Might violent revolution be the correct answer to the continued oppression of Women? Is it time for women around the World to start striking back?
It’s not that I disagree with the timeless truisms that ‘violence begets violence,’ or that if you ‘live by the sword, you die by the sword,’ but after reading an article about retribution killings of female public figures in Afghanistan who were working to end the repression of women, I want to cautiously question whether another approach (in combination with the current one) might be necessary?
Achieving fundamental change in social orders that perpetuate inequality and injustice through peaceful means is possible; and has been achieved in multiple cases. The use of non-violence both by Gandhi and in the Civil Rights movement are two well known examples. However the use of non-violence relies on a significant level of trust in the reality that repression cannot be sustained in perpetuity, and that eventually the conscience of the masses that allow the practices to continue will be awakened to the harsh reality of their failure to act.
The key then, is that the global conscience of those powerful enough to prevent such injustices will be brought to bare on those committing the injustice, and force them to stop. But what if it is not enough? Or more pertinently, how long should we be willing to wait for this process to occur?
Franz Fanon, believed that the only way to effectively end colonialism was to use the tools of the oppressor against him. The only language the colonial powers understood was violence. This of course proved to be problematic as post-liberation was succeeded by replication in only more brutal forms.
But to bring it back to the gendered question, the frustrated side of me asks whether a targeted, even grassroots campaign of fear, violence and intimidation against all those that oppress, abuse and kill women might not help further the cause for equality. Of course, this won’t happen. The cross cutting cleavages of identity that override gender as a unifying factor, tend to begin to be broken down in the home and in places and spaces where women are oppressed – mothers passing on oppressive traditions to their daughters, the power of the male in the household always dominant etc. It would seem this prevents women from organically banding together against their common oppressor in a social revolution (violent or not).
That is, until a few female leaders begin to speak out against such oppression, risking their lives, and become a rallying point around which women can begin to believe that their lives can change, and their futures could be different. That is, until that public figure is executed by conservative forces that don’t care about the shifting global or societal norms that say (without significant action) women should be equal.
And then what? When the non-violence struggle doesn’t affect the conscience of the masses or when the conscience of the masses aren’t enough to end this insurgent repression? How long should we be willing to wait, allowing it to be permissible by many, rather than reprehensible by all that women are oppressed, and executed when they push against that repression? When might it be appropriate to strike back?