In this paper I suggest that Muslim women’s emotional and affective relation to ‘culture’, ‘honor’ and Islam, often evident in transgressive acts but also attributed to them to serve other interests, becomes elided in feminist rhetorical and discursive struggles over the interrelationship between colonialism, Islam, gender and culture in existing scholarship on ‘the honor crime.’ As a Pakistani–Canadian Muslim woman, I draw from experiences in my own classes to reflect on young Muslim women’s emotional responses to cultural and honor-related regulation. Conceptualizing Canada and Pakistan as culturally, politically and affectively entangled transnational sites, I consider a strategy to validate the emotions of my students in Toronto by describing, sharing and theorizing the story of young Pakistani Muslim women’s disruptive acts, as demonstrated in Aurat (Women’s) March. I draw on Sarah Ahmed’s concept of willfulness as one possible strategy for young Muslim women to understand their own – and other Muslim women’s – transgressive desires, emotions and acts, which may run counter to identitarian constructs of Muslim/Western, Islamic/unIslamic, good/bad women. In doing so, this paper draws upon, but also diverges from, postcolonial and critical feminist approaches that have responded variously to the dilemma of confronting honor-related violence against Muslim women, which is (always) intersected by colonialism, racism and imperialism.
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