Considering human rights as an issue without culture, diversity, and without complicated frameworks means it is about what it implies – "human" rights. In reality, the question arises why Western ideology of feminism exhibit so many gaps when it comes to the female of the human species. The Western feminist belief about human rights as a means for establishing a commonality among global women empowerment causes limitations in bridging gaps from a global perspective and consequently demands a new way of thinking.
Theorists on universalism and women's human rights including Grewal, Bunch, and Hua provide the textual dialogue for examining this predicament. Globally, women continue defining their own interests based on varieties of things. These include individual and group identities based on race, class, national culture and its policies as well as other related diversities (Bench 2001).
These are underlying things shaping global women identities. However, Bench and other Western feminists fail in their sincere but incomplete efforts taking into account that religion and culture connected to global feminism are not the culprits in the struggle (Bench 2001). It is within this context where the Western ideology of feminism continues exclusionary practices based upon assumptions about immigrant and Third World women and human rights (Grewal 1999).
The Western feminist lack of knowledge or failure to take a stand about immigrant women facing public hostilities, social isolation by Westerners, and the incidents of domestic violence are not because of their religion but are results of the repressive state condoned behavior from the countries they immigrate. Western authorities tasked with national security too often overlook or ignore these kinds of activity. This leads to the question, where are the Western feminists (Bacchetta, Campt, Grewal, Kaplan, Moallem, and Terry 2001)?
At the same time, there are increasing discussions among global feminists including some leaders in the West exhibiting through transnational forms supported by international organizations that challenge and in some cases, change oppressive practices counter to human rights of women. Efforts continue on the issue of violence against women for inclusion as an international human rights precept (Bunch 2001, Grewal and Kaplan 2001, Volpp 2001, and Hua 2011),
The issue of women rights with specifics such as reproductive choices among women continues meeting opposition based on religion and culture among significant numbers of global communities of women and defines just one of the disparities in a single message of women rights aligned to feminism. The assumptions of the Western feminist movement about culture and religion outside their proximity of influence continues not only misrepresenting feminist interests globally but alienates their ability for generating a collective effort in gaining recognition of women rights as human rights by international organizations such as the Vatican and Muslim feminists (Bunch 2001).
Hua places the issue in a logical perspective with her explanation of the need of "finding the causes of injustice (as) a key aspect to strategizing change" (2011 viii). Without understanding what injustices women outside the West experience then what justifies Western feminists speaking for or about non-Western women issues. This analysis cannot come from any one ideology of feminism as suggested too often by Western views.
Hua also clarifies how the process of framing "understandings of social and cultural artifacts as either positive or negative" available in such areas as "those anchored in capitalism that privilege seeing the world through cost-effective benefit analysis" (2011 viii). This statement references much of the Western feminist capitalist based ideology. Women in other global cultures not Western look at empowerment in varieties of ways that have nothing to do with economic parity with men unlike Western feminists.
Here, the fact does relate that while the Equal Rights Amendment of 1964 in America was as much about women rights, American women in the 21st century still do not have parity with men in pay for the same employment positions. This provides a measure of understanding the capitalist mindset of Western American feminism but clearly has so little to do with transnational issues of women empowerment.
This process of looking at human rights as a means for making strong arguments about equitably improving living conditions remains valid. However, when certain Western feminist ideologies about human rights use the argument for immigrant women and Third World countries, it comes across as just a remix of an old and destructive belief founded in colonialism. This occurs with labeling these entities as backward proving just another example of the ignorant assumptions that continues creating gaps in any type of global feminist voice (Grewal 1999).
The complexities of the challenges for a unification of feminist ideology representative of all women globally again, looks at the way Hua defines how it is the manner these arguments of feminism frame. She explains, "How discourses of feminism have been shaped and defined conceptualized thought out have everything to do with why feminist frameworks can be both emancipatory and also repressive" (ix). When the West frames non-white immigrants and women in Third World (the term Third World is also one that causes issues) as culturally or religiously oppressed, it contributes to establishing its own kind of repression against the women they mistakenly claim to speak for.
