our religious phenomena.

Decolonizing is to Assume that all Religion can Operate as a Colonizing Agent

The expansion of European colonialism in Latin America transpired through all aspects of social existence and gave rise to new social and geocultural identifications (e.g. “European”, “American”, “Indian”, “African”, etc). The consequences of this domination reverberate to this day.

In this regard, we should not loose track of the fact that all abrahamic religions had their genesis within Latin America in the form of colonial presence. In other words, most of our religious expressions are the product of colonial forms of governance, which benefited from an exclusionary instrumentalization of the religious narratives as a tool to ‘dignify’ and ‘enhance’ the population as ‘colonial subjects’.

This was the case of Christianity. The mission carried out by the first European conquistadores in the Americas was characterized by the drawing of exclusionary theological lines that legitimized some, questioned others, and condemned many. Colonization thus manifested itself in part through spiritual violence on native populations. Evangelization, in this regard, was biopolitical in nature; it entailed the pushing of non-European bodies (and souls) into ‘Otherness’.

This illuminates unto why, for example, nowadays interfaith relations have become a problem, rather than a resource for many Latin American Christian congregations. It is often assumed that to establish lasting links of solidarity with religious ‘Others’ puts at risk the core elements which have been taught to enhance our population by the different metropoles that have governed and preached in our midst.

It is well established that for too long the bases of Christianity in the Americas were built upon imposed and/or conditioned conversions which constantly demanded and reminded people that in order to have ‘goodness’ reside in them, they had to be someone essentially different to who they were; they had to be Christian (Rivera Pagán 2013, 2014; Silva Gotay 1998, 2005). In this regard, long established religions such as Judaism, Islam, Spiritism, and Afro-Atlantic religions such as Santería or Palo have been relegated to inferior statuses in some still colonial contexts, such as Puerto Rico (Caraballo-Resto 2016; Román 2007).

A similar case, can be found within Islam. As mentioned in a previous article, many Muslim congregations in the Americas have done well in mirroring the colonial practices of Christianity. Despite common assumptions, some contemporary Muslim groups have come to our lands with the clear aim of Arabization and, again, through spiritual violence they categorize locals as “others” and, thus “subordinate” them as perpetual ‘underage believers’, who seem to need the Arab tutorial aid relentlessly. At times, their theologies are reminiscent of those expressed by Catholicism 500 years ago: A call to abandon local trajectories and spiritualities, in favor of adopting Middle Eastern names, language, arts and aesthetics, social manners, political causes and even diet. Only then, are us Latin American to be considered by some of these communities as “Noble Savages”.

Although some scholars linked to decolonial studies within Islam have difficulty accepting this, Islam has historically been instrumentalized as a colonizing agent in the Middle East, West Africa, Asia and the Indian Subcontinent.

If we talk about Islam and decoloniality in the same sentence, there should be honesty on these facts.

Colonization occurs not only through the sword and war, also through trade, culture and social discourses that become hegemonic and religion. In this regard, the ‘jihad of the soul’ is seldom devoid of politics. The absence of blood is not tantamount to a lessening of colonial violence. There are many and different ways to curtail, cancel and oppress a people without resorting to their physical extermination.

Religion and the Heterosexual Regime

Colonial religions in Latin America have been characterized by an hegemonic discourse based on heterosexuality as a compulsory scheme, androcentrism, ableism and speciesism. Historically, this has entailed the exercise of a new religious taxonomy (eg. ‘Moro’, ‘Marranos’, ‘noble souls’, etc.). Yet, this also corresponded to an encompassing system of power that intersected all control of collective authority, labor, racial relations, the production of knowledge, as well as sexual access and meaning.

It is well known that many indigenous peoples of the Americas were matriarchal, recognized more than two genders, recognized homosexuality and “third” gendering positively and understood gender in much more problematized terms rather than in the binary terms of subordination monotheistic system imposed.

Such dichotomy not only found its way in Latin America. It also transpired in parts of Africa, which were later linked to our Latin-American contexts by way of slavery. This has been dealt at lengths by Nigerian feminist scholar Oyéronké Oyewùmí, in her work The Invention of Women (1997). In it she states that gender was not an organizing principle in Yoruba society prior to European colonization (idem: 31). Instead, she argues that gender has “become important in Yoruba studies not as an artifact of Yoruba life but because Yoruba life, past and present, has been translated into English to fit the Western pattern of body-reasoning” (idem: 30).

