– fordi tiden kræver et MODSPIL

26. Sep 2007

Er kvindefrigørelse et rent 'vestligt' fænomen?

Nej, mener Priyamvada Gopal, der tager bladet fra munden i en kommentar i The Guardian:
Women from non-western cultures have long mounted their own challenges to subjection, long before John Stuart Mill denounced the "legal subordination of one sex to the other". In India, women learned self-assertion from medieval female Hindu poets like Tarabai Shinde, who in 1882 wrote a stinging denunciation of male double standards. Early 20th century Muslim women writers attacked a range of injustices including seclusion, lack of reproductive choice, and illiteracy. They taught western feminism that women's subjection could not be viewed in isolation from race and class oppression, and that nowhere has there been consensus that denying women access to education, work, health and dignity is an expression of culture.

The talismanic invocation of women's equality as the key difference between "us" and "them" is worrying. Apart from the simple hypocrisy of people whose own societies have yet to fully address gender, race and class inequalities, there is a long, dismal history of using the subjection of women to justify cultural condescension and colonial occupation.

Gender inequality is no more inherent to non-western cultures than to European cultures, notwithstanding scriptures and clerics. Like all cultural practices, it is a historical phenomenon subject to human intervention and transformation. Western cultures do not have a monopoly on change. Suggesting that other cultures are inherently and immutably sexist on the basis of select practices and ideologies is no different from claiming that western culture or Christianity is inherently racist because of colonialism or apartheid. Oddly, the same people who defensively insist that racism must be understood in its historical context cannot extend that analysis to gender inequality elsewhere.
Hvilket vi alt sammen gør klogt i at skrive os bag øret til næste gang vi hører Karen Jespersen og andre chauvinister tale om de forfærdeligt kvindeundertrykkende "fremmede kulturer": Ved at insistere på, at feminisme eller kvindefrigørelse er et rent vestligt eller moderne fænomen (hvad det, som det fremgår, ikke er) støtter man i virkeligheden selvsamme kulturers mest reaktionære og patriarkalske eksponenter.

Og så er det, som Gopal også konkluderer, en hån mod de kvinder verden over, der reagerer mod ulighed og undertrykkelse: "Claiming sole western ownership of the concept of women's equality steals from such women their struggles, their victories and, ultimately, their dignity".