Saffiyah Khan On Being Feminist In 2018
Saffiyah Khan is an activist and artist, as well as a model. Last year, a picture of Saffiyah went viral when she stood up for a stranger at a protest in Birmingham, UK. Since then, she has used her platform to speak out for equality, as well as explore politics through photography and art. For Women’s History Month, we asked for her thoughts about why women need to make their voices heard now more than ever before.
What does Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day mean to you?
A celebration of women’s accomplishments and solidarity between all who support women. I guess it’s about seeing how far we've come, too, and assessing what's left to be done both locally and globally for equality.
What does the word feminist mean to you?
It means equality: both to me, and by definition. The idea that a word has two definitions: one, the written definition and the second being the unspoken definition derived from society's experience with 'feminism' is nonsense and a concept peddled by those who reject feminism because they are privileged enough to. Though I am relatively privileged, I haven't fallen into this hole because I recognize that my life is easier than other women’s, because of where I live and how I am allowed to live my life, and for that reason I am a feminist, because other women need feminism. Feminism to me is about solidarity.
What do you think is the biggest challenge holding women and girls back in 2018?
I think tradition, FGM, child marriages, the pay gap etc. All things which are founded on stereotypical, patriarchal 'biological' arguments which are not valid as women prove every day that biological sex doesn't determine skills or work ethic or gender.
Which strong women inspire you?
I like Bosnian women, my mother is Bosnian. They fought to protect themselves in the genocide, they were subjected to weaponized abuse, the pain felt by that war is carried by mothers, sisters, wives to his day. It makes me so proud to say I carry their genes, as with Pakistani women.
Do you think it’s important for men to stand as allies with women on the issues around women’s rights? How can men show support?
Check your privileges daily. Nothing about self-hate, nothing about women being better, or deserving to be treated better. Have a Men's Day, celebrate it if you want. Toxic masculinity kills, men are abused, men aren't taken seriously when they come out about abuse. This is a valid struggle also.