These fearless women?


My feeds today seem full of stories about Afghan women. Afghan women in jail,  Afghan women’s feminisms.

This is awesome. Sharing the voices of marginalised groups? A Good Thing.

But here’s the thing. What are depicted here is one of only two archetypes I’ve ever heard of of Afghan women. They’re either entirely bowed-down, oppressed and defeated, or they’re fearless, passionate fighters for justice and equality.

Don’t get me wrong: stories about fearless, passionate fighters for justice and equality are awesome. I love reading that stuff! It’s inspiring. It makes me want to get out there and do something.

But if the only stories we tell about Afghan women (and, it seems to me, Arab women and non-Western women in general) follow these two archetypes, aren’t we missing out? Are we doing anything more than just following the same tired old Orientalist script? If Afghan women are always either fighters or defeated, are we really seeing them as people? And if we do not see them as people, what right have we to their stories?

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