Sunday, October 6, 2013
Hey There Malala
Sixteen year old Malala Yousafzai has become Taliban's prime killing target. Her courageously advocating women's education in war-laden Pakistan has left Taliban members shaken. Yousafzai was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman on October 9, 2012 which helped further secure Taliban's infamy whilst ameliorating her heroism. Young Yousafzai continues her advocating legacy after surviving the attack. She has been globally recognized as a women's right's activist and heroine since the shooting. This incident exposes the world to the existing grotesque reality of inequity, bigotry, and extreme sexist violence. What strikes a chord in me about this incident and any that mirror it is that in oppressive cultures with intense Islamic influences as Pakistan, women are sheltered for the sake of preserving "purity." Just to clarify, I do not by any means support the forms of oppression fundamentalist cultures promote, I just want to introduce a different perspective on a never-ending conundrum. Western culture, specially modern day western culture, is the emblem of "haram" to Islamic fundamentalists. Hegemonic western influence lets under-privileged people conceive that westerners are educated peoples. Islamic fundamentalists don't need media literacy to conceptualize western decadence. They see the image of women being prostituted in the media so they take all measures necessary to keep their sisters and mothers blind to its influence. I think western decadence has strengthened Islamic fundamentalism in underdeveloped parts of the world. So, when these guys (the Islamist bread-winners) take in that western hegemony seemingly promotes a culture rich with education yet one that overtly dehumanizes women (i.e. publishes magazine issues with a scantily clad Miley on its cover) the association makes them fear the road that possibly lies ahead of muslim sisters if they are handed the torch of education. I fear that Taliban and Islamists at large apprehend hegemonic legacy of education to bring with it an inevitable decadence – a decadence they can do without in a war-torn culture. Once again, I do not condone oppression. I am terribly moved by Yousafzai's experience and repulsed by Taliban's depraved nature – however, I hugely believe that in order to fully grasp ferocious actions, a research of history should be called into play. I also believe that western culture thrives on stories such as Yousafzai's. It strengthens the negative image we've been made to believe of the Middle East and more specifically of Taliban. How can a tremendously patriarchal culture like America's point fingers at the sexist crimes of other nations? Our soldiers over seas are infamous for raping docile Afghani women. The sexism prevalent in fundamentalist cultures is very clear and evidently ferocious, not indoctrinated. This makes it much easier to point it out. But the indoctrinated sexism honed in the hegemonic west displays the illusion of "freedom" by soliciting decadent images of women and promotes a counterculture in which a nation affluent with resources such as America is breeding stupid, scantily clad girls. I don't think America has politically earned the right to shame sexism anywhere despite how ferocious.
Posted by Halima Haider at 7:11 PM