Modern Woman

Tashfeen Malik Murderer

In the west, a “modern woman” holds down a job and hires a nanny or some other babysitter to watch her children while she works. The traditional woman, on the other hand, is content to stay at home and take care of her children while her husband earns all the families money. While there is a subset of women that are extremely proud of their status as a “modern woman,” most often the rising cost of living in the modern world makes it a necessity for women to give up their traditional lifestyle and enter the workforce. Therefore, the “traditional woman,” who can focus her life on raising her children, is held up as the example of what every woman should strive for.


Tashfeen Malik, the female shooter involved in the murder of 14 people in San Bernardino California on December 4, 2015, was described as a “modern woman” by her family in Pakistan. However, the difference between the “modern” and “traditional woman” in Pakistan is somewhat different than it is in the west. According to her family, Tashfeen reverted to being a “traditional woman” when she was radicalized in college. So if the beliefs of Tashfeen’s family are held in common with the rest of the moderate Muslim world (which they likely are because beliefs are informed by the culture that one is surrounded by), the “modern” moderate Muslim does not hold the radical beliefs that all non-Muslims must be killed mostly because of the pressures of living in the modern world, but the “traditional” radicalized Muslim is the one to applauded and held up as the true Muslim who is working for the best interest of the Muslim religion.


Of course, there are some major problems with the logic I have used to come to this conclusion. The response from Tashfeem’s family likely came through an interpreter, so the choice to use the word “modern” could have been a miscalculation on the part of the translator. Also, to say that the only option other than a “modern” woman is a “traditional” woman is a false dichotomy, and to say that the inaccurate link between modern and traditional woman also follows through to a link between modern and traditional Muslim is also an example of false logic. But the problem with false logic is that it feels like good logic. A strong conclusion made through false logic has the tendency to change people’s minds and allows them to think in dangerous and unpalatable ways.


Religions, all religions, are a wellspring of false logic and can lead otherwise thoughtful people to act without rational thought. This effect is especially strong when one is constantly surrounded by orthodox versions of whatever faith. This is not to say that religion is bad, or wrong, or evil, but following through with actions prescribed by religion are bad, wrong and evil especially when the actions prescribed are the murder of 14 people celebrating an office Christmas party.