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First world feminism: Not a peep on foreign abuses of women

Iranian women covering their faces with green niqabs in Noushabad, south of the capital Tehran, Iran, December 17, 2010. Credit: AP

 Credit: AP

Whether feminists in America agree or not, life is pretty good for women in the United States. We have the right to vote, the power to negotiate our salaries, run for office, become lawyers, doctors, artists, astronauts — anything. We can choose to chase a career path of our choice, or to be mothers, or both.

In the words of Beyoncé, women are “strong enough to bear the children, then get back to business.” We’re a force to be reckoned with. It is important, however, to remember that not all women around the world are afforded the same opportunities, privileges, or even the basic human rights that women in America enjoy.

Over the weekend, Saudi Arabia posed what seemed to be a small albeit positive step forward in the realm of women’s rights. The governor of the Qassim province announce a “girls council” to discuss more opportunities for women in a country that otherwise has one of the worst track records in the world as it relates to the treatment of women.

Unsurprisingly, the first meeting of the girls council was a colossal disappointment, featuring 13 men on stage and not a single woman. Too good to be true, naturally. The closest thing to interaction that Saudi women were afforded was a screen in a separate room where they could listen to the men talk about what they thought were “women’s issues” and how they intended to address them.

Sorry America, but this is the epitome of “mansplaining.”

As a feminist, I decided to see what so-called champions for women were saying about such a dizzying display of sexism. Lena Dunham? No tweets. Hillary Clinton? Silent. Jessica Valenti? Nothing. Sarah Silverman? Nada. Cecile Richards? Not a peep.

Today, the liberal feminist movement is more concerned with the backlash of moral outrage as opposed to tackling issues affecting women internationally. Society has become so obsessed with avoiding any semblance of offense rhetoric that many leaders remain silent on issues affecting women abroad. Are we so preoccupied with not offending other cultures that we refuse to stand up for women and girls who are truly treated like second class citizens? Women who are not allowed to have a job or drive a car? Girls who are denied an education? This paints a much larger picture of the flaws of modern feminism.

How privileged are we to live in a country where women do not have to live with the constant fear of honor killings, acid attacks, and further brutalization? It is honestly quiet laughable when you compare the demands of women on the American Left today to the basic rights so desired by women in Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Indonesia, Iran, Nigeria, Palestine and so many more countries. At Women’s March on Washington, I saw many posters demanding free birth control, abortion on demand, and tampons for all — all while women in developing nations cannot even leave their homes without an escort.

This is literally the definition of “first world problems.”

It’s appalling many of the women society tells us are supposed to be our role models choose when and where they want to promote the rights of women. Instead of using their platforms to raise awareness for human rights abuses, they flock to social media to continually dispute election results or promote their latest projects. I implore these women and all others to fight for rights for all women — not just women who look like you, women who agree with you, or women who are facing issues that fall within your comfort zone.

Do better, because women deserve better.


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