How has the virtual world reproduced women's priorities? Featured

By Fatima Abdel Raouf April 26, 2023 3074


Societies' priorities change with the passage of time and the emergence of new developments. Every era has its issues, concerns, and priorities. Now, in the era of the digital revolution that we live in, there is a world parallel to reality, created by that revolution, and it is the virtual world, with its sweetness and bitterness, its crises, and its advantages. Dealing with it has become an inevitable matter imposed by the process and development of life.

Women of all walks of life dealt with this virtual world and interacted with it, and it satisfied their needs, created others, and created new priorities for women, and others that were reproduced, in the era of "Social Media" and "Second Life".

This change in the map of interests and priorities prompted the "society" to raise several questions, such as: How did the virtual world affect the priorities of Muslim women? Are there exaggerations about the negative role of this world? What are the ways to contain the crises caused by this virtual world and the chaos it caused?

In a not-too-distant context, do women's priorities revolve around the thesis of female centrality now? Or are they false priorities resulting from imaginary needs? And how did the feelings of anger and dissatisfaction affecting large segments of women reflect on those priorities?

Al-Mujtama Magazine asked these and other questions to activists and experts in feminist affairs.

Identity crisis

Moroccan writer Wesal Taqqa, a researcher in family affairs, believes that the priorities of Muslim women, in general, do not correspond to what is required of them by Sharia. According to Taqqa, communication sites and virtual worlds are accused of being the main cause of this. The model issued by the communication sites is the model of a selfish woman who sees herself as the center of the universe. A woman who believes that everything should revolve around her evades her responsibilities, clashes with Islamic legal postulates, exploits some controversial jurisprudential details to justify her point of view and choices and shirk her duties.

Wesal Taqqa continues: "Hairstyles, shopping outings, TV series, discussions in social groups, and other concerns have priority over her children, husband, and those whom God has made her responsible for. Rather, she may deviate in her thinking to the point of choosing a life of celibacy, independence, and freedom over marriage and commitment to its requirements." "

Taqqa sums up a group of contemporary Muslim women's crises that resulted from this in a crisis of understanding their roles, a crisis of self-awareness, the meanings of self-realization, a crisis of understanding responsibilities, rights, and duties, a crisis of understanding their message, and their role in reconstruction.

The Moroccan researcher adds, "Women also suffer from a crisis of reference, a crisis of understanding and compliance with the religious text, confusion between means and ends, and a crisis of prioritization.

According to Wesal Taqqa, the Muslim woman suffers from a crisis of role models and a model to refer to in building her perceptions after a break with what the family and companions of the Prophet Muhammad, may God’s prayers and peace be upon him, provided us with reference models that help understand identity. To seek freedom from duties.

The Moroccan researcher believes that the contemporary Muslim woman is trying to confirm the distinct identity that desires liberation from forms of alienation and oppression, but without a real understanding of the requirements of the relationship between her and the man in the common space between them. It is in a crisis related in its entirety to defining its relationship with Allah, with herself, and with the other.

Proposals to get out of the tunnel

Wesal Taqqa proposes some theses for the exit of Muslim women from this tunnel. She believes that it is obligatory to resort to the Islamic reference, and to define what is necessarily included in the rights of women, and what cannot be considered a right, and what opportunities are available to her that do not clash with her nature and role, and what is meant by empowerment, which should not in any way be synonymous with rivalry or confrontational and confrontational. Therefore, it is necessary to specify the reference to which it is invoked, foremost of which is the religious text. The conditions of the mothers of the believers and female companions, as they are the beacon, and then followed by every bright and honorable example of women from her environment or era.

For this reason, it is incumbent on the Muslim woman to seek legal and worldly knowledge by which she can get rid of her ignorance and illiteracy and understand her message and what is required of her to reconstruct the earth, and understand her rights that the Sharia gives her, and protect herself from injustice and domination. With this knowledge, she learns the jurisprudence of balances, the arrangement of priorities, how her life is organized, how to be a successful woman by all standards, how to formulate and fulfil her goals and correct her concepts.

