What an evening!

Tonight (OK, so by the ‘clock convention’, it was ‘last night’ – but the sun has not yet risen when I write this, so, to my ‘regimented mind’, this is ‘tonight’) was awesome!

The Neeje Foundation put on an excellent ‘do’!

And, while I would usually avoid (like the plague) an organization whose name and mission statement appears to be as misandristic as this one appears to be.  Yet, the ‘panel’ – as well as the moderator – were irresistable!

While I knew one ‘ought to’ expect brilliance from Tarek Fatah (he is one of my heroes!!!) – and Barbara Kay is no lightweight (metaphorically speaking), either – the whole panel was most awesome!!!

And, I must admit, the topics on which they spoke (and what the panelists said about it) were very relevant:  both in the realms of freedom of speech, freedom of religion and the separation of the mosque (church) and state, but also in the fact that both the female panelists addressed (and lamented) the denigration and disenfranchisement of males in our society!

Since so many awesome and brilliant bloggers (and journalists, too) were there (I sat with Kathy Shaidle – she, too, is one of my heroes!!!), I fully expect that there will be most awesome accounts of what was said tonight, written by people more focused and better at actually writing than I could ever aspire to, very, very soon!

Let me just make some simple observations of my own…not necessarily of what was said, but also of what I made of some of the ‘connections’.  Please, note that the following is my construct – I am not quoting the panelists and I do not want to pretend they said the following ‘stuff’ – this is just my interpretation and musings which are the results of my thoughts in response to what was said tonight…  In other words, my conjecture, this should not reflect negatively on anyone else but me….

We are all aware that in many Islamic countries, women have the legal worth or 1/2 that of a man:  from legal testimony to other aspects of life.  Some of the most Islamist countries legally regard women as 1/2-human:  on par with a boy-child, as far as the legal system is concerned.

Now, this is a very contentious issue:  back in the time of Muhammad – in the region of the world where he lived – to be recognized as 1/2-human was a MAJOR step forward in women’s rights!  And, while I have met Muslims who have ‘frozen’ this interpretation of the status of women in Islam at 1/2 that of a man’s status, I have also met Muslim men who have shown that the eventual ‘goal’ of Muhammad was ‘full equality’ of the sexes – he just had to start somewhere!  And, these Muslims insist that the message of Muhammad was NOT to ‘freeze’ the status of women at 1/2-a-human status, but that by ‘taking the first step’, Muhammad was ordering all Muslims to work towards an eventual equality of the sexes.

OK – so this is NOT the interpretation many Islamists are atuned to.  Granted.  But…

Now, I would like to jump to the ‘other part’ of tonight’s presentation:  the minimization and denigration of the importance of the role of ‘father’ and ‘husband-for-life’….  We all know the popular culture is guilty of this – and the panelists provided some very thought-provoking examples, too.

So, this got me thinking….

What happens if a young man is exposed to BOTH messages???

What happens if he is bombarded with the very palpable social message that he is ‘not necessary’ and that he is ‘weighing down’ his beloved and preventing her from achieving ‘true happiness’ through her own denial for the need of his companionship…..AND he is ALSO bombarded by the message that in the most radicalized forms of Islam, the male (husband, father) is not only an integral part of the family – he RULES it?

Would this combination of ‘denial’ on the one hand, and the exaggeration on the other, have a profound impact on Muslim youths???  Could it not be the very vehicle through which their radicalization could be achieved?

I don’t pretend to have the answers…

In fact, it is rather late at night – following a busy and thought provoking evening.  Yet, if you have ideas of how this combination of social pressures might affect our young people, I would love to hear from you!

UPDATE: Deborah Gyapong has a much better post on what was actually presented and discussed by the panelists at the event.  And, she took pictures!