So, it becomes all the more important to consider the changes that religious colonizers have brought, as well as the lip service we’ve paid to it, in order to understand the scope of our Latin American organizations of sex and gender under colonialism.

Theology of Dissent in Response to Religious Heteropatriarchy

A decolonial theology must be one of dissidence if it is to have any liberating character. ‘Dissidence’, here, is not used as a mere label of disagreement, but rather as a situational stance from which the very bases of our legitimization as colonial subjects are constantly contested. And just as the expansion of religious colonialism in Latin America transpired through all aspects of social existence and gave rise to new social and geocultural identifications, a decolonial theology of dissidence must do the same—starting from our own gendered bodies.

In sexual terms, Latin American women and non-heterosexual people have been historically defined in relation to heterosexual men as the norm. In other words, women are those who do not have a penis, and non-heterosexual men are those who do not use their penis according to the norm (Lugones 2003). From a decolonial theology of dissidence this must be contested—placed in a situation of uncomfortable political transactions perennially.

From this point of view, a decolonial theology of dissent is much more than a body of intellectual writings. It is a daily practice—a quotidian mode of resistance—that involves people at the grassroots where the challenges of exclusion are negotiated. Yet, something is to be said for the epistemological zones of privilege where colonialism is also instantiated. There is no decoloniality without resistance, and there can be no resistance against the traditional hegemonic enclaves where colonialism is legitimized, as long as the centers where knowledge is produced conceive people in resistance as “objects of study”, rather than “fellows in knowledge-building”.

Up to this day, ‘Otherness’ is one of the most deeply rooted archaeological legacies left by our colonial religiosities. Upon its finding, some people of faith in Latin America are now left to determine how best to deal with religion(s) in an inclusive, liberating and welcoming way, so that our social contexts become ones where religious, gendered, ethnic, linguistic, racial, and able diversities are not thought of as problems, but a resources to strengthen ties. Only then can we help truly shift this time of instability for our region.

Decolonizing religion in Latin America entails understanding that the religious question is always political, and as such must be contested. If there is any liberating potential in the religious phenomena, this is due to a lucid dissidence that eludes colonial privilege and embraces an ethical compromise beyond religious labels.


Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente is a social communicator, writer, mentor in digital activism and community educator in gender and capacity development. She has led initiatives for grass roots female leaders’s empowerment in Latin America and Africa. She is an intersectional latin muslim feminist in the crossroads between Religion, Power and Sexuality. Her academic work addresses Feminist Hermeneutics in Islam, Muslim Women Representations, Queer Identities and Movement Building. Vanessa is the founder of Mezquita de Mujeres (A Mosque for Women), a social media and educational project based in ICT that aims to explore the links between feminism, knowledge and activism and highlights the voices and perspectives of women from the global south as change makers in their communities.

Juan F. Caraballo Resto is professor of Sociology and Anthropology of University of Puerto Rico Reinto Cayey. PhD in Social Anthropology from University of Aberdeen, Scotland.

Featured Image: Indigenous woman in Chiapas, Mexico, part of the Islamic mission of Dawa in the area, wearing a hiyab and showing a Qur’an in Spanish,

Gender Jihad and Epistemic Justice by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente


In previous articles I have developed my personal perspective on Islamic feminism as a third narrative pathway that responds to the two traditional hegemonic discourses that exist on Muslim women, which I call “idealization of inequality” and “demonization of Islam

The search for gender justice within the framework of Islam has been called Gender Jihad is focused on installing a legal and social equality for Muslim women and groups or identities in the otherness, in line with the equality of divine origin established in the Qur’an. I think this socio-political equality begins with unpacking the epistemic violence prevailing in religious narratives that affects the representations and validation of women and persons in the otherness as equals, ie, like people, like men, the discursive and biopolitics referent of what is “Humankind”.

Islamic feminism is a narrative that provides answers to the epistemic violence represented by the speeches of idealization and demonization. As Gayatri Spiviak said, such epistemic violence is an orchestrated, widespread and heterogeneous project to constitute the colonial subject, as other. Women in religion are colonized subjects. Epistemic violence leads to epistemic injustice that results in unfair practices such as, for example, considering that the testimony of some people is less credible because they belong to certain gender, based on a distorted image of the other, which dehumanizes the individuals who are giving testimony.

