(a)VIDEO ON “THE GIRL EFFECT”
The video highlights a world in a mess which is crippled by epidemics such as HIV/AIDS, hunger, war and financial crisis. The plight of the woman in a society characterized by gender disparity and a lack of universality of a woman is portrayed. The video explores solutions to the existing world crisis and dramatically reveals the only tool at hand is a girl. An empowered girl is portrayed as the tree of immediate liberty from the manacles of HIV/AIDS, the chains of civil war and economic dependence, and the hunger crises. An empowered woman is displayed as instant coffee to the problems that the society is facing.
The video is full of gender-stereotyping themes. The video shows a world in a mess while under the leadership from men. The video gives a clarion call for women to be included in the village council. It depicts women as peace keepers and crucial in ending the current wars. The lecture on 9/17/2012 showed that anthropologists focused on the doctrine of an egalitarian society between genders. The embers of gender equality have been fanned into flames of a revolution as women seek equality in all spheres of life. Patriarchal discrimination is not just a gender concern, but a human rights violation where equality race, gender and physical ability are paramount. These draws sharp comparisons in Carol Cohn’s book on her experience in a nuclear plant. Carol depicts men as hell-bent on waging wars and even masculinizes the military. Her highlight of men as war mongers is not lost as she says that the designs of the weapons resemble male organs. Another aspect is the HIV/AIDS scourge which is also blamed on men. The gender stereotypical themes remain a keystone of the video as it highlights an empowered woman as the spring of economic stability. The discourse by Jomo Kenyatta in his book Facing Mount Kenya also reinforces these stereotypes on the role of a woman in providing food. A woman upon initiation is taught about the core values of the society, which include taking care of family and bring up health children. It is the girl child who is the beneficiary of the video since it depicts her as the savior of a world on the brink of the precipice and economic depression. Emily Martin argues that even scientific studies have been influenced by cultural perceptions of gender. This is not scientific fraudulence, but a highlight of how gender stereotyping themes have affected the society. The egg (female) is dormant until hit by a sperm (male). This shows existing stereotypes that the video seeks to overcome in a society where a woman is not given a chance.
If the video was scripted by a feminist anthropologist, it would reinforce on the role of the girl child. The script would dwell more on the evils of men in the society and focus on their obsession with warfare such as that done by Carol Cohn and Cynthia Enloe. As much as the message would be the same, the evils of men in causing hunger, spreading HIV/AIDS and initiating unnecessary wars would take the center stage rather than the pacifying effect of a woman. A feminist anthropologist would focus more on the ills done by men than on the role of women in overcoming shortcomings of men.
(b) STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES OF FEMINISM IN THE INTERNATIONAL ARENA
Given its diversity and aggressiveness blended with activism, feminism has made immense contributions to the world of politics, international diplomacy and varied interpretations of the gendered global hierarchy. These can be examined from the empirical, critical and analytical viewpoints.
Feminism is a pillar in highlighting the plight of women in all aspects of life. Abu-Lughod portrays a Muslim woman who is oppressed by an extremist regime. The Americans attack Afghanistan in pretext of saving the woman, but aggravates human suffering. The paradox of seeking to protect the Muslim woman from the Taliban and to end up putting her in a worse crisis highlights the dilemma of a woman today. The feminist lens is the voice of a woman in shaping military policies and decisions.
The cornerstone of feminism is the transformative nature of it in the international arena. Feminism has helped is bringing power to women. This pragmatic role has helped in the demasculinization of the military, government and cooperate organizations. The transformation of this structure is strength of feminism. Women are now treated equally not only on the basis of gender equality but on the basis of human rights issues. The end of patriarchal discrimination has allowed women to participate in the active policy making and international politics. Cynthia Enloe argues that instead of women accepting titbit roles and allowing men to dominate important sectors, women must also take the mantle.
Feminism has also had its weaknesses. Radical feminism is highly critical of men and disparages the idea of gender equality by portraying men as evil. Cynthia Enloe portrays men as war mongers in her conversation with Carol Cohn. Feminism has also ignored the existing cultural practices in nonwestern countries. Abu-Lughod laments the propagation of Western culture as America seeks to ‘save’ the Muslim woman. The burqa is not imposed on a Muslim woman; instead it is a symbol of modesty and respectability. Abu-Lughod is asked about the concerns of a Muslim woman on the dress code by the Western people. These show a feeling of cultural superiority by Western cultures. The author reveals that the “women of cover” as President Bush would refer to them had religious obligations and were comfortable in obeying it. The author wonders why proponents of feminism focus on the Muslim woman in a bid to emancipate her from oppression yet forget human suffering that exists.
The weaknesses of feminism on the international arena can be solved by respect for other cultures and the perceived role of a woman. Western culture should not be imposed on nonwestern countries. It is also paramount to respect men and focus on feminism as activism against human rights violation rather than supremacy war against men. The lecture on 10/01/2012 showed that women are often not taken seriously when discussing international politics because some show naivety on how power relations between countries are created and perpetuated. It is paramount for women to show passion and understanding of world politics before they take their rightful place in the international arena. In this manner, the weaknesses of feminism can be mitigated and its strengths of fighting for equality fortified.
Enloe, Cynthia. Bananas, Beaches and Bases: Making Feminist Sense of International Politics. illustrated, revised. California: University of California Press, 2001.
Abu-Lughod, Lila. “Do Muslim Women Really Need Saving? Anthropological Reflections on Cultural Relativism and Its Others.” American Anthropologist 104(3) (September, 2002): 783-790.
Cohn, Carol and Cynthia Enloe. “A Conversation with Cynthia Enloe: Feminists Look at Masculinity and the Men Who Wage War.” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 28.4 (2003): 1187-1207.
Kenyatta, Jomo. “Initiation of Boys and Girls.” Kenyatta, Jomo. Facing Mount Kenya. Nairobi: Jomo Kenyatta Foundation, 1984. 20-50.
Martin, Emily. “The Egg and the Sperm: How science has Constructed a Romance Based on Stereotypical Male-Female Roles.” Chicago Journals 16.3 (Spring 1991): 485.