The White Savior Complex vs. Respecting Cultures

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A large side effect of Americans attempting to participate in helping fellow countries around the world is the “White Savior Complex.” This concept is the idea of white Americans believing they have the best, most modern ideologies/culture, while the rest of the world is lagging behind. They believe they can modify cultures and nations in order for them to keep up; however, what really is happening is they are imposing their perfectly valid beliefs on others, who also have perfectly valid beliefs.

Regarding transnationalism among feminism, it is vital for everyone to recognize cultures are all valid and unique in order to connect with one another and work together towards the end goal: equality among genders.

A prime example of this complex is a white educator eager to teach at an inner-city school in order to provide them a new perspective and give them hope for a better life. While this teacher has good intentions, he/she is managing to victimize people of color in the process. They are assuming any person who is not living with the same background as them are in need for saving.

A second example of this complex is the debate surrounding the hijab/burqa. Many Europeans believe women wearing hijabs and burqas are oppressed due to the fact that they are remaining modest. France has even outlawed wearing these garments. But for what purpose? These garments are simply part of some women’s culture, just as wearing t-shirts are for other women. The idea that they are oppressed and suffering is a made up fantasy by whites, in order to give them the opportunity to “save” these women.

In the picture provided above, Angelina Jolie is visiting Pakistan after a devastating flood hits the country. The entire trip, she wore appropriate attire in their culture and never once suggested they try her typical clothing. She did not wear makeup and did not attract attention to herself, just like any other woman in Pakistan. The idea of respecting all cultures rather than altering it is something many fail to acknowledge.

This is not saying some laws and occurrences in other countries are not unacceptable, such as the Marry Your Rapist law. What I am saying is the way white people are going about trying to help these women wrongly. Cultures are all different and being imposed upon is doing the opposite of helping. Therefore, the white savior complex must be recognized and reevaluated in order to properly travel to other countries and provide help for fellow women.

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