By Martyn McGrath
This article is exclusive to the Online Edition 1 of VARSITY News.
The feminist movement has a history of powerful, subversive movement-building. From the founding suffragettes of Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Stanton and others, the movement has birthed a narrative of unified struggle. The feminist narrative speaks of fierce and relentless struggle against entrenched patriarchal systems of not only institutions, but the very make up of society. In all of this, there has been a fierce unity of people from all stations, races and orientations. Yet, in an age of online activism and keyboard social justice, there has emerged a troubling trend of exclusion within the movement.
Mainstream online feminism has put itself in a position that sidelines thousands of global allies. A collective group of people from all walks of life, who empathetically view the right to life as a fundamental right of every human being, use this fervor to inform their drive for women’s rights. This group of people are a diverse, passionate and driven community who have fiercely fought for the rights of womxn alongside millions of other feminists. Yet, when it is revealed that their passion for equality and justice extends to those in the womb, they are vilified and cast from the movement as traitors and sell-outs. Pro-Life feminists on Twitter, Facebook and other platforms are branded ‘sellouts’ and ‘fake feminists’ with a vitriol that can only hurt the collective movement for equality.
Kenyan Nobel Peace Laureate Wangari Maathai (the first African woman to receive a Nobel Prize) said of abortion and feminism: “Both the [womxn] and her child are victims […] when we allow abortion, we are punishing the [womxn][…] and we are punishing the children whose life is terminated […] I want us to step back a little and say: Why is this [womxn] and this child threatened? Why is this [womxn] threatening to terminate this life? What do we need to do as a society? What are we not doing right now as a society?”
Maathai, and other feminists like her, view abortion not as a part of womxn’s emancipation, but rather as a symbol of the patriarchal systems that tie them down. By refusing to accept womxn like Maathai, keyboard feminism rejects the very principles of unity and dignity upon which their founders stood for, and therefore homogenises the feminist whole. This all happens through alienating the passionate allies and fellow feminists who strive daily for the same goals as them.
This section of VARSITY is a vehicle for expression on any topic by members of the UCT community. The opinions within this section are not necessarily those of the VARSITY collective or its advertisers.