Is Multicultralism Bad for Women by Susan Okin; with a title like this you would think that embracing different cultures and having different cultures exposed to us is bad for our society, especially its women. But Okin argues the opposite and counter argues Will Kymlicka's work that argues for a limited restriction on cultural rights. Okin states that, "because societal cultures play so pervasive and fundamental a role in lives of members and because such cultures are threatened with extinction, minority cultures should be protected by special rights, that in essence, is the case for group rights." She believes that though some cultural practices are extreme and go against some of the values that we have grew so accustomed to today, so who are we to take that away from people. I can say from experience that if I was not allowed to practice my own culture, I would quickly loose this connection to my native land and this special connection i have with my own family. Even though my parents are from another country and I was born here, they came to American from Poland to make it a must that my brothers and I did not forget the culture and the language. We start taking away minorities rights to express their culture, which in turn would take away this melting pot that we have in America, subduing people to a certain norm.
Okin brings up a few controversies where the government has questioned whether to allow religious practices to continue. For example, in France during the 1980's there was a controversial discussion whether to allow Magrbin girls to wear traditional headscarves in public schools, questioning if it was proper attire to wear to school. these types of controversies even go on today, where people are harassed and ridiculed for practicing their religion and if not forced to stop practicing, they begin to abandon it in fear of getting hurt. Many public schools,though not specifically stating it, try to eliminate religious practices, many claiming its a violation of church in state. For example, this recent controversial debate that went to trial over biblical versus on school banners. With freedom of religion and freedom of speech, we should be allowed to exercises our religious rights and not have people try to stop it.
Another and important controversy Okin brought up was polygamy. In France during the 1980’s the French government permitted immigrant meant to bring multiple wives into the country. About 200,00 families were living in Paris as polygamist. This eventually led to overcrowded apartments and violence among wives and against each others children. Eventually the government recently only decided to recognize one wife and have the other marriages annulled. So what happens to the other wives and children? Though a dangerous thing to practice, where men have total control of the women and children showing a certain dominance in all their relationships, I think these minorities should have the right to practice polygamy without having to identify only one wife. Okin states that, “individuals need a culture of their own, it gives them self-esteem or self respect or decided whether this kind of life is good.” So who are we to try to take away a choice from somebody. We should allow these people to express their religious rights, even though it goes against gender equality and other factors, everyone like I stated before should have their right and freedom and choice to stay practicing their religion.
If we take away minorities culture and their rights to exercise them, then we are taking away a part of themselves. We are pushing them into forgetting their culture and not giving the opportunity to spread their culture and knowledge onto other people. By doing this people start forgetting their language, their native country and a chance to be themselves and exercise where and what they came from. According to Okin some proponents of groups rights argue that even cultures that “flout the rights of [their individual members] in a liberal society should be accorded group rights or privileges if their minority status endangers the cultured continues existence.” Like Okin, I agree with this statement because having your own culture and being able to practice it, allows you to stay true with who you are and give you the opportunity to spread this knowledge. Though there is some practices, like polygamy, that may be dangerous to other people, minorities should still have their right and their choice to practice it freely without any restraints.