Friday, October 11, 2013

Happy International Day of the Girl!

Watch this
See if you don't cry.



    Would love to know what my co-bloggers make of this?

  2. From the article: "This is a story of a native girl being saved by the white man. Flown to the UK, the Western world can feel good about itself as they save the native woman from the savage men of her home nation. It is a historic racist narrative that has been institutionalised. Journalists and politicians were falling over themselves to report and comment on the case. The story of an innocent brown child that was shot by savages for demanding an education and along comes the knight in shining armour to save her. "

    Anyone want to tackle that?

  3. Wow. That's a very interesting angle, and one I never considered. I'm so glad you shared that, Ana. My reactions are complicated.

    I think Baig is heavy-handed--though I say this as someone who has followed the story only sporadically, and as a Westerner from a privileged background. In the articles and videos I've watched, I never read the story as a whole as "a native girl being saved by the white man", nor as a primarily self-congratulatory message about Western superiority. I always felt the focus was on Malala's bravery and grace. And the drama makes good news. Malala is an inherently likable, admirable, and well-spoken person who survived an attempt on her life and continues to fight for justice. She was so before the attack, though she was less well-known, and she continues to be so afterwards. She's very young, adding to the drama. And she comes across as humble and thoughtful. I thought the above interview with John Stewart focuses on that (though it's a pretty surface-level interview) and not much on the hospital ordeal. In the interview as well, Malala mentions her father, emphasizing his importance in the fight for women's education, and focuses her attacks on the Taliban, a group of terrorists, not on all men from her region. I've never read an article on the topic that paints with that broad a brush--though again, I may just be ignorant.

    I think he is right that, for a period of time, the focus was on air-lifting her to England, and that's where a lot of his arguments on the narrative of imperialism make all too much sense. But the over-all arch of the story, to me, focuses on Malala.

    Baig makes some extremely important points, too, and exposed my own ignorance. I was not aware that there were two other girls injured in the attack; nor had I heard anything about Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi, a 14-year-old girl gang-raped and killed, along with her family, by US soldiers. He really hit the nail on the head when he stated that Western journalists have reported on Malala's case "without putting it in context of the war in Afghanistan and the destabilization of the region thanks to the Western occupation of Afghanistan." That is absolutely true, and awful.

    Baig states that Malala is beloved of Western journalists because she doesn't speak out against the West. But she's fighting a different fight--her work focuses on the restrictions against women's education in her region. And now she's supposed to be a spokesperson for the entire area? Hmmm.

    I think my bottom line is this: Baig makes some essential arguments in this piece, and it's an important one for Westerners especially to read and reflect on. However, I think he's a bit bombastic, and is taking the focus away from the star of the show--Malala herself.

    I'd love to hear your thoughts!