nussbaum interview


In your reflections on human capacities, you underline the importance of a correct and harmonic physical and psychical development and of the possibility for the individual to express his ideas and emotions in a free and open way. Well, if even in the rich West women suffer from restrictions of different kind, don’t you think that these rights are systematically denied to women in the Islamic world?

I think that there is no such thing as “the Islamic world,” and thus no such thing as “a way” to be a woman in it. There are many types of Muslims, and, like Christians and Jews, they find many different ways to be women within their traditions. My Muslim friends in India do not fit any single stereotype – and why should one expect them to? – any more than do my Buddhist or Hindu friends. I think that in all religions there are people who want to live a traditional life and people who want to be part of modernity, and we ought to make room for both and show both equal respect. When I go to the traditional Jewish neighborhood of Boston, called Brookline (as I have recently done, to buy Passover gifts), I see many women living a traditional Orthodox life (and that does not mean that they are not lawyers and doctors and so forth, more or less everyone in Brookline is a lawyer or a doctor!), but of course there are also people like me, whose version of Judaism is Enlightenment-based and modern. We can respect one another, and we do.

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