October 29, 2012

A Girl with a Book

Filed under: Estrogen,Here's To You!,Youth Rights — Katrina @ 10:10 pm

And now here’s an education desiring edition of…

Here’s to You!!!!

So I raise my glass and say, “Here’s to you, Malala Yousafzai!”

She’s the 15-year-old Pakistani girl who campaigned for her right to go to school. And then she was shot. Because nothing terrifies Islamic extremists more than the mere idea of an educated girl.

In response to the assassination attempt, there’s been much interest in the right to an education, that all children should have that right. Some even have said those of us in countries like the US or UK should be very glad we had that right. Even, as some made a point to add, if we did not appreciate it at the time.

Oooh, boy, here we go.

Trouble with painting this in such a way is that it pretty much silences concerns over the quality of the education or, of course, the rights of students in those schools that they should apparently be so glad they’re being forced to attend every day. Really, it’s a cousin of the age-old “there are starving children in [piece of crap location] who’d be happy to have that!” as a reason someone (read: some child) should eat food he does not like.

But here’s a question. Is it really so much better to be forced against your will to attend school than to be forced against your will NOT to attend school?

Well, it is. But it’s far better for the decision to be your own!

Yousafzai’s rights were being violated, absolutely. And she fucking rocks for all she’s done to fight for her right to attend school, something withheld from her because she has the wrong set of genitals. But the issue is that her educational choice to attend school was blocked because of oppression. It’s not just a “school is wonderful” deal. It’s freedom of educational choice.

As such, it’s ridiculous to use something like this against students who are in school against their wishes, that they should be grateful. Their educational desires are still being violated, even if they are the opposite desires as those of Malala Yousafzai and others fighting for the right to school. Their grievances are still being ignored and seen as unimportant, just like Yousafzai’s have been by those in power.

So when it comes down to it, it seems for many, Yousafzai is only the heroine she is because she’s being a good girl (by Western standards) and wanting to live the “correct” life of a child by being in school. To her Western fans, she’s fighting for what they are comfortable with, that a 15-year-old girl belongs in school because that is just the way things should be.

While, you know, the radical Islamists think 14-year-old girls should be uneducated and forced into marriages, because that is just the way things should be. Radical Islam is considerably worse, absolutely! I mean, it’s obviously much better to be educated and only marry if and whom you want. I even recognize that, for girls in that part of the world, education is their only escape from being forced to stay home and hidden from society, to be told only what their families want them to know, to be nice and ignorant for the man they’ll choose for her, because more knowledge means it’s less likely she’ll good and submissive. But when it comes to what is or isn’t right for a 15-year-old girl, the West and Islamists alike seem to think anyone other than that 15-year-old girl should be the one to decide that, unless her decision is in line with what they think she should be doing anyway.

This is about a young person being blocked from the educational choice she has made, regardless of how we or anyone else who isn’t her feels about that choice.

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