Malala Yousafzai’s marriage and modern feminism

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Congratulations! That is the only proper reaction to Malala Yousafzai’s news of her marriage. But the world – or at least the Twitterati – had a lot more to say. Malala’s choice is secondary to the response, which reflects current feminism. Malala’s age, goal, and earlier scepticism of marriage have all been used by critics to cast doubt on her decision.
Taslima Nasreen, a Bangladeshi-Swedish writer, expressed surprise and claimed she anticipated Malala to “fall in love with a gorgeous progressive English man at Oxford” and marry after 30, injecting race and classism into an already sexist argument. Liberals, who have long championed Malala, the lady, and everything she represents, have been at the forefront of the controversy.
They regard Malala’s marriage as a betrayal of feminism, and her goal of universal girls’ education and matrimony cannot coexist. This faulty argument exposes a problem with progressive, left-leaning perspectives. Our public dialogue has gotten so polarised on all issues that (social) liberal views have become as rigid – strangely, even conservative – in their expectations as conservative views have been chastised for becoming. What exactly is the issue with Malala’s relationship, given that it is voluntary?
The reaction to Malala’s good news, on the other hand, appears to establish a similarly prescriptive and restrictive liberal view: a woman should study, prioritise her job, reject heteronormative nuptials, and postpone (or prevent) childbearing.
In both instances, socially created expectations define what is considered acceptable behaviour. This is anti-feminist behaviour. Feminism believes that men and women are equal and should have equal access to resources and opportunities. That woman can make their own decisions. They should not be forced to make those decisions.

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