We all know that to be a feminist means that you believe in equality for all with a focus on women’s rights. In the United States, feminism fights to gain reproductive rights and reproductive health, gain sexual rights, close the wage gap in gender, stop prostitution, end rape culture, and more. A few specific examples are victim blaming, objectification of women, the freedom of choice to choose what one does with her own body, and gender equality in wage, job opportunities, and pay raises.
Most people will probably assume that feminism in the United States or feminism in the western states concerns are the same concerns of women in other countries, but this is actually incorrect. Unfortunately no single country, small or big, is the same as that of another country in the concerns of women. When a person assumes that the concerns of women are the same as all women everywhere actually causes a few problems. By assuming this, an individual ignores culture, ignores language barriers, ignores religion, ignores traditional beliefs of other countries, and ignores what are the most important things to fight for in specific countries.
Transnational feminism is the most desirable feminist ideology used to avoid this assumption. This type of feminism and feminist movement is described in Women Across Cultures, by Shawn Meghan Burn:
Transnational feminist movements span across multiple nations and have at their core the belief that women are entitled to the same rights as men, regardless of where the women live, and their ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, and social class.
Knowing what a transnational feminist is, it is also good to know that this feminism movement does everything it can to avoid ethnocentrism. Certain concerns such as reproductive rights, sexual rights, work, politics, sexual health, and more are not the same concerns in that of different countries. How do transnational feminists avoid this?
In short, no country have the exact same type of values as that of other countries, so blatantly attempting to apply a “universal” feminism just does not work. For example, words in the English language don’t mean the same thing in other languages, such as:
Transnational feminism fights for equality of women in all countries, but simply believes that women should be equal in respect to men, in a non-ethnocentric lens.
Abortion in the United States
In the United States there is a dualistic fight, an individual is either pro-choice or pro-life. What many people like to make you think is that pro-choice means you support abortion and that you automatically would choose that option for yourself as a woman if you got pregnant or would choose that option for your significant other if they got pregnant. There is something wrong with this though. THIS IS WRONG. What pro-choice actually means, is that you support the right for a woman to have control over her body, that’s it. Pro-life is the belief that a woman should do everything they can to keep the baby alive (in some states, the unborn fetus is more important to people than the mother). Often, these people are either a christian, a Republican, or both Republican and christian. While there is supposed to be a separation of state and church, the corruption and patriarchy that exists in the United States simply ignores this. To understand the argument more in the United States, watch this video through Planned Parenthood:
Abortion in Other Countries
While abortion is relatively safe and mostly legal in developed countries, it is almost the exact opposite in developing countries. To see a few statistics, here is a quote from the Burn:
In developed regions, nearly all abortions (92%) are safe, whereas in developing countries, more than half (55%) are unsafe…an estimated 68,000 women die each year as a result of safe abortion, 5 million are hospitalized, millions suffer infections and other complications such as infertility, and approximately 220,000 children lose their mothers from abortion-related deaths
Unfortunately in these countries, women don’t get the right kind of hospitalization attention they should receive, making it is far more illegal and unsafe to have an abortion. Despite the fact that legality of abortion in both the United States and the rest of the world would reduce mortality rates and complications, this remains a problem in most countries around the world to some extent. To understand global reproductive and sexual health, watch this video below from Gutt Macher Institute:
Transnational Feminism & Abortion
Understanding the facts of abortion in both the developed countries, such as the United States, and the rest of the developing countries is important knowledge to have. Despite abortion being just one of the wide variety of concerns that feminists have and there being so much similarities in health risks of it being illegal and the benefits of having the option, there are still select countries around the world who would rather not have that option at all. Here is a situation where generic feminisms sometimes fail to recognize that not all concerns are the same. This is one concern that actually varies in this situation, written by Burn:
In the West, family planning and abortion have served as major mobilizing forces for the women’s movement, but such programs often arouse suspicion and opposition from women in some developing nations, who may see these as attempts to limit the populations of their ethnic groups.
While this is just one example of how ignorance in not knowing a culture before trying to help it, can do more harm than good. Often other countries feminist concerns focus more on motherhood, women’s suffrage, women’s right to work, women’s right to dress freely, women’s right to own a bank account, and etc.
After grabbing quotes from the book, Women Across Cultures: A Global Perspective, by Shawn Meghan Burn, inserting a couple YouTube videos, writing out the differences in pro-choice and pro-life in United States, shedding light on abortion in other countries, and writing how not all feminist concerns are universal, I truly hope that you as the reader have a new outlook on abortion and feminism. Women everywhere in the world, developed or undeveloped, white or colored, straight or not straight, and etc. deserve respect to their culture, attention to their history and traditions, and equal opportunities as their male counterpart.
Avoid ethnocentrism, fight for women’s rights, and don’t forget about the rest of the world.
For information or donating to help women’s reproductive rights in the United States go to the most helpful company, by going to Planned Parenthood’s donate Facebook page or their general Facebook page.
For information on how you can help global feminist issues go to these sites:
- International Women’s Health Coalition
- Engender Health
- World Health Organization’s Department of Reproductive Health and Research