Allen Zhu


This paper addresses both liberal and multicultural feminist concerns for the Western feminist's duty to help women around the world. Liberals accuse multiculturalists of falling into the trap of cultural essentialism, wherein they fail to hold cultures accountable for blatant human rights violations. However, liberal feminist theory both perpetuates and assumes what Alison Jagger dubs the "West is best" thesis - that the West is morally and culturally superior to non-Western cultures. I propose an agenda that accommodates concerns at both ends of the feminist spectrum. In my "multidimensional sequence for women's liberation," Western feminists must first de-Westernize the notion of human rights and seek allyship with women overseas. Then, they must hold Western institutions accountable for their previous and ongoing violations of human rights and provide reparations to the populations they have harmed, using the demands of those most oppressed to guide the process. Only after these measures have been implemented, I argue, can Western feminists critique outside cultural practices without hypocrisy, having already held their own institutions accountable for their own rights violations.



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