This explanation provides a clear understanding of the disparities connected to the Western feminist view that all women globally have the same interests and focus when it comes to empowerment. Volpp explains this historical aspect of the Western feminist assumptions as typical of not only other nations' negative views of women but also about women in their own countries (United States, UK, Canada for example) to gauge by comparisons the issue of human rights and women (2001).
All these theorists from the course take a strong stand about transnational feminists issues that include denying women economic empowerment. What is wrong with this remains the assumption this is an issue. There exist cultures (Islamic) where having economic autonomy or parity has nothing to do with women empowerment. Empowerment to most of the Muslim feminists is about the ability for an education and having the power to vote.
Grewal takes the cultural aspects of Western assumption issues another step in the power structures such as the U.S. State Department forming knowledge bases about commonalities. In this, the commonality looks to making everything Western through capitalism and marketing ploys while superficially embracing diversity. This kind of power as Grewal explains needs to be a part of the feminist criticism of naturalized knowledge that need taken apart toward creating a common and simple women and human right language without assumptions that lead to exclusion as exists too often in Western feminism (1999).
Western feminists receive notice in the press it has to do with violence against women such as domestic as well as rape as the issue. Other and just as repressive issues about women empowerment in the West are the socio-economic, racial, and ethnic realities typically not in the headlines. Other areas Western feminists receive little attention includes race, gender, religion and class issues that connect with health, again, socio-economic as well as environmental (Grewal 1999).
Within Western feminist struggles let alone transnational there exists the challenge to work bringing together addressing women in terms of human rights issues without the tendency for ignoring cultural, racial, and ethnic differences. This is the same issue when exclusion of same-sex female relationships and women empowerment emerges within feminist practices (Grewal, Kaplan 2001).
As posited in the introduction, the Western feminist belief about human rights as a means for establishing a commonality among global women empowerment causes limitations in bridging gaps from a global perspective and consequently demands a new way of thinking. The best intentions of the brightest of Western feminist theorists, activists, and thinkers presented in the academic discussion provide the source of some of the most critical assumptions continuing dividing any hope for a universal feminist voice speaking for every woman on the planet about true human rights violations. The issues of human rights versus feminism may produce the most realistic vehicle for obtaining what every woman wants as a human being. Gender continues framing much of the failings of equal human rights globally -- and does so to an extent even in Western society's connection to race, violence against women, and cultural exclusion. Until Western feminist assumptions about the empowerment struggles of her sisters globally takes a new direction to understand differences are not only diversity of culture, of race, of ethnicity, but also about how those are intrinsically what leads other global feminists struggles there is no hope for bridging the gaps of exclusion Western feminists knowingly, naively, or ignorantly continue creating.
Bunch, Charlotte. “Women’s Human Rights: The Challenges of Global Feminism and Diversity,” in Marianne DeKoven, ed., Feminist Locations: Global and Local, Theory and Practice (New York: Rutgers University Press, 2001).
Grewal, Inderpal. “‘Women’s Rights as Human Rights’: Feminist Practices, Global Feminism, and Human Rights Regimes in Transnationality.” Citizenship Studies 3:3 (1999): 337-354.
Grewal, Inderpal and Kaplan, Caren. “Global Identities: Theorizing Transnational Studies of Sexuality.” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies. Durham: Duke University, 2001. 663-679.
Hua, Julietta. “Front-Page News: Writing Stories of Victimization and Rescue,” in Trafficking Women's Human Rights. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2011, pp.49-70.
Paola Bacchetta, Tina Campt, Inderpal Grewal, Caren Kaplan, Minoo Moallem, Jennifer Terry. “Transnational Feminist Practices against War.” Meridians, 2: 2 (2002): 302-308.
Volpp, Leti. “Feminism versus Multiculturalism.” Columbia Law Review 101 (June 2001): 1181-1218.