Image by StockSnap
Feminism is having an identity crisis. Here we have a movement, in the current year and all, which claims to be about the equality and equity of the sexes, and purports to be following the dictionary definition to a tee. This the furthest from the truth.
Day after day, we hear more and more stories about the “complex” issues intersectional feminists (the technical term for “third-wave”) are struggling to fight against. There’s the wage gap. The pink tax. Targeted harassment of “women and minorities” online. Mantalking. Allies not staying in their lanes. Misogynist air conditioners. Female video game characters having butts. Firing people over immature Tweets they made a decade ago. Alt-right Russian Trumpbot incels literally destroying everything suffragettes (Ew! Not those gross folks. They were too white!) and feminists ever fought for.
While some of these issues may seem important (such as the pay gap, which has been debunked, at least in most Western nations), and a tiny minority actually are important (Hollywood’s rape problem, being the most reported), the sheer majority are so useless and trivial that you begin to wonder if intersectional feminists actually have hobbies. Or a life. Maybe they should take off their feminist lens for a second.
Or maybe they could have a look at their less fortunate, “privileged” counterparts. The women I am going to tell you about are heroic women, sacrificing their livelihoods and even lives for the sake of being treated just like men. Some are not fighting against women’s inequality, but inequality in general. Many are living in the actual Handmaid’s Tale, not just the fantasy one @VerifiedFeminist999 has romanticized she is living in while under the evil little hands of Trump’s America. Maybe we should be focusing more of our time—not on outrage social media moaners—but instead activists like…
Born in a remote village in northern Iran, activist and journalist Masoumeh “Masih” Alinejad is a woman to idolize. After being arrested as a teenager for producing political pamphlets with her friends, Alinejad rose to power as a political journalist until she was forced to escape Iran for the United Kingdom after a series of incidents that began after she compared then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a dolphin. Once in the United Kingdom, and later, New York, she dialed up on anti compulsory hijab activism. In 2014, she began My Stealthy Freedom, a Facebook page that encourages women to stealthily share photos of themselves without a hijab. To this day, Alinejad still fights for the rights of women in Iran; the right to choose whether or not to wear hijab, and to be treated as an actual human being. In May, Alinejad released her memoir The Wind in my Hair, which is an emotional, inspirational read and will make you realize how relatively easy it is to be a woman in the West.
Daphne Caruana Galizia
Daphne Caruana Galizia was a Maltese journalist investigating the notorious Panama Papers when she was killed after a car bomb exploded. She had a blog, Running Commentary, where she wrote critically of Maltese politicians and European political situation in general, this “one-woman Wikileaks” was fighting against corruption in an overly corrupt world. And what is her legacy? For the Panama Papers to have been wiped out of the public’s memory. Sigh.
al-Huwaider is a Saudi Arabian women’s rights activist who gained prominence after being arrested for holding a sign stating “Give women their rights”. For this simple act of defiance, al-Huwaider was forced to sign a statement indicating she would not promote human rights, and then briefly banned from leaving Saudi Arabia. She was also charged with kidnapping for attempting to help a Canadian woman escape her abusive husband by taking her to the Canadian embassy in Riyadh. In a country where women only recently were legally allowed the right to drive, Wajeha al-Huwaider is an incredibly brave woman and should be considered similarly to Rosa Parks: a national hero. Instead, she has been ostracized by her country.
Narges Hosseini, Vida Movahed, and the Girls of Revolution Street
Narges Hosseini is one of the many Girls of Revolution Street; women in Iran who protest compulsory hijab laws. Hosseini’s photograph is striking: on January 29, 2018,she stood on a bench while holding her white headscarf like a flag on Revolution Street in Iran. For this simple act of protest, Hosseini was arrested and could face ten years in prison for violating prostitution laws. She was inspired by the act of Vida Movahed, who in December 2017 protested the hijab laws by holding out her hijab on a sidewalk. Many of these simple acts of protest have been documented by My Stealthy Freedom and other Iranian human rights organizations, and have alerted the rest of the free world to the heroism of these women.
According to Article 639 of Iran’s Islamic Penal Code, “The following individuals shall be sentenced to one year to 10 years’ imprisonment… A – Anyone who establishes or directs a place of immorality or prostitution. B – Anyone who facilitates or encourages people to commit immorality or prostitution.”
This laws sounds reminiscent of the views held by many Western feminists, such as Anita Sarkeesian, who believe a woman’s figure invokes “male gaze” and should be covered up, and that women from these theocratic Muslim-majority nations actually choose to wear hijab… It’s a little concerning when some Western feminists sound more like the oppressors of countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia than they do actual activists.
Ifrah Ahmed is a Somalian victim of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Growing up in a refugee camp near Mogadishu, Ahmed and her fellow Somalians were terrorized by militant terrorist group Al-Shabaab. One day, after witnessing her sister getting raped by the terrorists, Ahmed escaped to Ireland, where she discovered she was a victim of FGM, something she had just thought was commonplace. Nowadays, Ahmed is back in Somalia, as an advisor for gender issues to the Somalian Prime Minister in a post-Civil War nation, keeping up the fight against the horrific brutality that is FGM.
Yousafszai is likely the most notable activist on this list. In 2012, a 15 year old Yousafszai was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman in retaliation for her activism to do with improving life in Pakistan and girls’ education rights. Surviving the event, Yousafzai moved to the United Kingdom and became a prominent activist for the right to education, and is still an inspiration to this day.
No doubt there are many more women around the world, fighting their own battles and struggles, unnamed and in countries that are only too willing to see them suffer. Human rights is an important issue, and it is usually overlooked in favor of intersectional feminists facing trivial and pathetic problems that only seem to exist because these feminists have created the issues out of their own frothing outrage. If one can only associate “feminism” with these whiny outraged Twitter crybullies, then is it any wonder that feminism has lost its appeal?
Return to feminism’s original purpose: helping those who are actually trying to fix their own oppression and injustice. Not petty trivialities.