A crucial, inclusive, and revolutionary lens Rafia Zakaria's book addresses the several gaps left unaddressed by the movement in response to white feminism


A crucial, inclusive, and revolutionary lens Rafia Zakaria's book addresses the several gaps left unaddressed by the movement in response to white feminism

Universality is a complex idea and a precarious slope, especially when systems are in place that upholds the very status quo that must be overthrown. Despite its scientific, research-based approach, author Rafia Zakaria writes "Against White Feminism: Notes on Disruption" in a style that does not hold back, creating a two-fold layer of knowledge around the same.

First and foremost, Zakaria emphasizes the importance of cultural contextualization of global movements like feminism, emphasizing the necessity for inclusion not only on the terms of the movement's self-declared public faces but also on the terms of everyone the movement hopes to influence. Second, she speaks directly to discuss how white feminism lacks a larger, long-term vision and objective and is not just exclusive but also theatrical in many ways.

Talking about feminism in Pakistan frequently resembles asking an ardent Harry Potter fan to suddenly start worshipping Voldemort. The fundamental principles of feminism, which are sometimes misinterpreted and inaccurately portrayed, call for equality for all and the abolition of the mainstays of the patriarchal institutions that are mainly in place. The name may be new in Pakistan, but the battle has existed for a very long time. It was particularly prominent under General Zia-ul-rule, Haq's when activists came to the streets, endured beatings, and raised their voices against the myriad injustices that still afflict the country today.

However, when feminism is debated locally, it is dismissed as a malevolent Western plot designed to undermine our culture. In general, these arguments have little substance because the concept of Pakistani culture is nebulous, tarnished by its colonial past, and tinted by religious views. But Zakaria provides advice in her book on how to deal with these accusations by employing the salient features of feminism in a Pakistani context.

The concept of female liberation in a white feminist context—the creation of the "Cosmo Girl," as Zakaria puts it—is a fantastic illustration of the same. The "Cosmo Girl" embraces numerous ideals that might even send shivers of shock down the spine of a traditional Western society that is just beginning to embrace the concept of empowerment. Given that morality is a matter of opinion and not the topic at hand, these values are not necessarily "bad."

Zakaria, however, contends that feminism is a political, not a commercial, movement and that much of mainstream liberation aims to fan the flames of capitalism to create a target market of buyers to whom feminism can be sold. The problem arises from the selling of a struggle, which appeals to a specific demographic of women by branding feminism as an appealing product rather than understanding it as a lived experience. While this promoted feminism is digestible, "fun," and simple to gain cash from, it cannot, and should not, serve as a universal framework in emerging, colonized, or politico-religious systems. In doing so, inclusivity and the better politics of feminism take a back seat.

Thus, the absence of intersectionality in white feminism raises a clear warning sign, as feminists of color are frequently used as pawns to advance the same white-feminist cause without taking into account any other viewpoints or background. 'Poor, destitute, downtrodden' women lower on the constructed hierarchy must be saved, but only on the terms of white feminists who have little to no understanding of their plight and offer misguided, frequently insulting solutions from a detached and classist lens. This white feminism leads to an alarming savior complex.

Zakaria also draws attention to the fact that white feminism does not have a female-focused end in sight. She makes the point that white feminism's pinnacle embodies traits that are typically associated with men. Adopting "masculine" characteristics like violence to "be the man" in one's positionality is seen as a problem in and of itself because it contributes to the idea of patriarchy and attracts women to the very system they are trying to overthrow. The path to becoming a "girl boss" also serves as an initiation, during which undesirable masculine traits are put on and feminine traits are let go. Thus, individuals who represent white feminism are divided along racial and class lines and those who do not agree with its manifesto, making it harder for the latter to advance.

The book opens with a story that Zakaria talks about herself dining out with her white pals. The discourse makes her feel uncomfortable—left out, unheard, invisible, and unimportant—and puts the burden on her to bring it up. As a result, she must endure the stigma of being the "killjoy" in a social setting that is otherwise "friendly." The author then goes on to succinctly show throughout her book how if a table that boasts of solidarity does not include a seat for you, it must be toppled immediately and everyone there must move to a larger table that seats everyone equally.

The most admirable aspect of "Against White Feminism" is its outspoken opposition to colonialism and colonial standards, which ironically control and restrain movements whose primary goal is liberation. In addition to highlighting racial privilege, Zakaria fosters essential conversation about the idea that feminism is not a catch-all concept that can be applied to any situation. It is certainly unsettling, disruptive, and highly intersectional.

Previous Post Next Post