The Western concept of women's freedom and rights, in reality, equates women's rights to their "right" to three main things:
1. Taking off their clothes.
2. Taking on jobs outside of the home
3. Mixing with men.
The right to the above things are emphasized so much that in practice (such as the practice of the Americans in Afghanistan), basic human rights such as the right for women to live, to not have their homes bombed, and not be raped and tortured seem to have no place in this view.
The Western concept of women's rights, expounded initially by the feminists, and now spread everywhere, was initially based on a general hatred of Western men, who had hitherto oppressed and subjugated their women (Hooks, Ch 1). Per the teachings of their Priests and Rabbis, they treated their women as inferior, and even questioned if they "had a soul" or were of the same species as men (Badawi). Many leaders of contemporary feminist movement came from "relationships where men were cruel, unkind, violent, unfaithful". (Hooks, Ch 2) These women wanted to be "equal" to men, but they mistakenly understood equality to be: "women can do everything men can do." The fact that they are physically, emotionally, biologically different didn't, and still doesn't matter in this viewpoint. The Western standard of perfection was, and still is set to be "the man", and those who are not men (i.e. are women) also are pressured to meet this male standard if they are to be accepted in society as women!
The Western view on women's rights and 'freedom' has had different shades in terms of practical implications. What ends up being the popular practice depends on which decade is under question, and what the western male elite in that decade wanted from the women at that time. As a former student from Wellesley college (a feminist-oriented women's university in America) put it as follows: "We (Americans) have no set values. We are just drifting here and there not knowing what we're doing. Every decade, there is a different set of values. First the homosexuals were bad, now they are good. First, alcohol was banned, and now it's okay. First, it was good for women to cover, now there is so much pressure to take it off...What's going to come next and where is it going to lead us to?"
In contemporary western society, what the views on women translate to in practical terms, is that women, in order to prove to society that they are perfect "liberated" women, have to prove that they:
1. Have the perfect body, and are capable to use it to attract men,
2. Have a stable career, well-paying job, and can support an entire family on their own,
3. Are capable of heavy weight lifting, driving trains and trucks, being engineers, technicians, and porters etc. - basically doing all other traditionally male chores -- as well as traditionally female chores.
4. Not complain about the social problems, stress, psychological, and psychiatric illnesses that result from not being able to cope with the above demands (because they are the ones who "asked for it").
The above, as well as serving multiple men as waitresses, air-hostesses, bar-maids, secretaries etc. are, ironically, supposed to "emancipate" women (from men), and to "empower" them. . It is interesting to note that feminists themselves are now realizing that "work does not liberate women from male domination" (Hooks, p. 49). Eileen Boris' well-researched book, Home to Work the reality of women in the work force as she explains that despite the major roles in women have played in the development of the nation, and the sacrifices made in fulfilling more than just one or two roles in order to feel "worthy", they have still not been fully recognized. "America in the 1850's found women working as laborers for the East coast cigar industries. These women resided in what were called tenements, where they not only worked but ate, slept, cooked, and cared for their children simultaneously." (Home to Work, p.21). Despite suffering the hardships and becoming victims of such callousness, the Western women still insist on imposing this wrong view on the world, and even dare to criticize others for not following their admittedly mistaken notion!
Furthermore, a significant segment of contemporary Western women have gone to the extent that they try to prove that not only can women do everything men can do, they also don't need men "anymore than a fish needs a bicycle". So, such women, in order to satisfy their natural desires, will resort to other women, and commit acts under the title "lesbianism," which were perhaps even unknown to the cursed and destroyed people of Prophet Lut, upon him be peace! So that's the widely accepted view on women's rights and freedom that is plaguing the world "like an epidemic, which we (the feminists) started, and now we want to stop it, but we can't." (per the words of a former feminist leader, who now holds a professorship in Economics at Wellesley College, U.S.A ). This admittedly mistaken viewpoint is what the West is seeking to impose on everyone, including the Afghans. Anyone who does not adhere to it is automatically labeled an oppressor in their jargon.
The effects of the Western ideology of 'liberation' can be clearly seen in various roles taken on by the women making their natural roles of being a wife and a mother, suffer greatly in their pursuit to imitate the man. The number of marriages continue to decrease while number of divorces escalate along with premarital relationships resulting in increase of illegitimate children and less number of children per family. More women are being employed, but the number of single parent families are also increasing. Rukaiyah Hill, in her book Women's Ideal Liberation: Islamic verses Western Understanding, clearly points out that "true religion has always put the family as the most important element of man's existence. It is supposed to be where one finds comfort and companionship and where the beauty of procreation through the lives of one's own children unfolds before his eyes. According to Islam, the woman, as mother, is a builder of nations. But today, in most parts of the world, mothers are replaced by the public education system and daycare centers. People other than the family members are taking care of the children. The morals of Western society have been dispersed. The values people blindly cling to are a series of mixed messages and contradictions. For example, in Western culture where pornography is a legal multimillion dollar empire, it is no longer considered wrong or exploitative. The "new wave thinking" is that the posing of nude women is okay because they are consenting adults." She continues to explain that "women have been greatly affected by the path Western civilization has taken them. Especially beautiful women - they are no longer human beings but rather toys to look at, admire and use. As objects of desire, men value women mostly in terms of sexual conquest and gratification. The beautiful actress, the super model, or the victim of a date rape on college campuses or on the battlefield is no longer human beings with feelings. They are instead, a means of momentary fulfillment, visual delight and nothing more than a beautiful creature strolling down the public sidewalk or fashion runway. If women can be successfully stripped of their human identity, dignity and self-respect, then they can be more easily abused and manipulated. If their modesty and sense of morality can be diminished, they are easier targets to molest and sexual assault."
If only women were to wake up and recognize the reality, then most of the institutions that promote their products through objectification of women, will suffer severely. No longer will the modeling agencies be able to sell bodies, and no longer will beauty pageants, female pornography purveyors and prostitution rings be a plague of the society. The 'liberation' experienced by the Western women as their bodies are exposed on billboards, magazines, television commercials selling everything from cars to batteries, requires a heavy ransom to pay by the 'liberated' woman. Aside from being reduced to a mere object with no respect and dignity, depression, suicide, eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia, and substance abuse among women have increased. Yet, the vicious cycle of independency and freedom continues as the women try to gain their equality and recognition, while hardships, depression and helplessness become their life-long companions. It is as though their lives are like a large balloon, colorful on the outside for the world to see, but hollow and empty inside.
It was partly for resisting the West's subjective and ever-changing definitions and views on women's rights, that the Taliban were criticized left and right, and according to some, deserved to be ousted. So the "champions of women's rights," America and Britain, sought to "liberate" the Afghan women from the Taliban and Islam's "barbaric" laws and impose their own version of liberation.
The section, Taliban vs. American 'Liberation' in Afghanistan mentions a brief account of the �freedom� that the Americans have brought the Afghan women, compared with what the Taliban had given them.