Your Safe Space

By Celeste Arenas

‘Look! A squirrel!’ – Celeste’s take on what Feminists do in response to real oppression against women.

Trigger warning: this post may offend feminists who care about trigger warnings and not about basic women’s rights abuses.

The cries of “misogyny, rape culture, patriarchy” are pretty much on full blast whenever and wherever you see a third wave, Western feminist. Normally found within the bounds of university campuses, academia and Tumblr, they are generally free to say whatever they like to whoever offends (sorry, triggers) them.

Usually demanding a safe space, the average third wave feminist forgets they have one – the free, democratic country in which they live.

Whilst endlessly campaigning against the media and how it hurts women’s feelings, its time to ask a real question: where is the campaign to end the continual, open and unapologetic oppression of women on a daily basis? There is a constant condemnation of “mansplaining,” but where is the condemnation of countries where misogyny and rape culture are actual issues and the patriarchy has no intention of relinquishing its control?

Saudi Arabia has a toxic, oil based, terrorist fueled relationship with the Western world. While most world leaders don’t have an interest to change this, it is ridiculous beyond belief that the feminist movement has tolerated this relationship with similar complacency.

Swedish foreign minister Margot Wallstrom challenged the dubious relationship between the two nations, calling out on Saudi Arabia for its systematic subjugation of women. The political reaction from both countries should be enough to anger any humanist, let alone those who supposedly champion women’s empowerment. While Sweden continued to reassure its Saudi partners, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation condemned Sweden for messing with its “rich and varied ethical standards.” There is nothing ethical about forced marriages, requiring a male guardian at all times and punishing female victims for rape crimes.

This was the perfect opportunity for the plethora of Tumblr warriors and women’s rights activists to use their voice and influence for #change. Instead, it got a blank response. Where have they been hiding? Are they too busy finding micro aggressions to see the huge, macro aggression staring them right in the face? Too busy critiquing consumer culture to remember the woman prohibited from entering a shop by herself?

Maybe something more sinister at work and the silence is not merely a result of distraction. Many social justice warriors have caught the morally bankrupt, cringe-worthy disease of cultural relativism. This is the infliction of barbaric rituals on another human being, usually to instill fear and hierarchy, justified in the name of social or religious values. Faisal Saeed Almutar put it best when he said“ Respecting human rights is more important than protecting cultural rights .. Humans have rights, culture and beliefs don’t.” There should be no tolerance for the blatant misogyny across Saudi Arabia and many other Middle Eastern countries. It should not be excused for political reasons, and especially not for “cultural ones.”

Despite their current shortcomings, 21st century feminists inherited a legacy from liberal, 20th century feminists who genuinely sought to establish a voice for women in the political process. Now that women in the Western world have that voice, it’s time to use it for the right reasons and under the right circumstances, to liberate the women who are continually and systematically oppressed.

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