Sunday, July 03, 2011

Kia Abdullah: competitive womanhood

Kia Abdullah is in the news because of comments she wrote on Twitter. She wrote that she felt no sympathy for three British teenage boys who died in a bus crash in Thailand whilst on a "gap yaar" and that she smiled when she learned two of the boys had double barrelled surnames:

Is it really awful that I don't feel sympathy for anyone killed on a gap yaar? That's awful, right? Yes, I'm a terrible person ... I actually smiled when I saw that they had double-barrelled surnames. Sociopathic?

So who is Kia Abdullah? She's a 29-year-old twice divorced writer who grew up in a Bangladeshi family in Tower Hamlets in London.

Kia Abdullah
Why so callous? She has written that although she is proud of her working-class origins she nonetheless has a chip on her shoulder and that she regrets never having applied to Oxford or Cambridge. Her writing is also peppered with the belief that Bangladeshis like herself are held back in their aspirations by racism. So perhaps she thinks that students with double barrelled names who can afford a gap year are privileged white people whom she can feel no empathy toward.

But she's hardly done too badly out of Britain. She graduated from the University of London, has had two novels published, was appointed an editor of Asian Woman magazine, was then appointed a columnist for Asiana magazine and has recently been a columnist for the left-liberal Guardian newspaper. It's difficult to see exactly how she has been held back, whether by being working-class or Bangladeshi or female.

Here's something else that's interesting about Kia Abdullah. Despite growing up in a Bangladeshi family, she absorbed the modern girl ethos just as thoroughly as any middle-class white girl. In one column she engaged in some self-reflection on why she and other women like her feel the need to be in competition with their boyfriends and husbands:

....a phenomenon that is becoming increasingly prevalent among my circle of friends and acquaintances: ambitious, successful and talented women suffering from an ever-diminishing sense of humour, and an unrelenting need to prove that they are equal, if not superior to, the men in their lives. It seems that showing signs of need, weakness, dependence or sometimes even personality, somehow compromises our quest for gender equality.

This type of behaviour is perhaps necessary in some arenas. When there is still a substantial pay gap between the sexes and people feel comfortable expressing sentiments such as "woman + ambition = bitch" in a public, albeit anonymous, forum, women need their armour of cold tenacity and competitiveness, but professional battles seem to be increasingly spilling over into personal lives.

It's what I refer to as the superwoman complex. So many modern women have fought so hard for freedom and independence that even when we have careers, homes and husbands, we still can't take a back seat and stop trying to prove ourselves. I may be wrong about the wider community of British women, but it's certainly something I see in my generation of British-Asian women who arguably have had to fight harder and longer for independence.

I am certainly guilty of this type of truculence. I react against all forms of dependence, stressing time and time again that I am independent and autonomous. During the course of my most recent relationship, I felt a constant need to prove that I was smart, secure, strong and self-sufficient. I was fiercely competitive and felt a relentless need to prove that I was right: a need that almost emasculated the man closest to me. In short, I couldn't stop fighting. I, like most women, want financial security, comfort, love and warmth, but for those of us who have grown up fighting patriarchy, it's difficult to allow a man to guide and support us, be it a father, lover or a boss.

It's a significant confession. She's saying that women are brought up to value being independent and autonomous and so become competitive with men not only in the workforce ("armour of cold tenacity") but even in their personal lives ("I felt a constant need to prove that I was smart, secure, strong and self-sufficient. I was fiercely competitive and felt a relentless need to prove that I was right"). She understands that this is at odds with her feminine need for financial security, comfort, love and warmth but that if you have grown up "fighting patriarchy" it's "difficult to allow a man to guide and support us, be it a father, lover or a boss."

You get some idea from this how Kia Abdullah managed to be divorced twice by the age of 29. It's also an insight into the mindset of a certain kind of modern girl; it shows how once women are persuaded that they should be independent and autonomous that relationships then become competitive as women won't allow themselves to admit to needing men and become determined to show that they are equal or superior to men in all fields of life. Hence the "harshness" that men sometimes intuit about a certain kind of modern woman.

