Double Bind of Muslim Women’s Activism in Pakistan: Case of Malala Yousafzai and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy
A majority of Western feminist studies has dealt with women from the third world as a homogenous entity of poor and passive victims without agency, who need saving and thus need to be spoken for. Chandra Talpade Mohanty and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak have both underscored the urgency of seeing and dealing with third world feminism in terms of a genre that is different in socio-cultural background from Western dynamics, and they emphasize the importance of being wary of the ways in which Western feminism creates the 'discursive homogenization and systematization of the oppression of women in the Third World' (Mohanty, 1991). In this paper, I am going to investigate Pakistani Muslim women activism and the ways in which these women emerge from being a benign presence in a masculinist culture to occupying spaces of resistance, challenging patriarchal notions and stereotypical images of women, and thus becoming a guiding force for other women. I argue that even when Muslim women activists struggle in their respective domains to bring the voices of women into light, they are kept imprisoned in the double bind where they are judged by patriarchy at home and are perceived as victims who need saving in the western hegemonic discourses. Malala Yousafzai and Sharmeen Obaid Chinnoy are globally celebrated yet are extremely controversial in their home country. Both are accused by their fellow Pakistanis of being complicit with the Western agenda of maligning Pakistan and defaming their country. This reaction points to the double bind (Spivak) that this paper aims at highlighting, namely the ways in which women’s resistance to patriarchy at home is then taken up by Western media and public as a justification for imperialist surveillance and stereotypical images of these women as victims and objects to be ‘saved’.
"Double Bind of Muslim Women’s Activism in Pakistan: Case of Malala Yousafzai and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy,"
Journal of International Women's Studies: Vol. 24:
2, Article 14.
Available at: https://vc.bridgew.edu/jiws/vol24/iss2/14