Feminism | Posted by 5hereen 5ays on 09/30/2010

F-Bomb Scare

teenage feminism is global

teenage feminism is global as proven by 5hereen 5ays

Life has those funny ways of kicking you when you’re finally getting somewhere and helping you out when you’re ready to give up. Somewhere between nursing our constantly sore backsides and finding the will to soldier on, we discover those things that define us. Attributes like adaptability, perseverance, integrity and resilience are what I find myself reaching for almost daily. It’s not always easy to do what I’m trying to do, but no one said it was going to be.

Picture a teenaged, atheist, bisexual feminist with a seemingly confident personality.  You might imagine a strong, young woman who speaks openly about sexuality and gender issues, a public speaker or a member of a women’s rights committee, an active member of the GLBT community or a mouthy, opinionated member of the community.

All of these things would be fine if dealing with on open-minded western society and friends of a similar mindset, but I’m not. I’m almost seventeen, almost an activist and I’m living in Iraqi Kurdistan.

There are a number of challenges that Kurdish women face every day that many just accept as the norm, or even the right way to live. Whether it’s walking through the local bazaar or being approached by males that aren’t your relatives, there is a specific code of conduct that you’re expected to adopt.  There is an undefined taboo against speaking out against sexism because of misunderstood religious ties to the subject and cultural influences. Though awareness is improving, we still have a long way to go before men and women become equal.

A notice on the roadside near my home reads ‘There is no democracy without equality’. I found it ironic that when walking past this sign, young men honked their horns at me and shouted from their car windows, while elderly women stared disapprovingly at an adolescent women walking unaccompanied by a male relative. It’s apparent that people do want change, and issues that were once ignored are now being discussed, but as a whole, the population seems uncertain how to create positive modifications. It’s difficult to tackle a problem that isn’t governed by an organisation or a law, but by the way society has been thinking for decades.

But don’t get me wrong. Things are definitely getting better and attitudes are changing. Earlier this year I attended a celebration of International Woman’s Day that was held by a local university, and especially enjoyed a play about independent women and maintaining integrity. It just goes to show that the younger generations are open to change. The event was a hit with both male and female students as well as their lecturers. Meanwhile, at the all-girls high-school that I’m attending didn’t even mention the day. The influence that the institution is having on young women is less than desirable to the open-minded among us, as it pushes strict rules of social conduct and religious attitudes, claiming that anything else is shameful. I’m sorry to say that the majority of girls are highly impressionable and wouldn’t ever consider pushing the boundaries, let alone raise questions of sexual education, feminism or other contemporary issues.

So this year I have a plan. I’m going to join any organisations I can find concerning women’s rights and human rights in general, raise funds for the girl’s orphanage, and spread knowledge of feminism. Oh, and I’m going to blog.

I’m hoping someone thinks that I have something interesting to say.

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  • Liz @ at 12:33 pm, September 30th, 2010

    It takes a lot of courage to be a feminist in America, and I’m glad you’re so firm in your beliefs. You’re doing and intend to do a lot of things that women in America (and all over the world) are to scared to. Great job!

  • O'Phylia @ at 12:44 pm, September 30th, 2010

    Thank you so much for this article. A non-western viewpoint is something I feel people need.
    I wish you luck and courage~

  • Steph L @ at 1:34 pm, September 30th, 2010

    You have a very compelling style of writing, to the point where even if you didn’t have anything interesting to say, I’d probably be keen to read it. As you have important points and the style to put it across, I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for your posts :)

  • Alex Catgirl @ at 1:39 pm, September 30th, 2010

    I *have* to find the CNN article from a few years about female Kurdish militias members in Iraq demanding their(women’s)rights!

    It featured a picture of a group of women holding assault rifles and RPGs, and I thought gee that’s what *real* feminists look like.

    Assault rifles & RPGs >>>> blogs and protests.

  • A @ at 3:37 pm, September 30th, 2010

    this is an AMAZING article. thank you for writing it! you are very courageous and as liz said, many feminist women in even america are too shy to share their opinions. what you’re starting to do is awesome. :)

  • Katherine C. @ at 4:47 pm, September 30th, 2010

    Wow. I’ll definitely be on the lookout for any more of your writing!

  • Kali @ at 9:35 pm, September 30th, 2010

    This was an awesome piece, and it was a breath of fresh air to get an overseas point of view and not another piece on like american pop culture.

    I wish you the best in all your feminist, queer, human endeavors!

  • Jessica @ at 9:40 am, October 1st, 2010

    Your article was great! I hope you do keep up with your plans, I’m pretty sure there many people need you. Not everyone has the courage to talk so openly, especially in your culture, that, as you said, has still many barriers.

  • 5hereen 5ays @ at 11:18 am, October 1st, 2010

    Thanks so much for all the positive feedback. I was almost in tears and so driven that I jumped straight on the laptop and wrote another piece!

  • Suzanne Duffy @ at 3:07 pm, October 1st, 2010

    Wonderful article highlighting the need to take an international look at feminism. You really cheered my day up!

  • Rabha @ at 3:17 pm, October 1st, 2010

    I know how you feel. I’m a seventeen-year-old Egyptian and I grew in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Sexism is so rampant here, and it goes unchecked all the time. Everytime I speak up as a feminist, I’m shushed and dismissed because I’m a girl. My parents believe that a woman’s place is in the kitchen, serving her husband. The guys at school are now saying that they might be liberal enough to LET their wives work if they behave. It’s awful, and no one wants to listen- at least not here. Everything I say is dismissed for being against our religious beliefs- OUR RELIGION DOES NOT SUPPORT SEXISM!

    Sorry if this is rant-y and doesn’t really make sense, it’s just soo frustrating!
    And, tbh, not everyone is awful- but most of the people who agree with me aren’t willing to stand up for their beliefs, or think there’s really no point. I feel so hopeless :/

  • Garen @ at 6:38 am, October 2nd, 2010

    Amazing, well-written article and very cool title! It’s incredibly interesting to see a non-western perspective; we all need to communicate with each other to understand each other properly.

    Keep it up!

  • typhonatemybaby @ at 4:50 pm, October 3rd, 2010

    You are definitely doing the right thing. the only way to change those attitudes would be to go against the norm. Its the same no-matter the situation, audience, territory, location or otherwise.

    On that nte I completely endorse your efforts

    On a completely unrelated note, though keeping with the middle easter theme,I believe that colonel gaddafi has a fully female body guard. Unfortunately there is a mandate that they must all be virgins to be eligible.

    Here is a link to a Daily Mail article with some slightly ignorant captioning


  • Quinc @ at 11:15 pm, October 3rd, 2010

    Two controversial issues in the U.S.A. is the acceptability of abortion and homosexual. Those against these often use religious justification. However the christian bible barely mentions homosexuality (and not from Jesus either), and never mentions abortion.

    What I’ve read about the Koran implies it is actually the most feminist of the major Holy Books, emphasizing women’s rights to education and independace. Yet so many use religion to justify the opposite.

    I’ve always wondered, maybe one could try using material from the Koran to justify some feminist beliefs.

  • anonymous teacher ;) @ at 2:58 pm, December 18th, 2010

    From the bottom of my heart.. i love it;)

  • Grey @ at 1:49 am, January 4th, 2011

    It’s kind of funny because I am a teenaged, atheist, bisexual female with a mostly confident personality. Anyway, awesome article!

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