The Gender Jihad posed by Islamic Feminisms seeks to establish a declaratory place that is an authentic expression of the agencies women and people in the otherness in relation to a hegemony with a strong colonial bias, represented for the narratives of idealization and demonization. Gender Jihad is the building of an episteme, understanding the right of Muslim women to enunciate and interpret a reality that challenges them, for and by themselves since, as Amina Wadud says “defining religion is to have power over it.”

This discursive possibility is possible thanks to the Tawhidic paradigm developed by Amina Wadud in the early 90s and  in her book “Qur’an and Woman,” a methodology that can decolonize fields of  knowledge, bodies and representational policies of the mainstream narrative about Muslim women and Others.

The merit of her paradigm, among many, is to systematize existing concepts in the Muslim cosmogony, in a way that provides a frame for gender analysis from Islamic theology and promoting the empowerment of women through it. Recognizing, on the one hand, the inherent equality of women as human beings, it gives theological support to a legal equality that for centuries have been at the discretion of Muslim scholars. On the other, it enables women, through rescuing Ijtihad, in our enunciation and narrative capacity as religious subjects. If humans are equal before God, then Women and Others are, by divine right, equally able to read, decipher, interpret and convey their perspective on religious matters.

There cannot be any political transformation, without having an equal right to speak, equal freedom to express thoughts, equal entitlement of movement of the body and ideas, equal agency to occupy material and symbolic spaces, without restrictions.

There can be no Gender Jihad without appropriating the  readings and discourses on gender, religion and jihad.

Gender Jihad begins with the recovery of the right to say and represent, therefore, is a struggle that could have as a prior aim the acquiring of epistemic justice.

This is relevant because “Who can speak” will mark simultaneously “on what terms that person talk.” What concepts and meanings can be used within the framework of the construction of a particular view of reality? What terms become the lens for discerning reality: development, democracy, gender equality, civil society, religion, social agency, etc. Only and exclusively from the enunciation (the power to speak) and from the ability to define the context in which speaking occurs, can one have a voice, that is, be a subject.

This framework for a new reality, based on the epistemic justice, will allow Muslim women to define their own place and have a voice to counteract epistemic injustice. Wadud offers a system of hermeneutic model that enables a “who can speak” and “on what terms” from an interpretation of the Quran from a gender perspective, which recognizes Muslim women agency to define and interpret religion, to build a speech based in empowerment and to rise as “political individuals of faith,” establishing a mapping for the construction of a reality in which they position themselves as people, beyond stereotypes and myths.

Image: Women Fighting Demons – Caitlin Conolly

Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente is a social communicator, writer, mentor in digital activism and community educator in gender and capacity development. She has led initiatives for grass roots female leaders’s empowerment in Latin America and Africa. She is an intersectional feminist interested in the crossroads between Religion, Power and Sexuality. Her academic work adresses Feminist Hermeneutics in Islam, Muslim Women Representations, Queer Identities and Movement Building. Vanessa is the founder of Mezquita de Mujeres (A Mosque for Women), a social media and educational project based in ICT that aims to explore the links between feminism, knowledge and activism and highlights the voices and perspectives of women from the global south as change makers in their communities.

Caring as Resistance and Sisterhood by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente


Every week, the women participating in my workshops easily share their experiences in the social, political or community world. However, it is difficult for them to talk about themselves. Several of them face complex situations: A divorce or a long layoff, illness of a relative whom they are caretakers, raising a disabled child. They are ashamed to speak up about how they feel; this should not be so. We women have the right and the duty to speak openly about what ails us in our private lives. The idea that the personal is political has to be a perfect circle.

Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi says that the lack of attention to physical, emotional and spiritual needs of women has become one of the weak points in the work of feminists. In our own social and institutional spheres where we work, the combined effects of the strong reactions against women’s movements, harassment on social networks, cultural and religious fundamentalisms, the pressures for leadership and the challenge of finding a balance between multiple spheres of life make it difficult to conserve energy.

While activisms mean resistance to the hegemonic system, some dynamics could reproduce patriarchal control’s devices on women’s emotions and impact us negatively: The expectation of renunciation and silent sacrifice as supreme feminine virtue. Sadness, illness or emotional distress are political issues and a way to control us with them is through the imposing or adopted silence about. Continue reading “Caring as Resistance and Sisterhood by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente”

Have You Seen These Muslim Women? by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente

Shia Women AshuraThe photo that accompanies this article, or others similar, have been posted, shared and commented through social networks as expression of the inherent misogyny of Islam, with descriptions such as “DAESH taking women to sell in the concubine’s market” or “Muslim women being carried to forced marriages”. I’ve also seen this picture being used by some feminists in academic conferences to illustrate their presentations on the “Status of Women in Islam.”

