By Vian Faraj:
After numerous defensive activities by the YPJ (Womens Protection Units) in Kobani, evidently equality concepts are going to be reborn from under the sleeveless jackets of guerrillas in a small city-state located at the man-made border between two colonialists, Turkey and Syria. What the egalitarian Kurdish female fighters in Al-Jazira, Al-Hasakah, Afrin, Aleppo and Qamishlo, and in all other areas of West of Kurdistan, Rojava, have achieved, and the way they maintain their own individual rights in that pitiless and brutal fight, is going to cause, simultaneously, a moral and social explosion not only within Kurdish culture in the upcoming decades, but also across the Middle East and beyond.
The new phenomena of equal roles for all is going to modernise the ancient nest of masculinity, empowered by religious ethics and backward norms and values, that has enabled men to be worshiped by women and act like women’s owners. It seems that no longer are Kurdish woman willing to be invisible.
They were for a long time mainly just housewives – cleaning, washing, cooking and looking after children and also helping out their men in the fields, Even employed women still had to have good ‘reputations’, for the honor of their families, not to mention how crudely the idea of reputation was standardized. They were bound by a chain of social and religious boundaries that banned so many innate and inborn rights such as laughing and loud speaking, and obliged them to be shy and have introverted personalities. Nowadays, women fighters are sturdily trying to change this culture and refuse to be just beautified and mouth-shut sex toys doing bed duty at its best during long and endless nights. They gave another meaning to life. They are changing the morality of society and trying to reshape it with new meanings.
Today this feminism movement or, better to say, these feminist guerrillas have not only opened up perspectives on their feminine rights, but they have also changed men’s mentalities and perceptions on women’s abilities and rights. Only months ago Kurdish men mostly objected to handshakes between their women and strangers; they believed their reputations were at stake and that women cannot be saved unless under men’s arms and shadows. Today, not only has handshaking become normal, but it is also accepted that women can be guerrillas and fighters. Men’s mentalities have changed in that they credit the belief that women are capable of defending the rights of their nation.
Moral identity and reputation is no longer related to the virginity of women; these ideas have changed very rapidly, beyond of our expectations, and gained a new meaning and a new concept. It is the defence of civilians from any offensive or assault by armies or militants that is now considered a true badge of honour and reputation. This is what the YPJ has achieved, making a social revolution towards gender equity and balance. The new wave of feminism has been sourced and will evolve from a small Kurdish town, Kobani, where people have been threatened by the injustice and tyranny of Islamist extremists trying to destroy all humane aspects of life with their cruel and meaningless values.
Obviously the new generation of feminists does not need to burn make-up in order to be recognised, as was done by the women’s movement in the last century. Likewise this generation does not have to protest and create disturbances in order to get voting rights. Indeed logical thinking, being present at crucial times and cooperating with each other, determination, ability to resist, strategic thinking, military planning, and the charisma of patience and evolving have enabled Kurdish women fighters to become standard bearers for equality and rights. All these characteristics have played a role in balancing the gender scales in Kurdish society and in Kurdish mentalities.
Today, the guerrillas and female fighters provide a new formula in the feminist world. It is women’s responsibility, especially Kurdish women, to globalize their achievements to make it a flame that generates the notion of liberation to all women around the world, especially those who still have to eat behind their veils.
This article has also been translated and published in Spanish and Kirmanci- Kurdi. The original version was in Sorani.
Vian Faraj, is a doctorate degree student Majoring in Political Science in Valencia University