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What Kind of Feminists Are Not Supporting Palestine?

Reluctant "feminists" aren't taking an unequivocal stand against the inordinate violence. The reasons are clear.

Image: Photo from the Series 'Protests for the Right of Return of Palestinians' by Mustafa Hassona (2018/2019)

The indifference and aggression of some who call themselves feminists are incredibly frustrating for many of us. They are reluctant to take an unequivocal stand in backing Palestinian calls for a permanent ceasefire, an end to the siege, and the apartheid state. And the reasons are clear.

[Some of these categories below overlap. For us, none are feminist. This list isn't exhaustive.]

1. Those indoctrinated into imperialism who weaponise feminism to vilify groups resisting oppression. They believe the oppressed only deserve liberation in utopias where patriarchy has been totally dismantled. Moreover, they are Islamophobic and hyper-fixated on the terrorist narrative, failing to recognise their own patriarchy and pretending they’re not subjugated. E.g. White feminists.

2. Passive bystanders who are conditioned into colonial narratives of mental health care. They are convinced that looking away is a responsible act of self-care. They excel in narcissistically extracting benefits from community. However, they withdraw into shells or offer semantic word soups when asked to state their position on the ongoing genocide.

3. The placid types who only speak benign words to avoid accountability. Their behaviour is a variant of tone-policing. You are a bad person if you speak of things that make them uncomfortable. This hypocritical communication shrinks space for naming violence and garnering solidarity. The language of resistance derails them unless they are the ones benefiting from the demands.

4. Those who outsource resistance to others while nurturing themselves and avoiding risk. They don’t understand that those of us witnessing, grieving, and protesting are not all in mint condition. We also have our traumas, surgeries, projects, disabilities, pain, crises, etc. We are learning how to expand our capacity. Only those whose survival is grievously threatened are less present.

5. Mainstream “political analysis” junkies who remain misinformed and are vulnerable to propaganda. They feed on macho, outdated templates created by White legacy media. They fail to see that foreign policy “experts” and mainstream journalists propagate the discourse of those they are meant to be challenging. They are uncritical of empire and state violence.

6. Pinkwashers who believe recruiting women soldiers is very feminist, vegan soldiers are morally superior, and waving rainbow flags on top of rubble is queer affirmative. Often, the transphobic and ableist are among them. They refuse to see frameworks of systemic oppression. These are people who see militarisation, incarceration, and colonisation as compatible with feminism.

7. Zionists who are direct beneficiaries of Is-r-helli apartheid & settler colonialism. Hindu Supremacists who perpetuate variants of the same violence. Savarna feminists who internalise racism and are casteist. Hardcore capitalists who profit from conflict and think violence is inevitable. In short, those who view feminism as a movement for an equal share of the patriarchal pie.

8. Those steeped in respectability politics or elite ideologies. They either believe their oppressed communities create barriers to success or are dedicated to conformity. Many are comfortable with their complicity as they’re focused on personal gain. They are getting on with business as usual because they feel being apolitical is professional.

Note: The most vulnerable who run a high risk of imprisonment or losing their jobs, those with terminal illnesses, chronic pain, or body-mind disabilities can’t be expected to speak publically, march in protests, or be present on social media all the time. However, the fact is that many in these categories are already speaking the loudest right now in whatever ways are accessible to them.

While we can't stop anyone from using the feminist label, we see them for who they are. If they change their minds one day, we will not stop them.