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Against White Feminism

The lawyer, activist and author Rafia Zakaria came from Pakistan to the USA at the age of 17 and worked for 5 years on the board of Amnesty International USA after having studied law. She has incorporated these experiences into her book Against White Feminsim. 

Zakaria begins with a personal story. She is sitting in a bar in New York with five other women and during the course of the evening she is asked how she came to the US. Considering how to face this question, Zakaria draws on memories of past responses to truthfully answering this question, along with other factors. Part of thinking about this  always entails looking at herself from a white perspective. She knows that she is not perceived as an individual, but always stands for a group of women. How can she tell her story but not feed common stereotypes that she is always associated with as a Muslim woman from Pakistan?  

This perspective of white women on women of colour, which Zakaria calls white feminism, is impressively illustrated in the following eight chapters of her book. She shows that the women’s movement was already built on white supremacy in its origins, the consequences of which can be clearly felt in the work of NGOs today, among other things. Solidarity with women of colour, Zakaria argues, only exists when it is aligned with Western ideals. She also criticises the commodification and individualisation of sexual freedom, the feminisation of wars and how equally violent acts against women are less condemned in Western societies. Throughout, she traces historical backgrounds in detail, exposing the double standards of Western societies and, for my part, I can say quite clearly: my own double standards. 

After the publication of Against White Feminism, Rafia Zakaria was accused of dividing the movement in English-speaking regions. With her book, however, she shakes the foundations of a movement that has always been divided, wants to encourage people, but especially white women to finally listen carefully to women of colour, and outlines the necessary steps for the future of the feminist movement. 

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