While at lunch with coworkers last week a discussion came up of women's rights in India. I think the discussion cropped up because I was talking about the cultural "India Invasion" (much like the British invasion of the 60s) that is beginning to gather strength in the states. My friend said something to the effect of "that [cultural influence] may be, but women in India are still treated very poorly". I always have to throw a wrench into a discussion with that kind of statement. I do so for a few reasons:
-I am compelled to disavow any statements that blanket a culture. Especially if the speaker does not live in, or have frequent, deep interactions with, the culture she speaks of.
-In working with, and learning about, women's movements I have been conditioned to approach women of other cultures humbly, knowing that their way of being and feeling empowered may look nothing like my way, even if they reside in the same city as I do.
-I have learned from teachers and readings that women in India and the Middle East are making progress toward a more equal existence and that should not be diminished. It should not be overstated, for there are many atrocities yet still, but are there not atrocities against women in my own culture? Are women not raped by their husbands or relatives yet still in this country? I said as much to her; something to the effect of responding that "it's still ok for women to be raped in the states."
Now, I know: That was an intentionally outrageous and provocative thing to say, but I do not think it without merit. I do think it was probably too much an affront, it's shock value perhaps too strong for the situation. Regardless of the shock value, or the way I approached making my point; the point, which is that the culture of patriarchy and overvaluation of straight, able-bodied, white men and their bodies/politics/ways of being in the states is still a huge problem, stands. Violence, be it physical, economic, emotional or spatial, against women is still an epidemic in the United States. Women are still objectified, still made targets of violent ways of thinking in the media, still undervalued, still forced to conform to unhealthy "norms", still treated as less equal. We all know this. Violators of women, especially, know this or they would not think they could perpetrate the things they do.
So, when Ojibway Migisi Bineshii posted a link to this blog: American Feminists...Meet the Rest of the Globe in her weekly Stories and News from Women Bloggers, my interest piqued. The title of the blog she linked to is interesting and the article being referenced is about a "Cambridge study that says Muslim women feel free, secure in Europe." The article is pretty short and leaves me wanting to read the study, but nevertheless, it's good to find these things.
I love that the distance between peoples' minds keeps shrinking. I'd like the distance between peoples' homes to shrink too, so the land can have more space to thrive, but that's another issue entirely. (Or, Mother Earth, is it?)