If I hear yet another White Western male pointing out the atrocities committed against women by men of other races and religions , in order to unsubtly imply that women of the west have “never had it so good”, and should be grateful for the small gains feminists have made, I think I might scream.
or another western-slanted media clip on the Plight of Afghani women. [I’ll get back to this in a moment]
or see yet another book written by a privileged person decrying barbarism abroad while simultaneously ignoring the systematic atrocities committed against women on his own doorstep–entrenched in law and upheld by the courts. Such as: porn, legal FGM and the mutilation of women’s breasts (otherwise known as labioplasty and cosmetic surgery) by men posing as ‘doctors’ , unsentenced rape, and murder.
Every time I hear “Be thankful you’re not a woman in South Africa” I don’t then think “Ooh, at least I’m not a woman in South Africa.” I think, “You, sir, are a racist”
Read my lips:
Women don’t need campaigns led by the privileged class. They need political and economic parity with men.They need tangible power , an international political platform from which they are able to work alongside female politicians in developing countries in order to improve the lot of women.
Barging overseas all guns blazing, on the cusp of a rich man’s book deal smacks of cultural imperialism.
Tidy up your own backyard first before pointing the finger at your neighbour’s. But do remember that political quotas and real power for women would mean there could be no more heroes…
[BTW, don’t try this at home. Sometimes when books written by powerful people are criticized, the authors sue. Remember: Freedom of speech only exists when it comes to defending porn]
Now, I’ve got plenty of bones to pick with the way women around the world are treated by the various patriarchies, but there is something about a white guy reeking of “holier than thou” that really upsets my stomach. Don’t use the women’s movement to levy your racism; your self-righteousness has got nothing to do with women and everything to do with your ethno-centric superiority complex.
I would also like to point out that every country in the developing world has a group of women who are aware of the issues and are fighting for the cause at the grassroots level. Join them, by all means, but do not try to direct them. As we all [well most of us] know: if social change is to have any legitimacy at all it must come from the grassroots (see the Afghanistan fuck up for a living example).
A Brief History of the Anglo-Taliban Friendship [or an example of how all men fuck all women over]
There’s nothing like a good re-writing of history to keep people divided and at each other’s throats.The old Divide and Rule, which led to the success of British colonial Imperialism.
And boy does this tactic work when it comes to women. Keeping our fury focused outside our national borders diverts attention away from the fact that we women of the west still do not have enough power to stop the war-mongering of our own patriarchies.
Ten years ago I was exactly twenty years old. I’d heard of the Taliban. I knew they were woman-haters, fundamentalists, and that Afghan women suffered a terrible oppression.
But pieces of the jigsaw puzzle didn’t fit.
I also knew that Saudi Arabian women suffered horrendous oppression, and yet western governments maintained a firm friendship with the Saudis. What I did not yet understand was that women were not regarded as people when it came to the bottom line. I did not yet realize that the men of my own country, and those of the US, were happy to trade with oppressors as long as the oppressed in question were women. Women are fair game.
I do remember the exact moment when all the pieces fit into place. It was when I opened a magazine with an article entitled “History in Pictures” and came accross a sepia snap of a middle-aged white guy in a suit, obviously someone important, laughing and chatting to a swarthy looking man in a funny hat. My Iranian friend sitting beside me pointed and said in surprise “Oh, that’s the Taliban”
Underneath the caption read: “Donald Rumsfeld with an Afghan Freedom Fighter.(1984)”
I can’t find that picture online, but imagine one similar to this plus a cheery white guy:It turns out, you see, that the US vehemently supported the Mujahideen Islamic Fundamentalists aka the Taliban. The Reagan administration poured a lot of financial resources into bolstering the men in funny hats, who otherwise may have disappeared into historical obscurity. The US was donating half a billion dollars a year to the Taliban, who at the time were conducting terrorist acts against the Afghan government.
A professor of mine once told me that if you can explain something in a simple way it means you’ve understood it well. So here goes:
If there’s one thing the west hates it’s comm’nists. At the time, the Afghan government was run by Socialists and supported by the Soviet Union, and this we could not have.
There were may different factions of Mujahideen but thanks to massive US financial support the Taliban came out on top.
And get this: The socialist government in Afghanistan at the time were VERY pro-woman:
“Ratebzad wrote the famous May 28, 1978 New Kabul Times editorial, which declared: “Privileges which women, by right, must have are equal education, job security, health services, and free time to rear a healthy generation for building the future of the country … Educating and enlightening women is now the subject of close government attention.”
Does everyone understand the implications of this?
If it hadn’t been for the US, the Taliban would not have gained the power it did. The oppression of women in Afghanistan, it can be said, lies in the hands of the Western powers. Without our interference it is likely that Afghan women would have liberated themselves.
Fast forward to 2001, when the US and the UK (which, I’m embarrassed to remind you, was led by Bush’s Poodle, Tony Blair) invaded Afghanistan. The Western media relentlessly made much of the Plight of Afghan Women as a justification for invasion. I would watch BBC and CNN news items with my jaw dropped at the sheer hypocrisy of what was being said. Western men were going to rescue Afghan women and free them from oppression by invading their country???? I didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry.
So you see, it’s never ever about women
The US “War on terrorism” removed the Taliban regime in October 2001, but it has not removed religious fundamentalism which is the main cause of all our miseries. In fact, by reinstalling the warlords in power in Afghanistan, the US administration is replacing one fundamentalist regime with another. The US government and Mr.Karzai mostly rely on Northern Alliance criminal leaders who are as brutal and misogynist as the Taliban.”
What I have attempted to do with this post is show Western women that Western men would fuck us over in a heartbeat the way they fuck women the world over every year. So do not buy into the patriarchal lies that a war in our name has anything to do with liberating oppressed foreign women. If you ever do believe this you are a dupe, and a handmaiden of the patriarchy no less.
Afghani women are stronger than any of us can ever hope to be and they will bring on their own revolution. To think we can do it for them displays a profound ignorance of women’s strength. Support them, donate to RAWA, take instructions from them, but do not try to lead them.
Watch Malalai Joya’s brave and historical speech, where she stands up to the warlords and tells them they are all criminals. See her being heckled as they call her “prostitute” before the guards are ordered to throw her out. Later, a mob gathered where she was staying and threatened to rape and kill her. She lives undercover in constant threat of her life. But she still spoke out. Look into her eyes and know she has nothing to lose, having lost everything already.