Fatema Mernissi, prominent Islamic feminist scholar

Fatema Mernissi, a Moroccan feminist sociologist noted for her work on the sexual politics of Islamic scripture, passed away on November 30th, aged 75. 

The New York Times reports:

Throughout her work, Professor Mernissi, who favored a moderate, inclusive Islam, emphasized that her deep study of religious texts had turned up little support for women’s long subordination. That reading, she argued, sprang from centuries of misinterpretation by male leaders intent on maintaining the sexual status quo.

“Not only have the sacred texts always been manipulated, but manipulation of them is a structural characteristic of the practice of power in Muslim societies,” Professor Mernissi wrote in “The Veil and the Male Elite: A Feminist Interpretation of Women’s Rights in Islam” (1991, translated by Ms. Lakeland). “Since all power, from the seventh century on, was only legitimated by religion, political forces and economic interests pushed for the fabrication of false traditions.”

This would be a timely moment for Mernissi’s important work to receive fresh attention.

Trigger Warnings (Again) by the Numbers

Some interesting numbers, via fivethirtyeight.com:

In order to roughly gauge how common trigger warning policies were, and to find out how professors felt about the possibility of being asked to include them, the National Coalition Against Censorship partnered with the Modern Language Association and the College Art Association (professional associations for scholars of literature and art) to poll their members during the spring of 2015.1

Almost none of the more than 800 members who replied to the survey said their school required trigger warnings. Only 0.5 percent of respondents said that their institution had adopted such a policy. (About a third were unsure whether their school had a policy in place, which would suggest that the policy, if it existed, wasn’t particularly well publicized.)

If professors provided content warnings, it was most likely to be because they chose to do so. A third (34 percent) of professors said they had warned students about the content of their courses once or twice. An additional 11 percent said they had given warnings several times, and 12 percent gave them regularly.

The vast majority of professors surveyed (85 percent) said students had never asked them for trigger warnings. Thirteen percent of professors had gotten a request once or twice, and only a tiny proportion of professors polled said they received trigger warning requests several times (1.4 percent) or regularly (0.3 percent). The professors reported even fewer student movements; 93 percent of professors said they were not aware of any student-led efforts to adopt a trigger warning policy at their school.