Simranjit Kaur
Andrew Costa
Tutorial 08

Article Assignment: Transgression into ‘Hidden’ Feminism: Immigrant Muslim Woman from India
Shweta Singh

In the article “Transgression into ‘Hidden’ Feminism: Immigrant Muslim Woman from India”, Shweta Singh discusses her argument on “hidden” feminism. According to Singh (2012), “transition into immigrant hood has the potential to be a space for transgression into ‘hidden’ feminism for women” (p. 123). Singh argues that immigration of Indians into western countries such as the United States allows women to have the ability to discover themselves and establish their identity. Singh also believes that internal forces such as family and external forces such as school influence a woman’s identity. An immigrant woman’s views on religion and culture are likely to change when she enters into a modern society. Immigrant women from middle class are more modern in the sense of the clothes they wear, food they eat, entertainment and education. But these women also face the challenge between their homeland culture and the western culture.

Singh uses the classification of immigrant Muslim Indian women in United States, various feminist discourses, and an interview with Nimmi, who is an immigrant Muslim Indian women. Singh gives background information regarding Muslim women in India. In India, Muslim women are yet to be considered unequal with men. However, the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 made Hindu women legally equal to men. Muslim women were excluded from this act and are still abide by the Shariat laws. The Shariat laws allows the Muslim women to uphold their identity as a Muslim. These laws also restrict Muslim women’s identity in their community as they are considered unequal to men. India still to this day deals with inequality between gender roles, and men have power over many unlawful acts such as abortion of females and dowry deaths. Being a feminist in a country like India is very difficult as women are confined. However, immigrant women from India is less restricted in a western country like United States, and have the advantage to discover themselves as they have the right to equal opportunities as men.

Singh believes ‘hidden feminism’ as a way for a woman to discover her identity through their religious beliefs. An example of this is Islamic feminism, women use the teachings of the Quran as the source of their rights. Feminism is not only limited to western countries; it is regarded as a mission for women’s rights all over the world. This concept of Islamic feminism, is beneficial for women because it allows them to believe in their religious beliefs but also being able to have more freedom to identify themselves as an individual. According to Singh (2012), “hidden feminism is an individualistic paradigm. Hidden feminism draws from the realm of postcolonial, Islamic, cultural and global feminisms as it deconstructs modernity and ethics of modern structures” (p.128). In other words, hidden feminism is formed by from different feminisms and that concentrates on individuals that want to maintain their cultural/religious beliefs but also move forward and make changes to improve gender relations.

To support her argument, Singh conducts an interview with an immigrant Muslim Indian woman named Nimmi Akhtar who lives in Chicago, United States. Singh uses Nimmi narrative because she came to the United States with her family and faced challenges between her traditional culture and western culture. Nimmi mentions her mother as someone she does not want to be like. Nimmi’s mother is portrayed as being someone who does not want to be westernized, she does not want to learn English or learn how to drive. Nimmi on the other hand wants to belong in the host culture. Nimmi grew up just interacting with her extended family or her ethnic community.

Nimmi also was married at the age of 16 and blames her mother’s lack of exposure to mainstream society for it. In result of coming to the United States Nimmi was able to change her parenting ways. Nimbi’s mother regarded daughters has stress, Nimmi described her relationship with her daughters as more loving than to her and her mother’s relationship. As previously mentioned Nimmi got divorced from her first husband and remarried to a Hindu. Nimmi’s family did not support her decision on divorce and remarriage, but she believed it was a step in creating her identity. Being