Take one look at Mic’s list of feminist triumphs for 2014 and you’ll get the feeling that most of us have over the course of this rather petty year: American feminism doesn’t know what to do with itself. Sure, it pays lip service to international women with its only PC figurehead, Malala Yousafzai, taking the list’s lead. And yes, the editors made sure to include a proportional number of women of color on the list, even if they included Ferguson protestors, leading one to ask why the feminist movement would want to associate itself with the kind of race riots we haven’t seen in this nation in nearly 50 years. But when your greatest triumphs include hashtag activism, conquering “manspreading,” and harassing Bill Cosby over decades-old alleged rape accusations, you illustrate how pathetic you’ve become.
A few of these so-called feminist triumphs were listed among the top feminist fiascos of 2014 in the L.A. Times, along with some real head-hanging, shame-filled moments stretching from #ShirtStorm to #BanBossy. One item on the list, however, strikes a sobering note: Rotherham. The complete lack of American feminist response to the sex trafficking of women in this British town for over two decades should be enough to shame feminists into pursuing a new direction in 2015. Feminism as a biblically grounded, non-sectarian movement for women’s independence can once again play a vital role in American and global culture, as long as its gaze is redirected from the navel to the critical issues facing women today.
In 2014, feminists believed the greatest threat to little girls was being called “pretty” or a “princess.” They and their daughters remain ignorant to the fact that girls in the West are treated like queens compared to girls in radical Islamic societies. Thirty million of those princesses face the threat of having most or all of their external genitalia forcibly cut off before age 15.
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and the horrors of sex slavery in the Islamic State and within Islamic culture can no longer be ignored. In order to effectively confront these horrific abuses of women, feminism as a movement must be willing to confront radical Islam. As FGM survivor Ayaan Hirsi Ali explains,
The connection between violence, particularly violence against women, and Islam is too clear to be ignored. We do no favors to students, faculty, nonbelievers and people of faith when we shut our eyes to this link, when we excuse rather than reflect.
Earlier this year, Turkish journalist Uzay Bulut explained precisely why women in Islamic countries need western feminist support, and how badly western feminists fail their sisters in the east:
To make a positive change in Muslim countries, we need to be able to speak openly and tell the (too-often criminalized) truth about what Islamic teachings and traditions actually contain. Yet in Muslim countries, it is impossible to speak openly about what is in these Islamic teachings and traditions, without putting one’s life at risk.
There is a situation even more frightening. It now seems to be difficult to speak openly about fundamentalist Islam even in Western countries, in part thanks to the dangerous enchantment of Western progressives and feminists who romanticize Islamism.
These women aren’t alone. In 2014 Britain voted to ban sex-selective abortion, a common population control practice in China. This along with other acts of gendercide are responsible for the loss of 200 million women per year, primarily from communist China and caste-based India wherein systematic discrimination against women has created a culture of neglect, abuse, sex trafficking and countless deaths.
To end child marriage, domestic abuse, and a whole host of other women-centric issues, feminists must first accurately address why so many girls do not have free access to a pluralistic education in the 21st century. Championing Malala Yousafzai is paying lip service to this real need experienced by millions of girls across the globe. Paula Kweskin explains:
Brutal attacks against girls in the name of extremist ideology are not limited to Pakistan. Just last year, over 200 Nigerian girls were kidnapped from their school by the radical Islamist group Boko Haram. The name of their terror group translates into “Western education is sin.” The group vehemently opposes girls’ education, believing in a version of sharia law that dictates women and girls should be wives and mothers without receiving an education. The group has systematically kidnapped and killed children and targeted schools in Nigeria as a way to promote their extremist ideology.
There is a difference between a girl in Guatemala, too poor to go to school, and another who is banned by an extremism ideology that sees girls as second class citizens. Malala’s global campaign should highlight these differences, in order to be effective in finding solutions.
Feminists must address the complexities of the female education issue, lest their voices be rendered as ineffective as Malala’s Nobel Prize winnings are in Gaza.
Feminism will need a strong moral and ethical platform in order to accurately address the many challenges posed by radical religious and political ideologies that threaten women’s lives. The goddess worship that empowers shameful, narcissistic behavior is ultimately corrupt, given over to evil and bent on failure, which is perhaps why radical movements are gaining female converts by the day. Today’s feminists must draw their inspiration from first wave leaders who were “Bible believing, slave-freeing, vote-wielding powerful women who worked as forces of nature fighting against female persecution.”
In turn, feminists must conquer pagan ideology at home as well as abroad. On this side of the globe we must begin by fully embracing our gender identity as women. This entails respecting and examining how that biological gift impacts our ability to provide our own unique, independent perspective to the challenges women face. Demanding equality is nothing less than insisting on a homogenization of the sexes. We have spent far too long dwelling on the idea of being just like men instead of embracing our freedom to be women. In order to be truly empowered, feminists must stop asking what they can do for sex and start demanding what sex can and does do for us.
Hashtags, college guys and scientists in bowling shirts aren’t our enemies. Pagan ideas that motivate and justify abuses and grotesque crimes against women make up the challenge we must face and conquer if we are to accomplish our timeless goal of securing true and lasting female independence.