This photo has been misused. This image is taken from a religious event which is celebrated for Shiite Muslims to describe the terrible events that took place in Karbala 1,200 years ago. This act recalls the occasion when the family of the Prophet Muhammad, formed mostly by women, was taken prisoner, including children and forced to walk chained. History records and praises the courage of women who bear this painful pilgrimage instead of submit themselves to their captors.

 “Muslim Women” is a Hoax Continue reading “Have You Seen These Muslim Women? by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente”

Islamophobia and Two Tales about Muslim Women by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente

Woman in religion is a story. This means that all that is said about women in all religions, as well as from social and natural sciences, institutions and the media is a  story, a story that is the product of the interaction of mechanisms of power, authority, and performative actions. If gender is a discourse with cultural signifiers, then the “feminine” and “women” in the religious field are too. Speech about women has functioned in patriarchal structures historically, and still now, as a mechanism of control, discipline. and punishment.

In my experience, the situation of women in Islam is generally addressed from two opposing and dominant discourses that I call: The “Idealization of Inequality” and “Demonization.” The “Idealization of Inequality” view argues that the Quran elevated the position of women from a terrible condition of objectification in the pre-Islamic Arab society, also called the age of ignorance or Jahiliyya, a time in which many girls were killed at birth, to a state of full equality and recognition of rights. According to this approach, feminism has no place in Islam. Nothing should be changed. No new hermeneutics must be allowed, since the only differences between men and women stem from biology: women can conceive, men have more physical force. But this does not mean that one is below the other, because, under the “cosmological equality” established by the revelation, the lives of women and men are equal before Allah.

The “Idealization of Inequality” view represents a hegemonic discourse that lacks a strong and coherent response to the prevalence of discriminatory practices against Muslim women based on differences beyond their biological nature: such as the prohibiting women from entering or speaking in some mosques, not allowing women to hold positions of spiritual and administrative leadership, and requiring women to worship in segregated spaces with separate entrances. None of these are related to the “equality” they attribute to the Quran. Nor does the “Idealization of Inequality” standpoint provide real and concrete answers to the other issues affecting Muslim women: institutional violence, racism, stereotypes, and the sexist burden of common narratives.

The “Demonization” view, on the other hand, argues that, with respect to religion, it is not possible to speak of the liberation of women. So all kind of activism or feminist initiatives coming from or seeking background in religion are oxymorons. Accordingly, there would not be Catholic, Muslim, or Mormon feminism or the possibility to develop feminist hermeneutics that can be taken seriously. An important feature of the “Demonization” argument is the assumed axiom of a fundamental difference between East and West, pitting the rationality of “we” against the irrationality of “them,” and the analysis of “our” development versus “their” underdevelopment:  reaffirming the western identity as superior. And here lies its most egregious shortcoming: “Demonization” acts as judge and jury in regard to the description of the oppression of all women perceived as “other.” First, it places them in the category of otherness, and then it defines the causes of discrimination suffered by them in their societies. Finally, it gives “us” the messianic ability to save “those” women. Continue reading “Islamophobia and Two Tales about Muslim Women by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente”

Khutba “A Call to Radical and Angry Women of Faith” by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente

Sacred+Circle+home+page+image+oneI am grateful to the Interfaith Group of Feminist Theologians and Women of Faith for remembering my spiritual affiliation and giving me the opportunity to lead this service in this fully of blessings month of Ramadan and share with you a reflection in the form of a sermon or khutba. Perhaps you know that in orthodox Islam, tradition, without any theological basis, still forbids women to speak or lead rituals. So, this is a joyful occasion for me and I want to start with my usual invocation:

I thank God for this day. I praise Allah for the paths I had to walk that led me to its light and the present day. I ask the protection of the Divine that lives in the essence of everything. and I invite my female ancestors to walk with me in this journey.

A Call to Radical and Angry Women of Faith

My dear sisters, I want to invite you this evening to reflect on what it means to be a radical woman of faith, in a context of extreme upsurge of violence against women and minoritized groups we live in. What does mean being a radical woman? As we know, radical women are feared even by their activist and feminists peers. For the mainstream of society, a radical woman is a little crazy, a little witch, a little ugly, and especially, a very angry woman.

