This is not feminism

A woman mourns for a family member who was killed in the Karachi factory fire in September 2012. Photo from NBC News.
A woman mourns for a family member who was killed in the Karachi factory fire in September 2012. Photo via NBC News.

This was my response to Isobel Coleman’s “Gender Disparities, Economic Growth and Islamization in Pakistan” (2004), an assigned reading for my Politics of South Asia class today.

Quickly glancing at other students’ responses to this article, my critique differs quite a bit, as it does not focus on the strength of Coleman’s argument for women’s progress as promoting economic development, nor does it focus on the depth of Coleman’s analysis of how Islamization has hurt Pakistani women. Rather, I was compelled to evaluate the entire framing of the argument and the goals it seeks to promote.

The oppression of women in Pakistan is a terrible problem which, like patriarchy in all parts of the world, deeply concerns me. However, Coleman’s article sheds little light on the problem because it admittedly “focuses narrowly on the potential economic consequences of Islamization’s impact on women.”

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