Artwork by Aneesa Kaleem
2020 & The Connectivity of Our Problems
How soon will we realise that the problems of this world – the frustrations, the oppression, the immobility, the conflictions – are all connected? Connection. We have been overwhelmingly engulfed under the narrative that human connection is under threat and requires urgent attention in order to sustain the current structures that we exist under – a specific order of the world that appears to us as permanent, static and unique in its existence and history. Likewise, our problems appear to be boundless, unchanging and unique – be it wide scale challenges of economic hardship, crime, oppression, poverty, war, terrorism, genocide, climate change, gender inequality – or whichever of the multitude of exquisite problems concerning human existence you can no longer ignore (not that they would disappear and not worsen if you did ignore them).
Alas! Let this be a revelation: Realise that the world and within it the abundant bounty of frustrations, oppression, immobility and conflictions is all connected. Not by divinity – but by man-made, constructed structures that enable us to understand, categorise, order, divide, govern and memorise the incalculable diversity of humankind and non-human life.
Similarly, lies the question and feminist attempts at understanding gender injustice – the problems that we seek to engage and resolve are not isolated to women and their participation in social relations, norms, traditions and rituals alone. Deeply and historically connected to the feminist struggle are near all systems of the modern era – produced by patriarchal rulers, elites and societies and their norms are the many currents of today’s ‘normal’, such as the way the economy works under capitalism, countries divided into impermeable national borders, the institutionalised hyper-masculine use of violence and rape in war-time, gender-blind laws and policies, and the unaccounted exploitation of natural resources made abundant by ‘Mother Nature’, among countless others.
Feminists, But Not in Isolation
The recent challenges of the world have left us feeling isolated, and more lonesome is one’s journey of political awakening and resisting these currents of the status quo- but the struggle for gender justice is not disconnected from the diverse, innumerable and exquisite problems of the world!
The feminist struggle is not an embellished tag-line relevant to only the social and cultural realm found at the daily pathways you walk on connecting one’s home and marketplaces of commodities, education and work. Neither is this a pop culture movement (no matter how corporations would have you believe). The struggle against the patriarchy is the agitation of all connected structural problems as we know them today. Keep learning, informing and agitating – within and without!
This is not a pop culture movement.
This is agitation.
…of the normal. The old. The new. Whatever.
So let us think and act holistically for gender justice. Broaden the internal landscape of the Pakistani, desi, South Asian, brown, Southern, non-West, non-white, post- or anti-colonial (whatever have you) feminist movement. Think about the women at the margins living in lawless, bordered and invisible-to-our-eyes spaces in the world, think about the written rules that reign over us like unquestionable ‘laws of nature’, think about the consequences of historical events and intellectual disciplines resting on the exclusion of non-masculine and women’s voices. Think about how history, science and seemingly ‘objective’ stories have been foretold. Think about how patriarchal norms necessitate the colonization of land and the hunger for economic productivity. Think about how the hyper-masculine foundations of the modern world have very efficiently led to our collective human suffering in a diversity of shapes as mental health crises, rising poverty, unending warfare, a politics of nationalist hatred – you name it.
With this perspective, I urge us to keep thinking, learning and broadening the understanding of the feminist struggle as one in harmony with other movements of resistance, as part of a collective challenging the myriad of complex injustices in the world. Engage and agitate!
Author Biography: Maryam Mirza is a Master’s graduate of International Politics from SOAS. With aspirations to become a writer, she has contributed to the national progressive discourse through publication in The Student’s Herald. Through such writing, she aims to resist dominant ideas and encourage social dialogue. She has also been involved in policy research geared towards improving inclusivity in Pakistan. You can find her on Instagram and on Twitter.