The Lack of Intersectionality in Feminism
The word “intersectionality” refers to the interconnection of the ideas of race, class, and gender and how they overlap in the life of an individual or a section of society. When we add these ideas to feminism, it becomes truly inclusive and allows women of all races, economic standings, religions, identities, and orientations, a chance for their voices to be heard.
“We tend to talk about race inequality as separate from inequality based on gender, class, sexuality, or immigrant status. What’s often missing is how some people are subject to all of these, and the experience is not just the sum of its parts,” said Crenshaw.
Over time feminism has mainly focused on the problems experienced by white, middle-
class women, for example, studies in America show women earn 78 cents to that of a man’s dollar, but this is only true for a white woman; a black woman earns 64 cents to that of a man’s dollar and a Hispanic woman earns 56 cents. “White feminism” is a term that is used to describe a type of feminism that overshadows the struggles that women of color, LGBTQ women, and women of other minority groups face. It ignores intersectionality, and neglects to recognize the discrimination experienced by women from diverse backgrounds. “White Feminists' aren't specifically white feminists but people who are oblivious to the problems faced by other communities.
The Ironical Support
Western countries have always been discontent with the policies followed by the governments of Middle Eastern countries, and have often shed crocodile tears for the same. Ironically, in medieval times, the Christian polemicists attacked Islam for being too tolerant or permissive with the social conduct of women.
James Cafferty, host of CNN said, “They treat women like furniture in [Arab] countries. If I was a woman, I think I’d rather be in an American jail cell than I would be living with one of those whatever they are over there”. This comment is heavily racist, and although it was made in 2004, it shows a truly horrifying perception. Cafferty, while trying to portray that he stands against the oppression of Arab women, is merely stating an exaggerated and stereotyped image of Arab women in the western view. This is also a characteristic of western or white feminism, they protest for the rights of middle eastern women without knowing how this oppression translates in real life.
Kuwait granted women the right to vote as late as May 2005, while white women in America got theirs in 1920 and black women after much more struggle got the right to vote in 1965. This highlights the importance of taking into consideration intersectionality when referring to feminism. Since the return of the Taliban in Afghanistan, women aren’t allowed to go out in public without male protection, they have lost jobs, sports for them are deemed as unnecessary and now, their freedom to gain education too has been taken away from them.
All of this was predictable for the people of Afghanistan as they saw the Taliban return, but it still came as a shock when all of their hard work for their rights had gone to waste and they were back to square one. When the Taliban was ousted from power in 2001, the intervention by the U.S. and the UK had many schools and institutions open their doors to girls and women for education and job opportunities. There was progress towards equality: a new constitution in 2003 enshrined women's rights in it, and in 2009 Afghanistan adopted the Elimination of Violence Against Women (EVAW) law but now they are returning to as it was before the intervention.
Lack of Awareness
On March 23, 2022, the women of Afghanistan lost their right to progress. When they reached their schools early in the morning, they found the gates closed for them.
When asked if they knew that women their age have lost the right to gain education, people gave a confused nod rather than a concrete answer, which shows how the awareness regarding the problems of Arab women has been continuously declining. Social Media provided a platform for supporting them during the hijab protests and in the support of LGBTQ rights in Iran, people started introducing hashtags to follow, collecting money for them, addressing the government, and asking them to take some action against this discrimination but slowly and steadily these elements evaporated, and got replaced by silence once again.
Nevertheless, the Afghan Americans started their protests in front of the White House at the start of the new year, trying to incite a new beginning. Hikmat Sorosh, an Afghan American participating in the protest has allegedly said that the Taliban has systematically taken steps to prevent girls from education and hence, a voice.
The Afghan students in India are hopeless because all the degrees that they have earned here will be rendered useless if they go back to their country. Saeeda Dilyabi, 23, decided to move to India to pursue her Bachelor’s degree in computer application, and then apply for a good job upon returning home. “I had so many plans, but now I am hopeless." she said.
The situation of men in Afghanistan is also not that better, some of them have been blindsighted into thinking that whatever the Taliban is saying is true and are religiously following it, the others are either protesting or are too scared to do it.
What does the future hold?
The future of Afghan women’s rights seems precarious. Even after promising a modern approach, the Taliban continue to brutally harness the rights of women. There are reports of the Taliban going door to door looking for unmarried women between the ages of 14 and 45 to marry off to Taliban soldiers.
The United Nations and its partners, including national and international non-governmental organizations, are helping more than 25 million Afghans who depend on humanitarian aid to survive, and remain committed to staying and delivering. UN Women also remains fully committed to supporting women and girls in Afghanistan.
If the condition of the women in Afghanistan remains the same and the humanitarian situations worsen, the non-profit organizations fear that since services are already scarce, thousands of people have already been displaced by the Taliban offensive, the threat of hunger looms above the country. But defiance accompanies fear and uncertainties. Afghans, even after the threats of their lives, have continued to protest these laws and restrictions by going to work.
On an individual scale, there are a few ways to help the Afghani women: we can donate to various organizations like, International Rescue Committee(IRC), Choose Love foundation and Women for Women International. Spreading awareness also plays a vital role towards change.
Women of Afghanistan have always fought their wars alone and have come out stronger everytime, but now they are back to the battle again and need the power of recognition from the world to gain their rights and live the freedom they have always dreamt about. As Khaled Hosseini said in his prestigious novel, A Thousand Splendid Suns;
“One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs,
Or the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls.”