Well, they are right about anger. To be radical is to be as outraged enough to, fearlessly and tirelessly, claim and work for the total end of all kinds of oppression. You heard it right, the total end of all kinds of oppression. For women of faith, like us, who believe in social justice as the prior duty and principle of living in the creation, the current status of abuse, violence and exploitation to which a part of humankind is subjected must provoke us to rage, anger and outrage.

Aren`t you upset? Because I am. Religious patriarchy has historically exercised and endorsed, until today, violence against women and those group defined as “minority.” This religious patriarchy, composed for priests, imams, lamas and rabbis legitimize multiple forms of exclusion of women, sexism, control of our bodies, misogyny and rape culture.

This week we mourn the death of about 50 of our Latino siblings in Orlando. We have to add to this list the hate crimes against queer people in Veracruz, México, as well the slaughtering of women in thousands of gendercides that have become the standard cover of newspapers every day, and the violence against lesbians and trans women, crimes that fail to capture the visibility and solidarity of a homophobic and androcentric society.

Without denying the misogyny and homophobia existing in my community, I want to say that the specific religion of those criminals doesn´t matter, you know why? The pernicious influence of religious patriarchy extends beyond the limits of our assemblies. People blame misogyny and LGTBQphobia on religions as if this is something external to their lives. But each day, at the school, workplace and media our society reproduces all that hetero-sexist, colonial, racist, elitist violence. Heterosexuality as a political regime, validated by hegemonic religious narratives, present in all belief systems, is a source of violence and a form of terrorism itself. Continue reading “Khutba “A Call to Radical and Angry Women of Faith” by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente”

Feministing Sarah and Hagar by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente

sarah_hagarOne story that has marked my life as a feminist is that of Sarah and Hagar. This is a story of pain and enmity among women under patriarchy that despite its age, is still relevant to illustrate the negative effects of the androcentric socialization. But it can also hold an inspirational feminist reading that leads us towards a reflection on the amazing possibilities of a shift in the way we women look at each other.

Feminism is a political practice, an ethics for living based in an option for women. It is not or should not be a Diploma, a chair where to work from 9:00am to 5:00pm, or an excuse to act from our own privileges against other women. In private and in public, in academia or in the street, in sexual, cultural, intellectual and religious affairs, a feminist is a feminist, without excuses or regrets.

This year I was part of the anthology “Jesus, Muhammad and The Goddess” with an essay called “The Wounded Goddess: The History of Sarah and Hagar From a Feminist Outlook” from which I want to share some excerpts with you, as follows: Continue reading “Feministing Sarah and Hagar by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente”

Woman Is Not Anonymous by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente

Vanessa Rivera Virginia Woolf

Lately I have been reflecting on this quote of Virginia Woolf: “For most of history, Anonymous was a woman.” Here she points out the deliberate invisibilization of women’s contribution in all areas of human endeavors.

Patriarchy always takes these contributions for granted. For centuries, domestic labor has been invisible and not considered work. It has put beauty over intelligence, even with women of outstanding intelligence. And in terms of knowledge and intellectual production, patriarchy has appropriated women’s ideas and in presenting them as “anonymous,” presents them as it’s own.

Thanks to the feminist reclaiming of history, and proving the accuracy of the premise that “Anonymous is woman,” we have learned of the long list of inventions that were made possible due to women’s ideas who were kept invisible, unnamed, unquoted,  and erased;  after all, she was “just” a “woman.” Continue reading “Woman Is Not Anonymous by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente”

Islamophobia is Gender Violence and a Feminist Issue

The case of Larycia Hawkins, an African-American Christian, Associate Professor of political science at Wheaton College in the United States, who published a photo on Christmas day on Facebook wearing a headscarf in solidarity with Muslim women victims of Islamophobia, has raised a significant controversy about whether non-muslim women wearing the hiyab is useful for Muslim women and our feminists struggle in Islam or not. Beyond the debate about veils, the heated discussion that followed reminds us that Islamophobic violence against Muslim women is a gender matter that must be addressed not only by Islamic feminists, but also by all decolonial feminists.

