Monday, 22 December 2014

Social Justice As A Concept

Social justice cannot be exclusionary. We must be outraged about every tragedy, we must be angry about every injustice in every country, it is backward and obstructive to be selective. When horrible events happen around the world, there is a trend that involves people attempting to draw parallels between each one, in order to create a somewhat overall understanding of the situation. However the problems of these worlds do not fit together in that way, each situation is unique in its idiosyncrasies and attempting to apply solutions or interventions from one to another is an almost offensive oversimplification. It is a cruel generalisation of the historical context and different social, religious, and cultural issues that exist.

You cannot fight in the name of social justice, if you were not equally outraged by the attack in Peshawar, as you were the events in Sydney. Liberalism is not limited to the West, by fighting for human rights we have to fight for every human, regardless of their ethnicity, gender, religion, age or sexual orientation.

This applies heavily with feminism, particularly women who are anti-feminist. Women in the western world who wear their ignorance with a somewhat pride or honour need a wakeup call. Despite the issues that exist here, (pay gap, domestic abuse, objectification,), surely it is worth supporting feminism for the women and girls without rights/education in other countries? Even if you feel you don’t need feminism, (although just because you have not experienced something, doesn't invalidate its reality for many) it is crucial to recognise it is much bigger than that. Moreover, the so called feminists who don’t speak about these issues need to broaden their priorities, rather than dictate their own self-proclaimed ideals of feminism.

The image of social justice much like feminism has been contorted to mean something it does not. It is for those who are ‘easily offended’ and ‘overly politically correct’ – but this is belittling and insensitive to what the whole movement stands and fights for. Social justice is broad and complex with millions of people striving to find what is right, naturally therefore people disagree. However there is a cause, its definition is ‘the view that everyone deserves equal economic, political and social rights and opportunities.’. Is that not worth fighting for? 

Internalised Misogyny

‘Girls are so bitchy!’

‘I hang out with guys because they’re less drama’

As a woman, if you hear other women repeating statements similar to this, or you say this yourself, it is important to consider why. Why you believe it, and why you feel the need to be exempt from that category.  If you have no credible answer, (which is most probable) then I’m afraid you have encountered the clutches of internalised misogyny.

What is internalised misogyny?

Internalised misogyny is the hatred of women by women themselves.  It stems from the issue of sexism being nullified into satire and therefore loses its seriousness in young women, resulting in the statements as seen above. It is strongly linked with slut shaming.

One of the most obvious examples of this would be to claim ‘I am not like other girls’. Other girls as in those who like pink, young adult novels, fashion, or other stereotypical “feminine” interests. As a culture, most things perceived as ‘feminine’ are mocked, the whole conception of fan girls, screaming and crying after their idols is an obvious example. Is this not the same in football? Are there not men screaming and crying over their football teams? Why is one more acceptable than the other?  Fan girls are grouped together and stereotyped as unstable, and frenzied – thus making their opinions/voices insignificant.  It is ironic that celebrities will fear the ‘fan girl’ without recognising the power they hold. They make celebrities who they are, the power they hold should not be underestimated.

Let me stress the fact that it is almost completely unavoidable. Sexism is ingrained in our culture to the point that it is almost inevitable for everyone to hold sexist views.  Part of being young is that you want to feel accepted and attractive. However to achieve this by disassociating yourself form your own gender is harmful. It is not only hurtful to all the women in your life but it isolates you because it forces you to assume a certain role in life – a limited one.

Internalised misogyny is widespread but rarely discussed or addressed. Women have to stop hating, judging and competing with each other. I should not feel challenged when meeting a beautiful woman, I should not consider the beauty of the women I encounter as a threat to me, or an attack on my person hood, their beauty does not detract from mine. Yet I struggle with this frequently - we need to love and encourage each other, not envy and demean.  

Friday, 28 November 2014

North Korea on Ferguson.

North Korea has condemned America for its abuse of Human Rights in the Ferguson case. This is unbelievable. North Korea cannot be an advocate for human rights when it is one of the worst offenders in the world.  This post is in no way a defence of America with regards to the Ferguson case. The American judicial system is corrupt and racist, that is why people are protesting.  Darren Wilson the white police officer who shot dead Mike Brown walked away completely free and this is unjust. Yet I’ve seen people online, with a somewhat praise/admiration for North Korea because of this action. I deem it necessary to remind people of the atrocities North Korea commits, and highlight awareness for the brave survivors who’ve come out to share their stories with the world. Kim Jong-Un assumed power after his father’s death in 2011, yet there has been no noticeable improvement in human rights. The government practices collective punishment, torture and inhumane treatment, executions, political prisoner camps, and restricts the freedom of information and movement.

”See! Even North Korea says the USA is wrong!!!”

Stop. North Korea has merely recognised the international criticism of America, and has released this statement in an attempt to appear just and righteous in comparison.  North Korea has no moral authority with this. This is politics and propaganda, North Korea does not care about the oppression of people in America, in fact it has its own dangerous view of racial supremacy.

The Security Council should follow up by referring North Korea to the International Criminal Court to investigate the long list of crimes against humanity.” – Kenneth Roth, UN.

 It is ignorant to blindly accept this statement of ‘support’ from North Korea, with the mentality that ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’. Moreover, careless comparisons between the North Korean regime and the US are gross trivialisations of the terrors that exist in North Korea. Yes oppression exists in America and yes it must stop, however it is imperative to this discussion that we recognise that there is no freedom of speech in North Korea, there are no protests.  

How can we help? It is not impossible! There are many ways in which we can help, but the most important;

  • Raise awareness about human rights in North Korea!As you may have done for Ferguson, for Mexico, for China. Do not let the voices of the oppressed go unheard.
  • Donate to the causes that exist! Many organisations work with refugees, helping them reach safety and freedom!
  • Put pressure on the international community to actively engage.

No one deserves to be deprived of their human rights. Watch this incredibly brave and moving description of Yeonmi Park's experience.