Comment Writer Talia Knoble-Gershon discusses the need for feminism to diversify, highlighting the importance of supporting Iranian women

Hi im talia kg i am from london and study Political science and social policy at university of birmingham. I love journalism , writing and learning about different policy initiatives and social housing. I love learning about current affairs as well.
Images by Craig Melville

For years and years, feminism has tried to diversify – it has tried to move away from the notion of white feminism. This refers to a type of feminism that focuses and sees the world through a privileged white woman’s perspective. In my opinion, this movement or type of feminism does not help the cause of women around the world because it is uplifting the voices of one group of women instead of working towards helping a range of different women. White feminism is associated with the first wave of feminism which was the notion of the suffrage movement and thus helping white women in particular get the vote. It is interesting to note that although white women were allowed to vote in America, suffrage was not expanded to all women across the country until the voting rights act of 1965. 

However, we need to move away from white feminism to a more inclusive type of feminism as there are many practices put into place to help the white, cisgender, privileged woman. This disadvantages women outside of this sphere because there is no focus on helping them in this one type of feminism. In particular, the notion of white privilege and the white perspective taking over, especially in the Western sphere, indicates the beneficial position white women are already in. Thus, intersectional feminists have tried to change this. This sort of feminism embodies the idea that there shouldn’t be a ‘one size fits all’ practice. This is because different women have different needs, struggles and hardships. Intersectionality is the intersection of many different types of discrimination. This ranges from ‘gender, race, age, class, socioeconomic status, physical or mental ability, gender or sexual identity, religion, or ethnicity.’

We need to move away from white feminism to a more inclusive type of feminism

How does Iran play into it? In recent weeks there have been mass protests against the Iranian regime, both in Iran and worldwide. This was sparked by the death of Mahsa Amin. Mahsa was a 22-year-old Iranian woman who was arrested on the 13th September by Iran’s morality police for having what they thought was an ‘improper hijab.’  She died on September 16th. The Iranian authorities have said she experienced a heart attack whilst eyewitnesses say they saw police beat her. 

This death has caused an eruption of protests and outcry in Iran against the barbaric rules which dominate women’s lives in Iran. This includes women cutting their hair, burning their headscarves, and stepping on photos of the Supreme Leaders. These protests are being led by the Iranian generation of Gen Z, with many school girls involved. Thus, the movement has used the term ‘Women life freedom’ across their protests. These brave Iranian women and men are risking their lives under an oppressive regime to be able to have basic rights upheld.

Ordinary women have become involved in the cause for Iranian women

These protests in Iran have received support all across the world with over 150 rallies around the world having taken place. The support for Iranian women worldwide is a demonstration of how feminism has morphed to become multi-faceted, supportive of different types of communities, for people who don’t look like them or have similar lives to them. This has also been shown through celebrities. Over 50 famous French women have cut their hair in support of Iran. This includes Julliette Binoche, Marion Cotillard, and many others. Many different feminist organisations have come together to create a list of things needed to be done to help Iran. 162 organisations have signed it, with the hope that many more will join. 

All of this shows support from a wider group outside of Iran. I truly believe the protests are changing the face of feminism as many Western feminists are moving away from staying in their sphere of feminism and are instead helping the intersectional cause. It depicts a turning point in feminism as it shows different women helping women in all they can do. It is starting to break down the barriers of racism, colonialism, discrimination and instead building up an understanding that there cannot be one sort of feminism. Instead, it is the duty of the more privileged to uplift the voices of those fighting. In this case, it is the fight for choice, to be able to dress the way you want and live the way you want. There is hope that it is not simply symbolic, but instead a true commitment to the women of Iran. Thus, this message spreads to all women around the world fighting for different causes.

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