According to Itzea Goicolea Amiano, a Spanish researcher, in her work “Feminismo y Piedad” (“Feminism and Piety”):

Gender Islamophobia is a term that refers to the xenophobic and Islamophobic attitudes mixed with sexist and misogynist discourses that oppress, discriminate and targets with a negative preference for Muslim women more than muslim men …

Continue reading “Islamophobia is Gender Violence and a Feminist Issue”

Xmas and Feminine Wisdom by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente

Katherine-Skaggs-1029.ABUNDANCE-ANGELI am not fond of Christmas and these holidays are very difficult for me to deal with. This has nothing to do with me being a Muslim. I have been a Grinch before this. I do not like excessive noise or crowds of people. It bothers me especially the excess, the lack of meaning and loud claims for kindness and mercy to decorate our lives for few days. This year is proving particularly hard for me.

Experiences of 2015 have forced me to question the paradigms under which I had lived until now. Life is suing me for an extra effort of introspective, growth and openness and that can be painful at times. A few weeks ago, I was venting my sorrows and doubts to my mother. I told her that the last thing I wanted to do was install a Xmas tree. She looked at her own Xmas tree full of golden balls and said:

“You know why I like Christmas trees? You were born a week before Pinochet’s coup. That year, the Dictatorship forbade people to buy, sell or cut pines trees under punishment, which ruined our Xmas, since plastic ones were very expensive. I built a tree for you at home, made of brass and wood. The center was a broomstick and the branches of wire. I cut leaves from empty cans of milk. I lost a child before you came to my life. And you were born in a country that suddenly lost freedom. I could not deny you hope. The Christmas tree has been my way to convey hope. That was my present.”

Listening to my mother, Christmas took on new meaning for me, a sacred dimension. I understand the sacred as those things, memories and spaces that are vital for us, all of what gives our lives meaning, purpose, reason and inspiration. I come from a family of women where husbands, brothers and male cousins are scarce. Joy, mourning, religion, knowledge or strength have been developed and shared from womb to womb. Continue reading “Xmas and Feminine Wisdom by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente”

All Male Panels and Feminist Movement Building by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente

All Male Panels and Movement BuildingMaking visible gender inequities in the accessibility, acquisition, and transmission of knowledge is essential to breaking ceilings and barriers that prevent women from full participation. This is especially critical in religion, an area in which Patriarchy has bashed women in a systematic, deliberate and cumulative way throughout history.

The current dominant discourses about Muslim women: idealization (sustained by religious patriarchy) and demonization (which corresponds to a Western vision) universalize their own particular way of seeing reality through privilege and representation of female otherness and don´t give women a voice or the chance to declare an epistemic space, meaning a symbolic place of discussion where our experiences with knowledge are relevant.

This is why initiatives like “Not More All Male Panels” and other similar are important. Who dominates knowledge, manages explanations and represents reality is important. If women are excluded, then it is as if women do not exist. The inclusion of women in knowledge serves two purposes: one is simply our presence in instances where knowledge is produced; the other, which my reflection is about, concerns appropriation of knowledge and spaces via movement building.

Panels, Ceilings and Walls

A few weeks ago I participated in a panel to discuss women and feminism in religion. One of my peers spoke to me about the perception of Islamic Feminism. To paraphrase my fellow panelist:

In ‪‎Islamic‬ ‪Feminism‬, your voice is ignored and disposable, because you lack all of what gives one authority in that field– You are a Latina, living in the South, with no formal education in Islam. You have no Arab/Asian name and you speaks Spanish. In a Feminist world that should be ‪‎Intersectional‬ and ‪Decolonial‬ by definition, you’re a woman racialized in contrast with you peers. If not, tell me in how many lists of Muslims Feminist your name is written.

That was hard to hear, but led me to think that the struggle against our lack of presence in matters of knowledge has not only to do with visibility, but also with access and representation. In this sense, I wonder: who is in charge of knowledge in Islamic Feminism? What are the possibilities for any Muslim woman to become a scholar? This is still something only privileged women seem to be able to do. Continue reading “All Male Panels and Feminist Movement Building by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente”

The Pilgrimage We Need Is Not To Mecca by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente

PilgrimageMany people have been writing about the Hajj from a critical perspective, telling Muslims it is a time to reflect seriously and deeply about what is happening there in Saudi Arabia with our sacred places and rituals. I am here to add my two cents to that fountain but also, to say that the Hajj we need is not in Mecca.

Even when the season of Hajj is over, it is never too late to ponder the idea that Islam is a spiritual path that encourages a way of life based on reflection, responsibility and ethical decisions. The Qur’an encourages believers through many verses to reflect on the reality surrounding the way of life and on our role in it like in 29:43, 30:21, & 30:22. Among the things Muslims should reflect on and take action concerning are firm opposition to oppression and raising their voices against injustice. That is the call of Allah  in 57:25, 4:76, 4:135, 5:8, for example.

