Today is International Women’s Day, a day to #InspireInclusion. According to the website, this means “calls for action to break down barriers, challenge stereotypes, and create environments where all women are valued and respected” and “recognize the unique perspectives and contributions of women from all walks of life, including those from marginalized communities.”

It’s really hard for me to formulate thoughts around a fluffy campaign for women’s rights right now. Ultimately, these flashy campaigns created by the UN and other international efforts end up feeling quite patronizing. See the definition of inspiring inclusion above, with an extra phrase tacked on to the end to make sure we don’t forget marginalized communities in our advocacy. 

And yet, the women of Palestine have been ignored entirely. Maybe ignored isn’t even the right word, because it insinuates the passive omission of Palestinian women from existence, but the current Israeli acts of genocide in Gaza are an active removal of all means to sustain life. 

The Palestinian Feminist Collective released a recent report condemning reproductive genocide in Gaza, showcasing the depth of destruction that has diminished all life-giving capacities, from absolute destruction of agricultural environments, an elimination of education facilities, a complete absence of maternal healthcare, and the mass murder and starvation of the population.

Meanwhile, in the midst of the rubble, Israeli soldiers loot through Palestinian homes and take pictures with women’s underwear to plaster across social media. As if the death and destruction were not enough, the fetishization and humiliation of women continue posthumously. It serves as another cog in the machine of Israeli occupation, where the pretext of self-defence against terrorism fades away and the dehumanization of an entire population serves to justify their extermination.

Did you really think Gazan women didn’t wear underwear?   

But it’s not about the underwear, is it? Israel, as the beacon of Western liberal values sent to illuminate the dark and dangerous Arab world and self-proclaimed morally superior army et al, has taken it upon itself to promote a white liberal feminism that intentionally erases the experience of Palestinian women. This is a feminism that seeks to “save” Arab women from the chains of patriarchy, while simultaneously carpet-bombing Gaza and forcefully starving a whole population, eliminating every life source available to Palestinians.

This absurdity plays directly into the double-edged sword of every woman’s reality: “be desirable but not sexual,” “be modest but not too modest,” “get educated but don’t expect equal pay,” “be a leader, but don’t be bossy.” It is an impossible game that forces women to toe a line that is always moving. 

So, if the feminism we celebrate today does not reject reproductive genocide in Gaza or the fact that Gazan women do not even have the right to own underwear, then believe me, that’s not liberation.

Picture of Hannah Redekop

Hannah Redekop

CPT Communications Associate

Send Hannah a note: peacemakers@cpt.org

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