In short, Taqqa believes that the Muslim woman must understand her femininity and her role (what she has and what she has to do) in exchange for the man's role without rivalry or competition and without insulting the roles. They must comprehend the religious discourse addressed to them, and understand the areas of rulings, the limits of what is permissible and what is forbidden, what is right and what is obligatory, and the meaning of the difference in striving between the two sexes.

False Needs

Educational writer and relationship coach Maya Abbas believes that the biggest manifestation of the impact of the virtual world on women's priorities is the often-false needs it creates, whether they are material or moral needs.

Actual need is what expresses a real shortage and a lack of something without which life is disrupted to different degrees. On the question of whether it is possible to generate false needs, whether material, social or personal, that change the thinking and behavior of women and control their prioritization?

Abbas answers that, explaining that this is what we live with daily considering the power of influencers and the power of social media. The girl may be satisfied with her shape and not interested in some defects that a human body is not without, but under the weight of falsifying pictures and videos, the spread of advertising for products that solve a problem, and the talk of women and girls in private groups about experiences of getting rid of a physical feature, a feeling of distress is generated in the girl, and she begins In the same note with a new image. A new and perhaps sweeping need is formed based on the pressure of virtual groups.

Abbas sets an example of what happens in "mothers' groups"; Where women's "groups" are characterized by revealing and sharing the smallest details, and the matter is not devoid of some pride and a spirit of competition, especially among mothers, and this represents pressure on a large group of mothers whose feelings of shortcoming and delay increase when they are involved in mothers' groups, or follow some influencers, and under The pressure of “FOMO” or “fear of missing out”. She begins to follow up on new products or educational methods for fear of being a late mother or missing out on many benefits for her children. She sees mothers taking children to many different courses, exercises, and “camps”. With the pressure of competition, the matter turns from sharing useful information and transferring experiences to a frantic competition, because of which the most important of the mother's communication with the young and meeting real needs may be lost to the less important or imposed by the pressure of virtual peers.

Abbas refuses to manipulate priorities in favor of formalities, as she believes that the virtual world has created certain images of the lifestyle of the contemporary girl, the successful woman, the wonderful mother, and the happy wife, that may impose false needs and manipulate priorities in favor of appearances and formalities at the expense of quality of life and relationships. Abbas believes that it is not possible to escape from this influence that surrounds us from everywhere except with constant awareness and advice that “what is less and is sufficient is better than what is abundant and distracting.”

Family Breakdown

The teacher of readings and the director of the Young Learner Academy, Laila Fawzi, believes that women's priorities in the time of the virtual world have differed greatly from what they were in the past so that herself became her most important priority.

The ego's questions have become the focus, so how does it achieve comfort for itself? And how to provide her own income to meet her needs, which have become very extensive, as she no longer compares herself to her neighbor who is similar to her in social class, but rather compares herself to women in the world, and the forms of entertainment they possess. Thus, her aspirations increased in a shocking way, and her area of concern for her husband, children, and home decreased.

Laila Fawzi gives an example of women spending long hours on various social media sites while being unable to teach children, make their favorite food, or even spend enough time listening to them and having a dialogue with them.

The biggest disaster, according to Fawzi, is that some women compare their husbands to the rest of the men in the virtual world. Women no longer seek their husband's approval, and it has become easy for them to file for divorce in order to live independently. Even after divorce, many women refuse to return to live with the family to remain free, as there is widespread dissatisfaction among women, whether towards the husband or the family institution in general.

Fawzi denounces the romantic relationships that some married women get involved in because of the ease of communication in the virtual world. This was not known in the past, except for fallen women, while chaste women are now involved on communication sites with words that start in an ordinary way until they reach prohibited areas.

Among the negative effects that Fawzi also monitored for the communication platforms is the delinquency of a number of girls, some of whom are still in the secondary and even preparatory stages, to film dance clips to earn money and fame, and some of them wear a hair covering. Some of them are from respectable homes who take advantage of the inattention of their parents, while in the past only professional dancers did so in places of promiscuity.

This does not mean, according to Fawzi, the generalization, as there are women who were able to invest in the virtual world and obtain Islamic studies remotely and obtain licenses in the Holy Qur’an that were not easy to obtain. The same applies to many online courses, but she believes that the bottom line is that women who are affected in a negative way are much more.