While teaching Brick Lane, I’ve been thinking about the iterations of feminism, and how feminism is interpreted and gate-kept.
Growing up in Pakistan, I used to see feminism as only capable of being liberal, individualistic, anti-collective, White/Western-dominant, and bound to the imperialist project.
Even now, listening in on many of the Pakistani conversations on women and feminism, I find a great need to see feminism detached from classism, elitism, Anglophile culture, and secular-Islamophobic dominance.
But the trouble with elite saviors is, everything they (we?) touch turns to crap. So the process of education (‘enlightenment!’) is one of alienation, separation, detachment from grassroots realities. The same is true for feminism when liberal secular elites ‘teach’ the postcolonial ‘masses.’ When elites demand that postcolonial masses adopt feminism, they imagine upper to middle class lives in upper-middle class homes, supported by poor and working class men and women. There is no solidarity, except a class-gendered solidarity.
Liberal individualism is in all our stuff, all our words, and all our ideas, and splits us from everything life-giving.