We all know what happens in Saudi Arabia. So, I wonder, if we believe the word of Allah is true: why do some of us, declaring ourselves believers, continue to fuel the arrogance, injustice and oppression of the usurpers of our Faith? Why are we still funding the oppression occurring in Saudi Arabia with performing the Hajj? Are you naive or sheep-minded or unwilling to take responsibility for the role you play in the maintenance of oppression in the name of Islam?

You pay thousands of dollars to the Saudis for the Hajj, and with that you finance a million dollar business that has nothing spiritual or halal .. yes, hear me well: HAS NOTHING HALAL ABOUT IT! Then at the Mosque, Mussala or Derga you are shocked that the Saudis invaded Yemen to kill Muslims, make deals with Zionism, leave thousands of people to die at sea without giving them shelter, torture dissidents and activists and treat women like animals.  After all of that, why do you complain if you don´t have the courage to act as prescribed by the Quran and oppose injustice? Instead you fund oppression and become part of the problem. You are an oppressor by omission and payment via PayPal or Visa! Continue reading “The Pilgrimage We Need Is Not To Mecca by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente”

Offering My First Khutba: On Imaan & The Divine Presence by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente

Vanessa Rivera First KhutbaFor the last 6 weeks, I’ve been living in Cape Town, South Africa. This has been a blessed opportunity to grow, to gain more knowledge, and to reach outcomes that are beneficial both for my work as an activist and for my life as individual. One of the challenges I took up, on Friday, July 24th, was to offer my first Khutba ever: the text of which I share with you:


I thank God for this day. I praise Allah for the paths I had to walk that led me to its light and the present day. I ask the protection of the Divine that lives in the essence of everything. and I invite my female ancestors to walk with me in this journey.

On Imaan and The Divine Presence

Allah speaks about Imaan (Faith) in the Holy Qur’an in Surat number 2 verses 1 to 5, which some scholars call “The verses of faith and belief.” I like especially ayat 2 that says:

“That is the book. There is NO DOUBT in it, a guidance to those who are truly conscious.” Another translation says, “Sure, without doubt, a guidance for those who are God-fearing.”

Let’s think a moment about this:

1.- Allah tells us that the Holy Qur’an is, without doubt, surely, with complete certainty, a guide. There Is No Doubt, that we can put our faith and trust in it, and we won’t be deceived. That’s a beautiful aspect of Faith. We can trust in the promise of Allah that the Qur’an is… without doubt… a guide, a path of spiritual growth and happiness in this world and in the hereafter.

2.- A guide to whom? Allah says in the Qur’an “For those who are truly conscious and God-fearing.” Reflect on this. What kind of Imaan is that? Being “truly conscious” is being aware, and this is to be awakened, alert, attentive,and  in possession of knowledge with our senses and reasoning functioning properly. Then, this is not a blind Faith, but a conscious Faith, an Imaan over which we have direct and personal accountability. Then, the Qur’an is certainly a guide to those who are God-fearing, meaning those who are aware and accountable for their faith; for those who have come to certainty after an effort of conscious reflection, because, as God says in the Qur’an: “Truly in that there are signs for a folk who reflect” (45:13). There is no Imaan without a personal Jihad in matters of belief. Continue reading “Offering My First Khutba: On Imaan & The Divine Presence by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente”

Women Fighting Patriarchy … Against Each Other by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente

Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente. Women and PatriarchyIt is painful to find out the lack of understanding among feminists when controversial issues are discussed, to the point that it seems we have failed in achieving a key factor: transforming the way women perceive and interact with each other. I have been in discussions that begin with great aptitude for addressing issues about which a voice is needed, to finish in symbolic violence by stances in which I can hardly find a trace of feminism. I offer here  just a few examples.

Invisibility: At least in two situations

Case nº1: “No. A woman like you can’t be feminist. That doesn’t exist.” Denying my existence as a feminist is to deny that there are women in the world able to empower themselves, beyond your permission, in their contexts. No one owes you an explanation, by the way.

Case nº2: “She is not my ally (because she is not like me), say feminists who do not accept Muslim women as such, but praise the pro-women statements uttered by a privileged man, well advised by his publicist, because “Everyone can be feminist.” Continue reading “Women Fighting Patriarchy … Against Each Other by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente”

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