White culture humanizes white women more than Asian women. Racist stereotypes about the alleged submissiveness of Asian women convince even white women that Asian women lack agency. While most white women recognize the paternalism of a government deciding that women are incapable of exercising our personal choices responsibly, most white women think of Asian women in this way. According to most white women, Asian women need to be rescued from our own follies through the interventions of benevolent white folk.
White history teaches white people that white culture is the pinnacle of civilization. Because of this, most white people assume that social justice can only originate from white people, and that it must be taught by white people to brown people in order to achieve worldwide equality. Even white liberals have this colonial mentality and attempt to “civilize” brown people in other countries or at home. Unconscious white supremacist beliefs are so entrenched that most white feminists simply assume that gender equality must have originated from white imagination, when the history of North American feminism can be traced to Iroquois culture. The idea that white culture is not the most socially advanced is unimaginable to the vast majority of white people.
In North America, Muslim women are racialized as non-white and are subject to Orientalist stereotypes. When a Muslim woman chooses to not wear a hijab, most white women applaud her decision and recognize her agency. However, if a Muslim woman chooses to wear a hijab or niqab, most white women deny her agency and ability to make a choice, insisting that she must be “brainwashed”. For most non-Muslim white women, all Muslim women who wear a hijab or niqab cannot make a decision about her hijab or niqab by definition; only the Muslim women who choose to not wear any hijab are capable of making an informed decision about wearing hijab. This circular “logic” dehumanizes hijabi and niqabi women as incapable of thinking, and silences any criticisms and insights to be gained from hijabi and niqabi women.
While sexist stereotypes about women prevent white women from being seen as rational agents equal to white men, both sexist and racist stereotypes about “Oriental” women prevent Asian and Muslim women from being seen as rational agents equal to non-Muslim white women.
- The niqab ban is a feminist issue by Jessica Yee
- Québec wants to make niqabi women illegal. by Restructure!