We are bringing young women up with a set of political values that doesn't allow much of their natural femininity to be freely expressed - and this is particularly true of those young women who spend the longest in the education system and who are best able to discipline themselves to serve abstract ideals.

18 comments:

  1. Please do not lump White British Women in with this Thing.

    She shows blatant racism towards white men and proves herself to be a sociopath and yet you use her as an example of 'the modern women ethos' or whatever.

    Dude, this woman just uses feminism to cover up something Far Sicker. Hatred of british society, sick hatred of whites, hatred of white aristocracy, murderous feelings of glee towards whites.

    Seriously she is writing what people want to hear. She's a psychopath who hates everything white.

    Let's keep these anti-feminist 'what's wrong with women' discussions between ourselves...AKA White Men and White Women. Let's not bring sick non-whites into the discussion.

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  2. Is it really awful that I don't feel sympathy for anything that happens to anyone in Bangladesh? That's awful, right? I actually smile when a cyclone drowns thousands of people there. Sociopathic?

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  3. Narcissus doesn't miss us.
    Boring,hackneyed piece.
    You're divorced twice at such a young age- you have no insight into yourself,about what you or other people want & you must be a very bad judge of character.None of which give you the right to be the 'mouthpiece' for a generation.
    GO AWAY!

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  4. "but for those of us who have grown up fighting patriarchy, it's difficult to allow a man to guide and support us, be it a father, lover or a boss."

    You have men whose ideas have been the backbone of the feminist movement. Women constantly piggyback on men's achievements and movements. Their own revolution wasn't a creation of something, but mere appropriation of men's institutions. Progress now stops being progress per se, but how many women are enrolled.

    Even more progressive feminism is in the gutter with the nonsense of gender-equal classrooms in sweden, and quotas for women in higher positions. A travesty of what it was supposed to be. Or maybe it was supposed to be like this from the start?

    You have women who make history by being the first woman to do so and so, but imho women are merely playing catch up. It should be a matter of shame that it took them so long but of course there were no women before for the herd follow, so it becomes a matter of groundbreaking history!

    Now there are women pioneers in some fields to cheer for, who apparently got there without any nasty man's help. Grrl power!!

    It's beyond parody.

    Not only they don't acknowledge that they live in a world built by men which provides them with such avenues, but they think that by changing to "herstory" would change the fact that world is defined by the conceptions of men.
    The words they speak, the patriarchy theory, the values they think they believe in while providing ample evidence to the contrary.
    Thus the nonsensical movement called feminism gets stupider by the day(no limit on human stupidity), with its slutwalks as a (hopefully) fitting denouement.

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  5. Kia Abdullah is being true to her roots (as shown by her uncaring hostility to people with double-barreled names) while embracing the future (in education, production of modern culture, and the application of modern values to her personal life). There have been endless puff pieces of various sorts telling us to expect this joyfully, and look! Here it is.

    Only, there was never any reason to think that this blend of roots and modernity would be benevolent. Both components are hostile to traditional Westerners, and the easiest way to make them harmonize is to pick enemies that neither a traditional Muslim nor a destructively "modernist" academic nor a politically correct publisher would think much of.

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  6. I agree with Daybreaker's point, if you're going to have such difficulty growing up Bangladeshi in the UK then why don't you stay in Bangladesh? Also her career writing has become for this women personal therapy. This is what I hate, this is my life, is this not colossal self indulgence? Is it not possible to write or talk about political issues outside the scope of yourself or your own history?

    She seems just another smart ass lifestyler trying to cash in on criticising society. Nonetheless what’s her point? That women in order to be intellectually and professionally independent also have to be personally independent of men as well. At least you can say she isn’t looking to get married to cash in on a divorce.

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  7. On the 'bright' side, Britain's Bangladeshi population are being rapidly Islamicised, and their young women will soon be as oppressed as their Pakistani counterparts.

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  8. Richard I have a project I would like to invite you to join. Please contact me.

