Feminism is just a western concept

The feminist mainstream in the West has a problem

I recently read Dear Ijeawele: How our daughters become self-determined women by the Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and the little book impressed me. A friend asked Adichie for advice: "How do I raise my daughter to be a feminist?" Adichie brought this question to tears. She made a manifesto out of her answer and formulated 15 suggestions. Feminism, that is, resistance to the “rule of the fathers” and fighting for a just society, are always contextual, she says, so there are no simple rules. But there are premises, and the first is: “I am important, I am just as important - I matter, I matter equally”.

Western countries have always been good at justifying the invasion and exploitation of other countries with the supposed export of women's rights. It was not uncommon for local elites to help them with their terrible project. Afghanistan is just one of many catastrophic examples. It is obvious that very few advocates of western invasions in the name of women's rights have ever advocated equality in their own country or, as Kharmanda puts it: "The struggle of women was sacrificed whenever it was necessary." formally achieved equality is peddling, feminist criticism of gendered injustice is also more than unpopular "in the West", for example in Germany.

Angela Merkel recently struggled for composure when a journalist in front of the camera wanted to know whether she was also a feminist. She prefers not to adorn herself with foreign feathers, stammered the German Chancellor, while Ivanka Trump, who was also interviewed, came out as a feminist after a brief hesitation. Which is worse - a stupid chancellor who shies away from the pressure of the anti-feminist party she has led for over 18 years, or the open mendacity of one of the best-known representatives of white Suprematism? Be that as it may: Feminism as a systematic criticism of rule is not supported by influential politicians or other elites "in the West". This makes solidarity and the exchange of knowledge among feminists worldwide all the more important, even if the struggles differ locally and regionally. But again there is this problem.

Too often the man-versus-woman principle is cited as the only decisive axis of power. But that does not go far enough.

Not only decision-makers in the countries of the former colonial powers - by the way, Germany also had colonies and is responsible for the genocide of the Herero and Nama in Namibia - even white feminism is still often reluctant to decolonize. Too often the man-versus-woman principle is cited as the only decisive axis of power. But that does not go far enough. Skin color, education or financial background have a major influence on the role that gender plays in the respective social status. Although it is obvious that we always have to deal with multiple discrimination and that privileges and sexist degradation must be analyzed in combination, many white feminists in Germany overlook the racist principle that regulates our everyday life. Our looking away is not innocent. A serious confrontation with racism in its historical and current form can therefore still be found especially among black feminists and feminists of color.

The American law professor Kimberlé Crenshaw began 30 years ago to make black women in particular visible in their political struggles. Not only did she shape the concept of intersectionality, she also sued General Motors. The company hired blacks and white Workers one and white Women in administration. However, he did not want to employ black women. She advised the legal team of Anita Hill, the first African American woman to sued her boss in 1991 for sexual assault. Clarence Thomas later rose to become a Supreme Court Justice and accused Hill of “high-tech lynching”. Anita Hill turns against him at a time when blacks have to stick together. So it is not he who hurts the black community, but the one who defends itself against sexual violence. A prime example of the popular debt reversal strategy. But there is no racism against as "White“Read people. Hill and Crenshaw lost the case, but not the fight for inclusive feminist thought and action. Today, Crenshaw, along with Adichi, is one of the most widely read and listened to feminists at all.

It is time to say goodbye to the idea that there is “the West” or “Western feminism”.

Nevertheless, sexual violence remains largely unpunished, especially when it comes from powerful, white men. The most recent example of this was given in the Brett Kauvanaugh case, who was appointed to the Supreme Court by Donald Trump late last year - despite numerous statements from women accusing him of sexual violence. To this day, Crenshaw wrote in the NY Times, "we cannot see the real tragedy of 1991: the false conflict between feminism and anti-racist movements.

As long as we white, feminists socialized in the west cannot qualify us anti-racially and thus overcome our colonial legacy, feminists with other experiences of discrimination have little reason to show solidarity with us or to exchange ideas. At the same time, it is time to say goodbye to the idea that there is “the West” or “Western feminism”. In every country there are different feminist currents, which are often at odds with one another. No country is inherently without contradiction. In Germany, for example, intersectional feminism is just gaining strength, although unfortunately this also applies and even more so to the reactionary forces in the country.

Seehofer shows how closely the contempt for people from other cultures is linked to the contempt for “local” women.

Let us take a little detour to the German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer: Compared to Donald Trump or Brett Kavanaugh, he is of course a little light, but he also basks in the patriarchal violence he emanates, specifically with deportations to Afghanistan. A young man has already been driven to suicide in this way. Seehofer shows how closely the contempt for people from other cultures is linked to the contempt for “local” women. In the home ministry, which he recently founded based on the American model, he does not employ a single woman at the decision-making level; only white, German men around 50 have the say. When the picture of the Seehofer team made the rounds, the ridicule was great. The fact that there was also no man with a so-called migration background remained rather uncommented. The minister had the photo of the white group of gentlemen removed from the website. Nothing more happened.

This farce from Berlin also shows that racism and sexism cannot be separated and can only be overcome together. Feminism is not western. If it's good for something, it's intersectional. The sooner we understand that, the better.

This article was published by FANN Magazin as part of the German-Arab debate series. This German-Arab debate series is funded by the Gunda Werner Institute for Feminism and Gender Democracy. Ines Kappert answers an article by Walaa Kharmanda, which you can read here in the German translation by Hannah Al-Hitami.