Agency is easily overlooked if you actively erase it

Via Muslimah Media Watch comes a lesson in how not to advocate for women’s rights. This ad is from Germany’s International Human Rights campaign.
Poster showing a woman in a burqa among trash bags
The text translates to: “Oppressed women are easily overlooked. Please support us in the fight for their rights.”

As Jos wrote the other day about France’s ban on the full face veil, which went into effect this week, “It seems to me we have a lot easier time seeing -isms in a cultural context different from our own, and a lot harder time seeing agency.

It seems the folks who created this ad not only have a hard time seeing agency but actually went out of their way to erase it as thoroughly as possible and then stomp on it some more. And then equated women who wear the burqa with bags of trash. Literally.

“Please support us in the fight for their rights?” Please shove your support up your ass and get out of the way. Pretty sure Muslim women around the globe are too busy fighting for their own rights to deal with this paternalistic bullshit.

St. Paul, MN

Maya Dusenbery is executive director in charge of editorial at Feministing. She is the author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick (HarperOne, March 2018). She has been a fellow at Mother Jones magazine and a columnist at Pacific Standard magazine. Her work has appeared in publications like,, Bitch Magazine, as well as the anthology The Feminist Utopia Project. Before become a full-time journalist, she worked at the National Institute for Reproductive Health. A Minnesota native, she received her B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. After living in Brooklyn, Oakland, and Atlanta, she is currently based in the Twin Cities.

Maya Dusenbery is an executive director of Feministing and author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm on sexism in medicine.

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