When she described her work, her manner changed. She became animated, almost passionate, having been subdued before. Though her work was only in a clerical capacity (she had been promoted once or twice), she spoke of it with love. It was her daily release from prison, the only time she was allowed out; it was her window on the world; it was the entirety of her social life; it was air after suffocation.
It occurred to me that if I were an employer, I would want otherwise oppressed Muslim women to work for me. An attitude toward work such as theirs is not common, at least not in Britain. For them, work represents freedom and happiness, not drudgery and exploitation.
But the attitude of her brothers—born, after all, in Britain—stuck in my mind. They were integrated enough to want Westernized lives for themselves but not integrated enough to want such lives for their sisters. It is not difficult to see the reasons for this. But where are our feminists, fearlessly fighting for speech codes and the use of the impersonal she in academic books, when women such as this suffer such severe oppression? Hardly a peep is heard from them.