Wh[at] many refer to [...] as First Wave, I call [...] Organic Feminism, because this was a faith-based initiative that did not seek to rebel against the natural roles of women as mothers and wives and the keepers of societal virtue, rather it sought to protect women in those roles and allow them to branch out. Organic Feminism is what is needed in the Muslim World where it can work to end the mistreatment of women and cultural practices such as Female Genital Mutilation and “honor” killings while reinforcing the commitment of women to their Lord and family and the natural biological, mental and physical differences that exist between the sexes. Rather than creating hatred and animosity between the sexes, which is what has happened with feminism in the West. Organic Feminism can reconcile the sexes and create better men, who are not in touch with their feminine side (as the only femini[ne] side a man needs to be in touch with is that of his mother, sisters, and wife), but rather back in touch with the compassion which has been placed in them by Ar-Rahman.
Well, I agree that men's compassion is not "feminine." But when you start talking about "the natural roles of women as mothers and wives and the keepers of societal virtue" and the "natural biological, mental and physical differences that exist between the sexes," I break out in a cold sweat. Alarm bells should go off whenever you hear the word "natural" applied to some quality of human beings (whether by a Darwinian atheist or a traditionalist)*, but "mental" is the word that really scares me: the assumption that women's biological role completely conditions our brains. That way lies a different and inferior education and the burial of women's talents in the nurturing of sons, through whom alone those talents may find vicarious expression. (A mother like that can be pretty emasculating, on the one hand, or create a monster, on the other.) That's where we came from. Let's go higher around the spiral, by all means, not back down it.
*[I'm not saying that there's nothing "natural" about us, but that a prominent aspect of our nature is its elasticity, and that the use of the word "natural" always has a cultural agenda behind it, whether it's the scientist saying we can't rise above our evolved biological urges, or the traditionalist who would dispute that but on the other hand assert that when it comes to women, biology is destiny. You could just as easily say that if you share the species' fabulous furrowed cortex with the male, it's "natural" to seek to use it, and that only male power and survival necessity have restricted women's uses of it.]
[T]he idea popular among some Muslims that by treating women as our spiritual equals, letting women into the public sphere, and wanting to share with our women a relationship that is completely devoid of a power relation might emasculate a man, or leads to a man turning into a woman, is insulting to me as a man. Emasculation does not occur between men and women, but between men and men. I’d recommend not sweating what other dudes think. That is real masculinity.
This prompted me to comment and to try to define "my feminism" in a few words:
“Spiritual equals.” That’s the essence.
You can diagram human being as a triangle. Spirit is the point at the top, it is one. Bodies are the two points at the base: they are opposites. Soul fills in the triangle. The closer to the bottom — the body and physical life — the more different the souls of men and women are*. The closer to the top — spirit — the more alike they become. That’s why you can have a violent jealous fight with someone of the opposite sex, or an exquisite conversation.
Tradition tends to put women at the bottom of the triangle, confined in the world of matter and physical urges and necessities, and men at the top. Ultimately, that will be discovered to be just plain wrong, an artifact of the power and fear of men.
*[And of course even there they're not totally different. The two points meet in the middle: the senses, the memory of infancy, the awareness of death.]