Feeling Small in the Wake of Political and Religious Misogyny
As a self-proclaimed and active feminist, I’ve been having a lot of complicated feelings lately. Let’s give them some context first.
Afghanistan: Erasure of Women
In August 2021, Afghanistan was once again taken over by the Taliban. From my cozy one bedroom apartment in Europe, surrounded by fluffy pink pillows and walls full of feminist art, I scrolled and scrolled. I watched harrowing videos on social media platforms of women reporting on what is happening. I saw footage of female journalists being ‘escorted’ out of studios in the middle of the news they were reading. I saw men painting over advertisements which featured women, a dreary act that erases the existence of women. I saw urgency in protests that ended in beatings. I saw videos of people cramming themselves in cargo holds of planes, knowing just hours after the fact that they must escape.
All of this unfolded incredibly quickly. It didn’t take weeks or months for girls to be taken out of schools, for women to lose their jobs and for activists to disappear — it took days. I remember feeling entirely overwhelmed. An inexplicable, crippling anxiety took over me. The feeling of helplessness was infuriating. I imagined being a young Afghani woman in that moment in time and my gut twisted with nausea.
Eventually, I calmed down and asked myself: what can I actually do, from here, that will be relevant? The situation in Afghanistan is incredibly complicated and helping from anywhere is an intricate thing. I did the only thing that seemed to make sense — I contacted my local NGOs working with refugees and inquired about the help I could offer. It seemed so small and pointless, but what else could I do?
Afghanistan a year later: the Ministry of Women’s Affairs has been abolished, women are not allowed to participate in political life, girls are allowed to go to school only up until the sixth grade, women must be fully covered in public and must not leave the house unless it is absolutely necessary — and that with a male chaperone. At the Gathering for National Unity, women are represented by males who are speaking on their behalf. It’s not only education, jobs…