Malala Yousafzai Feminist Theory

Category: Psychology

Today, most developing countries from all over the globe experience various social problems within the society. Women and kids often find themselves victims of such societal anomalies with regards to their education and rights. A vivid example is in Pakistan’s society where women are denied their rights to quality education. So as to attain remedies to such difficulties, it is imperative for society members to understand the importance of the concept of feminism in the society. This is a critical evaluation of the position of women in the feminist theory, as evidenced in Malala Yousafzai’s Speech that was presented at the Youth Takeover of the United Nations, by discussing the rhetorical figures and master tropes used in her speech

The feminist theory is the technique of integrating feminism ideas into political or sociological theories with an aim of understanding the nature of gender differences. Feminism itself is concerned with the advocacy for equality in gender and the protection of women’s rights within the society. The feminist theory breeds inquiry into the social, cultural, economic and political aspects in search of justice. It also examines the roles that women play and their interests in these fields. They are considered to be a set of ideas, which are used to campaign for women’s rights and interest. 

Feminism

The term characterizes a variety of movements and philosophies, which share a common objective in defining the political, personal, cultural, economic and social rights for women. The activities and obligations involved in the concept of feminism include the creation of equal education and employment opportunities for women. Malala Yousafzai is among the youngest feminist advocates from Pakistan, whom through her speech advocated for equal rights for women in education. She emphasized that it was time for the young and oppressed to speak up and stand up for their rights. 

Malala also expressed the concept of feminism by motivating women to embrace the strength within them and be able to make their interest known. She also called upon the governments from all over the world to counterattack terrorism so as to protect their women from social brutality. Her grasp of the feminist theory was also manifested in her statement when she challenged the developed nations to offer aid to developing countries in providing equal educational opportunities to girls. However, she voiced that such aid would not be beneficial unless the communities within the affected societies did away with women prejudice regarding gender and religion. 

Feminist Theory 

It is the extension of the concept of feminism to cover both philosophical and theoretical discourse. The theory aims at comprehending the nature and causes of gender inequality. This is through the examination of women’s experiences, interests and feminist politics in various fields such as education among others. In relation to the Malala Yousafzai’s Speech, feminist theory can be evidenced in the form of oppression and sexual discrimination of women in Pakistan. In her speech, Malala said that she stood before the UN summit as a voice every oppressed boy and girl who has been denied the right to peace, education, dignity, and equality of opportunity.  

There are three fundamental concepts of feminism that are clearly portrayed in Malala’s speech. The concepts include radical, liberal and social feminism.

Radical Feminism

This approach to feminism simply emphasizes on the social dominance of men over women. Radical feminists believe that men benefit from the exploitation of women and are also responsible for the same. It advocates for drastic economic and social restructuring whereby male dominance is abolished. Malala demonstrated radical feminism in her speech when she said that both boys and girls should be given equal opportunities without prejudice. Reordering the social structure where the male gender is taken to be supreme is also important. Malala pointed out that this step would empower more women through education thereby creating a community of unity and togetherness.

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Liberal Feminism

This approach views inequality as being embedded in the attitudes of the social-cultural institutions in the society. Gender equality is, at this moment, maintained mainly through legislation. The equal rights amendment in 1972, as stated in the Unites States Constitution, was a milestone for liberal feminists as it meant that women could uphold their equality through their actions and choices. During her speech at the Youth Takeover of the United Nations, Malala clearly pointed out the lack of proper justice and the deprivation of women’s basic rights in Afghanistan. 

In relation to her speech, in Pakistan, liberal feminism has bred ignorance among the terrorist groups oppressing the citizens of the nation. Young girls are often denied their rights to quality education and instead married off an early age or taken hostage to serve in the war. Such young girls miss out on acquiring the basic education that would have aided them lead a better life. In her speech, Malala says that “terrorists have abused the names of Pashtun and Islam society for personal gains.” Despite the Pashtun’s desire to give education to their boys and girls, the Taliban militia groups destroy schools and murder young schooling girls. 

Social Feminists

Social feminists consider the role of women, as set by the capitalists’ system, as the main cause of inequality within the society. This system was based on the traditional family unit where women stayed at home and men went to work. This idea was developed by Karl Max, who suggested that by concentrating power in the hands of a few men, women were oppressed. In her speech, Malala mentions that peace is necessary for education. Religious wars and terrorism in countries such as Pakistan and Afghanistan deter children from attending school. She also mentions that extremism in these countries leads to the oppression of women and child labor. 

Master Tropes in the Speech

There are four key master tropes that can be observed in Malala’s speech. The master tropes include metaphors, metonymy, synecdoche, and irony. Malala has used the four master tropes as a critical methodology of disapproving the actions of terrorists against women and their rights in Pakistan.  

Metaphors

They are figures of speech used to identify things as being the same to other unrelated things. It is used to create a rhetorical effect in an attempt to highlight the similarities between the two unrelated objects. Malala has abundantly used metaphoric language in her speech to make her points in the minds of her audience. For instance, she says that the Taliban thought that their bullets had silenced them but instead, the girl’s weakness and fears were changed into bravery strength and power. This metaphoric statement is a representative of the occurrence where Malala almost lost her life because of her quest to attain education.

Metonymy

It is a figure of speech that uses phrases or words to substitute a concept that is measured to be a close associate of that which was meant. Malala quotes the wise men who proposed that the pen is mightier than the sword.  She then follows her quote by mentioning that extremists were “afraid of books and pens.” In this metonymy, she used books and pens to represent the concept of education. According to her, the influence of education threatened the extremist since it is through education that young women and children become empowered. She argued that the terrorists are threatened by change and development in Pakistan due to the liberalization of women through education. 

Synecdoche  

It is a literary analysis device that uses part of one thing to stand for the whole of something else or vice versa. The can be seen at the beginning of the speech where Malala labels the day as ‘Malala day.' According to her statement, she points out that it is not her day alone. Rather, it is a day for every woman, boy, and a girl who attended the UN conference to make their rights known. Synecdoche, in this case, is used by Malala to illustrate that she is not the only one who has fallen victim of terrorism activities and gender inequality in the society.

Irony 

It is a literary device that entails the characterization of a meaning by using a language that signifies the opposite of the actual meaning. In most cases, the irony is used in figurative language to create a sense of humor or an emphatic effect. Malala demonstrates the usage of irony in her speech. For instance, it is ironical that the bullets that were meant to silence them led to the upcoming of thousands of voices that preached the same ideas to the society. This statement has a comicality effect on the audience but still explains that even if Taliban uses violence to eradicate education for girls in Pakistan, new fights for this right will emerge.   

Conclusion 

Gender inequality is a common aspect in various societies around the world. It is manifested in varying ways such as oppression, discrimination, violence, among others. Pakistan faces a big challenge of terrorism in the nation. The acts of Taliban in the country has oppressed the girl-child by denying her the right to quality education. Malala is a young Pakistani feminist whom through her struggles to attain education has been persecuted and almost killed. Her speech, before the Youth Takeover of the United Nations, portrayed an abundant usage of the concepts of feminism, metaphors, metonymy, synecdoche and irony.  

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