‘See No Evil’ Has Become the Motto of Modern Feminism | Sarah Stook
When one thinks of feminism these days, they probably see what I like to call ‘suburban feminism.’ This group tend to be made up of white middle class women whose main grips are about being called ‘Karen’ and the so-called ‘gender pay gap.’ They’re the ones you see bussing down to Washington DC or any other major city for the annual ‘Women’s March,’ created after the inauguration of Donald Trump. With pussy hats, apparently creative signs and slogan t-shirts, they’re apparently a tour de force of feminism.
Except they’re not.
When you look at these feminists, you’re hardly looking at the most downtrodden of all women. They live in a free country, have the financial means to take a day off work to travel to the city (Inauguration Day is not a federal holiday) and contrary to popular belief, not victims of systematic oppression due to gender. Sure, there are some poorer women or ethnic minorities, but these seem to be the privileged speakers, such as Linda Sarsour.
If they’re sharing stuff via #ResistTwitter, it’ll be impeachment memes, stuff about the gender pay gap or accusations of sexism. That’s not to say their fight against sexual assault and harassment isn’t valid, in fact it’s essential to protect victims. It’s just the way they go about it.
What they share is dinner party stuff about the gender pay gap, gentle topics that aren’t really that relevant. They decline to talk about their sisters across the world, instead focusing upon issues that affect their daily lives. If you talk about feminism, they jump in as if they are the Speaker of All Womankind.
They complain about their country, yet they live in a nation where they do not face sexism in legislative form. Sure, it exists in society, but it is not so ingrained that it oppresses women as an entire group. If they lived in any number of countries, their right to protest about their situation would land them more than a few Twitter trolls.
Just recently, fundamentalist gunmen attacked a maternity hospital in Kabul. Roughly 24 people were killed, labouring mothers and newborns among them. Reports say these gunmen purposefully targeted women in labour, babies in cots and those who had just given birth. Afghanistan sees a lot of terrible attacks, but this has clearly shaken a broken country. The Taliban refuses to claim responsibility, as does Islamic State. Either way, it’s certain to be Islamic fundamentalists.
Apart from a few tweets, you don’t see the suburban feminist talking loudly about how men who claim to protect women are systematically murdering them. Now, there are two main reasons for this:
- It’s not happening in their suburban neighbourhoods, but to women halfway across the world whose names and lives they will never know. It’s more fashionable to put on a pussy hat and ignore sexual assault by politicians on their side of the fence.
- There seems to be somewhat of a cultural sensitivity. Cultural sensitivity should mean not being a giant racist, respecting others’ cultures and not targeting people for being different. Cultural sensitivity does not mean ignoring human rights violations when they are claimed to be tradition by a religious and minority group.
I’m not scared to say that the rights of women in many Muslim countries are downright dire. I’m not scared to say that fundamentalists of all religion, including Judaism and Christianity, are not the biggest advocates of gender rights. These women may be more inclined to talk about the religious right in the USA than the religious conservatives in Afghanistan. This fear that they will be erasing the voices of minorities leads to a complicit silence.
Whilst these women are saying that the USA/UK are sexist, the following are happening in other countries:
- 98% of girls, some still babes in arms, have their genitals brutally mutilated in the name of tradition (FGM has no basis in religion) in Somalia. FGM apparently prevents women from enjoying sex, being promiscuous and also apparently helps men enjoy the sex more. These holes are open for urination, menstruation and sex. The brutality of this could take up an entire article.
- 75% of brides in Chad are under 18, many under 15. They are victims of statutory rape, even if they consent to the marriage. Many of these girls will be abused or die in childbirth.
- In Iranian law, virgins cannot be executed. If an unmarried woman is charged with the death penalty, she will be ‘married’ to a member of the Revolutionary Guard, who will then take her virginity via rape.
- Several countries around the world allow rapists to be freed if they marry their victims, who often bow to it from familial and social pressure.
- It is mandatory under law in Iran and Saudi Arabia to cover up.
- Outdated virginity tests are performed in many countries. It is not medically possible to tell if someone is a virgin- they may not bleed after their first time, which is used as an indicator. It’s not only medically wrong, but extraordinarily degrading by reducing their value to their virginities.
It’s not pretty to talk about genital mutilation and hymen checks over a nice steak, but no one is forcing it to be dinner conversation.
Feminists, governments and organisations around the world are refusing to talk about the elephant in the room. It’s easier in government to make ads about the gender pay gap, whilst ignoring the human rights violations of its allies. Saudi Arabia only gets away with it because they are relatively pro-Western (out of fear of the fundamentalists who want to topple them), whilst Iran gets more hate simply because they’re not our friends.
To their credit, some in Parliament have talked about these issues. Sarah Champion is a fighter against child marriage. Matt Hancock has done some stellar work on FGM. The suburban feminists both home and abroad, are less likely to be this proactive however. Many in the conservative/ Conservative world see ‘feminist’ as a dirty word, which is okay. We should be fighting against the bitter oppression the fairer sex face across the world, because human rights are non-negotiable.
Unfortunately, ‘see no evil’ has become the motto of modern feminism.
Photo by Damon Lynch on Flickr.