Column: A war against women


Photo credit: Digital Illustration by Azel Al-Kadiri

The current war in Ukraine is absolutely devastating. As a society, we should be learning about the issue and how we can help, not shaming Ukrainian women for “lack” of involvement.

By Azel Al-Kadiri, Columnist

Last week, after a long day at school, I collapsed on my bed and decided I had earned some well-deserved screen time. Like any teenager these days, my fingers transported me to my beloved TikTok For You page, which is usually a destination of humor and entertainment. However, that day, there must have been a glitch in the algorithm because that was not what I saw.

A few scrolls in, I came across a video of a man addressing the devastating war in Ukraine, his caption praising the Ukrainian men who must stay and fight for their country. Under the video was a message to “feminists,” shaming their lack of involvement in the war. 

Upon further research, it is clear that the creator of the video is an uneducated and provocative person who has nothing nice to say. The video was both outrageous and ignorant, so I kept scrolling.  

I couldn’t, however, stop thinking about it. 

In these past few weeks, I have seen my mother glued to the news channels like never before, I see my friends reading articles and updates during our lunch periods and every day I see the colors of blue and yellow being worn on people’s hearts. It is a tragic and frightening time in the world, and one of the first serious global conflicts my generation has watched with our own eyes. 

World War II ended in 1945. A lot has changed since then, especially women’s rights. There is such a dated stereotype instilled in my mind about what women are supposed to do during a war. I imagine a woman who is home alone, not knowing if her son is still alive or if she will ever see her husband again. She is crying, she is fragile and she would never hold a gun. 

Luckily, a lot has changed since then. Women and members of the LGBTQ+ community are able to serve alongside men in the military. But still, women and other minorities who choose to serve are no strangers to discrimination and sexual harassment. To this day, women are still fighting for their equality — not so they can be like men, but so they can be taken seriously as women. 

Before 1948 when President Harry S. Truman signed the Women’s Armed Service Integration Act, the very thought of a woman serving in combat was radical to many people. In many ways, it still is. 

It is extremely offensive to imply that serving in a war is a consequence of working towards equality. It blows my mind that people could question and criticize the feminist agenda by using an event of such grief and sadness. Not only does this argument make no sense, but it completely diminishes the harrowing experiences of Ukrainian women.

Women have fought long and hard to be taken seriously in society, the workplace and the armed services. What’s happening in Ukraine isn’t a joke or an outlet for men to diminish the progress women have made throughout history.

People are dying. This should not be an opportunity for misogynists to now shame women for not participating in a violent conflict with a highly destructive opposition.

Of course, women deserve the right to fight for their country. However, they should also be able to comfort their terrified children, feed the mouths of those they must provide for and be figures of hope in a time period meant for the history books. 

This brings me back to the 15-second video that got under my skin. Yes, it was just a video, but it wasn’t really. The text that said, “Where are all the feminists to say this is unfair?” reminds me of all people in this world who still, in 2022, just don’t get it. Feminism doesn’t mean every woman should be standing on the battlefield, but that if they chose to serve, women should be allowed, respected and honored equally alongside men.

I think what is so infuriating about comments like this is that people who say things like the message in this video, have no interest in women serving in the military. His point isn’t about equality but instead about making women feel like they don’t deserve to have it.  

The “funny” feminist jokes, hateful TikToks and crude remarks about women are normalized aspects of media that young girls are exposed to every day. Like me, all they have to do is turn on their phones. The word feminism is clouded by a negative fog of stereotypes and misconceptions that many people, unfortunately, struggle to see past. It’s time they understand that it’s not about hating men or being angry, but instead about unity and respect.

Right now, conversations need to be centered around the war in Ukraine and how we can help. So please, let’s end the war against women; it’s been too long.