My Body, My Choice!!!
By Ieasha Prime
My, Body, My Choice! Watching, hijab-clad young women march next to middle-aged white feminists while shouting this phrase sent shock waves through the Muslim community. Some scrambled for answers to questions such as, “Can we say that?” Are our women siding with “them”? “Have we lost our Muslim mind?” This scurrying for the answer caused me to contemplate the moment when I stood beside my son in the middle of this massive, spiritually charged and contagious crowd. I remember when this chant began, I paused and looked at him for about 5 seconds and he looked back in my eyes for an answer to “how do we respond to this one?”
Three seconds later, I yelled at the top of my lungs, “My Head, My Choice!” Women and men around me stopped and looked directly at me wearing my three-colored hijab. Realizing the reason for the adjustment in the slogan, they smiled humbly and then chanted with me and my son in call-and-response form. Women said “My Head, My Choice” and men chanted “Her head, her choice!!!” I felt a small sense of victory. But, then about 5 minutes later, I scanned my body as I heard the chants in the distance “My Body, My Choice”, I began to survey my gut reactions to the statement.
Something was incomplete. “My Body, My Choice” began to take a deeper stance inside my heart. Then candidate Trump’s statement crept in my mind, “I just grab them by the P@%%Y and they let me do it because I’m a celebrity.” Later, when asked about it in a world televised debate he replied, “This is just locker room banter.” How dangerous were his words in a time when gang rape is on the rise on college campus’ around the country. I began to rethink how culturally and globally acceptable it was to take away a woman’s choice about her body because she was physically weaker. The new leader of the “free and democratic” world was about to rubber stamp a complete okay to the subjugation of women’s bodies.
Rape statistics in the U.S. and internationally began to flood my emotions: 1 in 3 women in America is sexually assaulted before aged 18 years; and every 13 minutes, a woman is raped in America. By the end of this march, 28 women would have been raped or sexually assaulted. I began to think of the pro-life movement’s stance on no abortion even in the case of rape, incest or threat to a woman’s life. I tried to match those scenarios with Islam’s position and laws about women’s bodies.
What choices did Allah give us and our families in these situations? My studies of fiqh
(Islamic jurisprudence) came rushing to mind and culminated with me shouting “My Body, My Choice!!!” Was I in 100% agreement with the feminist beside me? NO, but we were causing each other to think. If Trump’s locker room banter continues to spill in the culture of America, my human rights are in jeopardy. In fact, my Islamic rights are in jeopardy. I had to stand up for my whole body, head to toe. I had to voice my God-given rights, “My Body My Choice!”
Ieasha Prime is a traditionally educated Islamic teacher, lecturer and educator. She is the Executive Director of Barakah, Inc. a community based organization providing quality programming that raises the conscious mind, engages the heart and uplifts the spirit.