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  9. ""if you're going to have such difficulty growing up Bangladeshi in the UK then why don't you stay in Bangladesh?""

    Did you read her list of jobs?

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  10. James,

    No what's she up to? I'm sure we can guess.

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  11. Anther example of how the liberal worldview is spreading throughout the world. People need to understand the influence of liberal Westernization on foreign nations.

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  12. Elizabeth,

    That's one of the points I was trying to get across. Despite her Bangladeshi background Kia Abdullah has been just as much influenced by feminism as any Western woman. She has been made, by her own admission, unfit for normal relationships let alone marriage.

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  13. We are bringing young women up with a set of political values that doesn't allow much of their natural femininity to be freely expressed - and this is particularly true of those young women who spend the longest in the education system and who are best able to discipline themselves to serve abstract ideals.

    I'm only going to stay 2-4 years in college in the USA because of this reason and then go back to my country.

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  14. I'm pretty sure that financial security, comfort, love, and warmth are widespread human desires, not just feminine desires. The problem is that when a woman's show of common humanity is often taken as a sign of weakness because she is a woman. Men face similar pressures. Men are under pressure not to show any neediness because doing so is not manly. Women are under pressure not to show any neediness because doing so is seen to establish the supposedly natural dependence of our sex.

    The problem Abdullah describes is a result of too little feminism. If feminism were more widely accepted in her community, she wouldn't have to worry about "proving herself" a tough cookie in her private relationships. I live among people who take feminism for granted so it has never occurred to me that basic desire for human intimacy would make it difficult to "proving myself."

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  15. Georgina Charlotte,

    In this case the issue is not just showing weakness in relationships but about being in a position of less than dominance. Feminism describes the subordination of women to men as a position of exploitation, therefore the only way for women to escape that is to be at least as strong as, or stronger, than men in every field. So you can't say that feminism is about being a real feminine lady and also say that women must vigorously fight the oppressors in their personal lives.

    Alternatively if as you say the problem is "too little feminism", ie the front line war is still raging and you're looking forward to the victorious peace, propped up by extensive gender "equity" laws no doubt, then you're co-opting the state into this fighting role to spare the women from it. And at this time then you imagine that gender relations will be suddenly natural and free and intimacy will flourish?

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  16. Anonymous wrote:
    Please do not lump White British Women in with this Thing.

    I wouldn't want to do that. She's her Own Thing.

    She shows blatant racism towards white men and proves herself to be a sociopath and yet you use her as an example of 'the modern women ethos' or whatever.

    A writer by the name of Gary Clark once described a certain type of woman he nicknamed A.B.O.D.E. (American Bitches Of Oriental Descent). They're the first generation offspring of immigrants from Asian countries. They seem to be caught between two worlds and encapsulate some of the worst traits of both.

    This woman was born in the U.K. but otherwise should be considered a poster girl for this phenomenon.

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  17. I'm bengali and I grew up in Bangladesh then moved to canada for about the last 10 years and all I have to say is people like Kia abdullah who have never gone to bangladesh find it so easy to write shit about the people there she herself comes from an uneducated family who migrated here from the villages and yes villagers in countries in Bangladesh sadly grow up in poverty and lead their lives by old forgotten traditional rules that barely exist anymore...gladly I'm from the city I come from a educated family and it piSses me off when dumb people like are tries to stand up for bengali culture and yes anyone wonders why she was divorced twice I have seen this happen very often especially amongst uneducated families to moved from bangladesh to western countries they move but they don't change their ways kia prolly grew up with a lot of rest®ictions and I wouldn't be surprised if her hormones were raging and grabbed the first men who would sleep with her and no I am not being mean happens here a lot...but yeah all I can say is that people like her shouldn't be allowed to write about asian women because they only have seen the bad side I've seen both..she's just crazy ***please ingore any spelling mistakes or sentences that don't make sense its 4 am here and I am very sleepy but I had to post this this girl makes my blood boil it is for people like her our country gets a bad rep***

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  18. What a disgusting human being this woman is.

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