Feminism Around the World

Different but the Same

Every country is different, and that is a plain fact. With these differences comes different people, and they may be different, but many of them have something in common because every country has feminists. They may not be active necessarily, and if they are lucky they don't have to be, but whether they actively protest or they simply believe in equality, they are feminists. The only difference is that they may have a different idea of what being a feminist means. 

Women are viewed differently in every country and by every person. One man may think his wife is equal to him in every way, but others (like DJ Khaled) might say they are superior or that their wife is supposed to respect him more. In India, for example, women can be treated differently when it comes to divorce or custody issues, and in Afghanistan women were denied the right to learn or work until around 1996. A lot of the “justification” for discrimination against women is based on religious reasons, which may be the link to why different countries and cultures view males versus females the way the do. Ultimately, this means that sexism is ingrained in society and isn’t so much a problem we can solve as much as it is a problem that we need to recognize.

It is so deeply ingrained in most societies this way because some of these places are simply outdated. This is because many centuries ago while the rights of man were being discussed (by men), this was around the seventeenth century. This means that the rights they came up with “were formulated with male household heads in mind” (Okin 34), making many of the stereotypes, irregularities, or discriminatory actions that still exist become ingrained in our history. We have been so deeply taught that men are superior, and we see it all throughout history so that even though the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and other declarations all proclaim that everyone is equal no matter their gender, in practice that just isn't true in many places. As many people point out, "the problem is that existing theories, compilations, and prioritizations of human rights have been constructed after a male model" (Okin 34). When we take women’s life experiences into account, these change significantly.

What we don't realize is that, while our goals may be the same because we, as feminists, believe every man and woman are equal, a lot of the long term and short term goals can vary. In the United States, we got the right to vote about a century ago. Now we are simply trying to reduce the wage gap and secure our right to birth control and such, as well as ridding the world of taboos and stereotypes so that we can feel freer and more comfortable without the restriction of society pressuring us to stay silent. In most places, women can vote as well, the only exception being Vatican City, but there are several places with problems bigger than not having birth control pills. In some places of India road safety regulations don't always apply to women. They can still follow road safety I suppose, but it isn't an issue if they don't and this shows exactly how much the country values them as people. In Yemen women do not count as an entire witness. Their testimony would only be considered as half a witness showing how little they value women's voices and input. In Ecuador, abortions are illegal unless you are mentally ill, which leads women to get unsafe abortions and in the process she can die. In Saudi Arabia and Morocco, the victims of rape can be charged and punished for leaving their house or being in the presence of a man alone, sometimes even being forced to marry their rapist. These are cultural differences though we may not realize it because in India one of the reasons people cite for not having to follow road regulations is that they would mess up their hair or makeup with a helmet, and in Morocco it's an old law that mandates the marriage of victim and perpetrator. 

Looking at these cultural differences is important in understanding the feminist message as a whole. Fighting for equality doesn't necessarily refer to only money, it refers to being thought of as a person with a mind and having the ability to control your own life with your basic rights protected. Feminism is for everyone and this is a universal truth because feminism applies to the man who likes wearing makeup whether for fun or to conceal under eye bags. It applies to the little girl who wants to play football and the little boy who wants to dance ballet. It applies to the woman who wants to be protected from her rapist rather than having to marry him or kill herself especially. Feminism is so much more than women being paid the same and being considered for the same jobs. Feminism simply means equality for all, and the reason that it is women mostly fighting for it is because women are constantly treated as less than human in many places and women, even in countries where everyone is supposed to be equal, still get paid less. They still get told who and what to be in order to fit society's views on who they should be and how they should act, and this needs to stop. That is the reason feminism exists, to try and reduce the discrimination and to start the conversations nobody else will. 


Okin, Susan Moller. “Feminism, Women's Human Rights, and Cultural Differences.” 

Amina Filali

Moroccan women protesting in her honor to prevent any future tragedies.

16 year old Amina Filali was raped in Morocco and because of an ancient law, it was decided by a court to have her marry her rapist. She couldn't do it and instead committed suicide. 

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