I was reading a blog post written by a friend this week. She’d recently returned from a trip to what is often called a developing country. While there, she met with a group of people from a minority sect. She expected to share with them feminism and be a shiny example of what an enlightened woman is.
Instead she was humbled by their feminism and learned how empowered they were and how they were really an example for her!
Of course, a quick Google search reveals that women aren’t as educated as men, don’t work as often outside the home. When they do work, they earn less. They marry at a younger age. They face religious restrictions that men do not.
That doesn’t exactly sound like a feminist utopia.
It’s not the first time and it certainly will not be the last that some rich white person travels to some place that’s not rich and not white and finds enlightenment. Years ago, I was in a yoga class when a woman explained to me that poor people in India were happier than poor people elsewhere because they were so spiritual.
This is some bullshit.
Some rich white person has bought into the narrative that their lives are somehow devoid of meaning because of consumerism and social pressure and complication. They yearn for simplifying and getting back to how things used to be and not feeling the pressure of the grind. Who know who doesn’t worry about that? Actual poor people. Because those people are too busy being worried about feeding their kids and paying medical bills and how to cover the rent this month.
Of course people in rural isolated minority group espouse happiness. They are doing what humans have always done: making the best of the situation they are in. Those women have literally no other option but to navigate the system they exist in. So they make the best out of their options. But don’t mistake that for equality.
Their life isn’t better because it is simpler. Wanting a more simple life is a privileged choice. Because it’s possible for you to buy food in a grocery store, get antibiotics and take a vacation to a far away place. People in the situation you see as a fairytale are often quite desperate for anything but.
If the biggest problem in your life is that you spend too much time on your smartphone or you check your work email on vacation, you should spend some every goddamn day thanking your lucky stars that you’re not like nearly all of the rest of humanity during its entire history, whose biggest concern is not starving to death or eaten by a goddamn giant bird or being killed by the flu.