You know how 1st world feminists get told that they don’t need feminism? They’re told that they should be glad they’re not “really oppressed” like the women in 3rd world countries. That things could always be worse.

You know what my mother tells me? She says I don’t need feminism because I should be glad I’m born in an urban city of Pakistan. She says, at least I wasn’t born in a rural area where girls are married off to men twice their age. That things could always be worse.

And our house maid, Shabana, who was married to her uncle at 15 and, at 18, has 2 children, she doesn’t even know what feminism is. She was told by her father that she should be glad her husband doesn’t beat her and hasn’t thrown tehzaab (acid) at her. That things could always be worse.

Am I the only one seeing a very disturbing pattern here?–Tumblr user Sharjeea

 

I’ve said it before: the most important thing about privilege is not whether you have it or not, but what you do with it. We’re not all oppressed the same way–from an intersectional perspective, some of us may hold privileges in one way even if we suffer in another way–but that does not mean the solution is to pat ourselves on the back for the meager privileges we hold in an unequal society.

The race to the bottom can get only more horrific, never ending as long as there is someone to crush. Oppression remains as long as society is unequal and unjust. If children in Africa are starving, it doesn’t make a dint of a difference that you have scraps to eat, unless you agree that the minimum morally acceptable action is to force a person to live on scraps.

Things are already “worse”. Focus on making them better.

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Objects in the Mirror

Cultural relativism goes both ways. For every person arguing “It’s their culture, we can’t speak up about it,” there’s a person from said culture who supposedly espouses certain values but insists, “It’s our culture, we can’t speak up about it…right now.” When will be a good time to speak up about oppression? When you no longer risk suffering any repercussions for it? Oh yeah, can’t fault that logic.

Not to name names but you’re all included in this–doctors who pride themselves on their professionalism while in the UK but think “informed consent” is too difficult a concept for the natives back home; gay rights activists who march in pride parades in New York but think it’s overkill to call out homophobic insults in Pakistani communities on the Internet; communists who publish pamphlet upon pamphlet about workers’ rights but refuse to pay promised salaries to the people who work for their own companies; feminists who travel all over Pakistan to work for the emancipation of women but also rape women and silence them with threats of stigma and legal action; you are all included in this.

Take a look in the mirror sometime. Integrity: you’re doing it wrong.