WOW! It is week 6 and I continue to be shocked at the amount of new things I have learned. For this last post there are two things that I would like to focus on. First of all, I would like to focus on the US’ reaction to Afghan women after the 9/11 attack and two conflicting views on this topic, and then on the shocking mistreatment of women in a feminist company.
Two of the readings for this week addressed the 9/11 attack and the reaction of the US regarding the attack. It is really hard for me to word this but after reading a couple of the articles, it seems like the US has focused some of their time on a certain aspect of the afghan culture since the attack. The first article is titled “The Thong Vs. The Veil” by The Black Electorate. This article essentially talks about how the women in the US tuned their concern onto the Afghan women and their mistreatment. It says that “it was interesting to see women lament over the plight of Afghanistan’s women, women who now want the U.S. government to ensure that the rights of women are protected in the newly-constituted Afghanistan.”(1), showing that US women now were concerned for the Afghan women’s safety. According to the article the US “has a very selective memory when it comes to defending women’s rights.”(1). The article includes a transcript of an address that Congresswoman Juanita Millender McDonald gave. She points out that a while ago in 1997, the Afghan women were not treated as badly as they are now by the Taliban. They used to have equal rights and have many common jobs. It was only until the 1990s when the Taliban took over, that they lives of women in Afghanistan became restricted. She ends her address by stating that she believes “any future government of Afghanistan will not be sustainable unless all elements of Afghan society are included, especially its women“, stressing that the US needs to do something to help the women gain back the status that they used to have in Afghanistan.
Contrasting this previous point of view is the reading titled “Do Muslim Women Really Need Saving? Anthropological Reflections on Cultural Relativism and Its Others” by Lila Abu-Lughod. In this, she writes about how her opinion is completely different than the opinion of the article i referenced in the previous paragraph. Abu-Lughod believes that the Unites States is trying too hard to turn the Afghan women in to women similar to the women in the United States, instead of preserving their actual culture. The main issue is that the US wants to change the way the Afghan women live and dress, especially with the Hijab and Burqa. It is common for many people to think that Afghan women wear these clothing because they are too scared to do or wear anything else. The truth is that the majority of these women continue to wear this clothing because they choose to. She points out that “Taliban did not invent the burqa, It was the local form of covering that Pashtun women in one region wore when they went out” (Abu-Lughod,3), to show that the Burqa was around before the Taliban took over. She says that “Perhaps it is time to give up the Western obsession with the veil and focus on some serious issues with which feminists and others should indeed be concerned” (Abu-Lughod,4), explaining that “the West” continues to focus on “the veil” more than other more important issues. Her main goal is for the Afghan women to simply get help to live safe and equal lives, regardless of their how religion or their choice of clothing contrast those of “the West”.
The last article that I would like to address really has nothing to do with the other two I mentioned earlier. This blog post is titled “Women Making $70 Feminist Shirts in Factory Paid Under a Dollar an Hour”, by Dayna Evans. Apparently, there is a company with a factory in Mauritius making shirts that say “This is what a feminist looks like” on them. The problem is that the women working in the factory making the shirts are only getting paid a dollar an hour to make shirts that are being sold for about $70 each by a supposed feminist company. I was appalled when I read this article. How can this company claim to be feminist, while paying their own employees “a quarter of the average monthly salary in Mauritius” (Evans, 1). The company itself when asked about the allegations, simply stated that they would look into it. I hope that they actually did because these women do not deserve to be treated this way, especially by a company who claims to be feminist and support the equal rights of women.
I think that one of the most important conclusions that can be drawn is that feminism cannot be global. Every feminist is going to have differences in their views. You cannot make everyone be like who you want them to be or who you expect them to be, and change who they are, like what the Afghan women are going through.