Some women celebs are more equal than others
Amena Khan is a beauty blogger. She has almost 400,000 subscribers on YouTube.
By Rajnaara C Akhtar & Kate Wilkinson Cross
Published: Mon 29 Jan 2018, 8:00 PM
Last updated: Mon 29 Jan 2018, 10:40 PM
Both are female beauty icons, and both tweeted "problematic" tweets about the Gaza-Israel conflict in 2014. And that is where the similarity ends.
Wonder Woman actress Gal Gadot hardly needs an introduction. She's a brand ambassador for Revlon and the face of Gucci Bamboo fragrance. She has a strong social media presence, with 15.9 million followers on Instagram and 1.62 million followers on Twitter.
Amena Khan is a beauty blogger. She has almost 400,000 subscribers on YouTube and her videos have been viewed hundreds of thousands of times. Her Instagram presence is even more impressive, with 577,000 followers, and she has become a fashion icon for hijab-wearing women. She shot to international fame when she first appeared in a L'Oreal advert for their signature True Match foundation. Her most recent campaign saw her appear in a L'Oreal shampoo advert in her hijab, in what was described as a "game-changing" campaign. So far so good.
But following the emergence of several tweets posted by Khan condemning Israel's military action in Gaza in 2014, the beauty icon has been accused of being anti-Israel and she quickly resigned from the campaign. Her carefully drafted resignation statement was clearly intended to swiftly but respectfully distance her comments from the L'Oreal inclusivity campaign. But some have questioned why that relationship ended - and who really ended it.
Gadot also tweeted during the same 2014 military assault on Gaza in support of the Israeli army, in which she once served. Gadot has not faced similar censure, despite the fact that the United Nations Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza conflict found that the conduct of both parties amounted to violating multiple international laws.
When Gadot's tweets emerged, she was accused of supporting the killing of civilians - and the Wonder Woman film was widely boycotted in countries such as Lebanon, Jordan and Tunisia. But Gadot did not feel pressure to resign from any beauty campaigns for her political views.
Feminism is a broad concept and encompasses many schools of thought. In today's modern and global society, there is a need to take an intersectional approach.
Such an approach acknowledges that not all women are the same and not all women suffer from the same discriminations. A White upper-middle class woman is not going to face the same discriminations as a Black working-class woman, for example. The White middle-class woman may face discrimination through unequal pay for equal labour as compared with men. But the Black working-class woman may face the same issue, while also facing racist discrimination, which may result in her not even being interviewed for the job to begin with. Despite both being women, they are not treated in the same way.
Each woman has a number of characteristics, which intersect, and in some cases may lead to greater discrimination.
The difference in treatment experienced by Khan and Gadot in response to their opposite positions on a political issue suggests the same.
Gadot is a beautiful White woman. Khan is a beautiful Asian Muslim woman who wears the hijab. Research shows that Muslim women face significant discrimination. The unemployment rate for Muslims in the UK is more than double that of any other group, and hijab wearing Muslim women in particular experience greater discrimination - 65 per cent of unemployed Muslims are women. So L'Oreal's inclusivity campaign was much needed.
For such women, the characteristics of being female, non-White and Muslim intersect to lead to added discrimination compared with that faced by White women on the whole. This is not recognised by the law. Yet the far-reaching consequences of this can be seen starkly in the treatment faced by Amena Khan and Gal Gadot. Khan's quick exit from the L'Oreal campaign suggests that she is not entitled to hold a political view on the war in Gaza in 2014. Gadot, on the other hand, faced no such repercussions for airing her views, suggesting she is entitled.
Is it that this group does not share some or all of Khan's character traits: being Muslim, an Asian, and a mother? These are traits, which are fundamental to her identity and no doubt influence her opinions and life choices - just as having pets and commuting to work would have an impact on a woman's views on animal cruelty, train fares and equal pay. Both views are valid and valuable. It seems clear that neither Gadot nor Khan can be accused of being extreme, and both are entitled to their views. But only one has felt the need to resign as a result.