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CROSS CULTURAL FEMINISM

Amina Mehtiyeva

In today’s world of globalization and the internet, one message can quickly reach millions of people. This gives us an incredible platform to shed light on our views and the injustices of this world. Many people have taken the initiative to spread their ideas of equality on issues they are passionate about. The idea of women being subordinated by men is widespread and rooted in cultural beliefs and traditions. Feminism in all its forms is a broad term for a range of political movements and ideologies. The main question is, how does one take action to stand against this global issue, considering the multiplicity of traditions and cultures around the world? How should the tension between the tolerance of cultural plurality and the universal demand for gender equality be balanced? 


People should adjust. The methods used to advocate and support the feminist cause in the U.S., for instance, will not be effective in Saudi Arabia. Culturally, Saudi Arabia has always been a conservative and a very religious country. To fully visualize the concept, I’d like to give an example of one of my friend’s personal experiences: at her primary-school in Saudi Arabia, girls were excluded from the swimming lessons, because their parents did not want to let their daughters stand half naked in front of their male classmates, due to their religious beliefs. This is a clear example where multiculturalism and feminism are opposing each other. 


The American author and liberal feminist Susan Moller Okin (1999) makes the provocative statement that most cultures are structured in a way that men are superior over women and therefore in conflict with the concept of feminism. A culture is a set of values, norms and beliefs, which aim to connect and combine the sum of individuals to a structured and somehow functioning society. Both elements of culture and feminism should come to a compromise, which is a very difficult task. We don’t see it in many countries around the world. 


Perhaps this issue is what we should aim to improve. Feminism is a broad term that includes multiple ideas, which we support. The integration of feminism with cultural norms is a large barrier many people face in their own countries. Different individuals may support the cause, but not know how to advocate for it in their specific environments. As a society, one of our primary goals should be to overcome this challenge, through creative and innovative ideas and take a step closer towards gender equality.

Source: Frieda Pauline Reitzer Tilburg University