Through a comparaison with Malala Yusafzai, the authors aim to undertsand the campaign of demonisation and decredibilisation specifically targeted at another young activist, Greta Thunberg. First, the nature of their messages is different: the education of women is not a challenge for the western status quo. Meanwhile, Greta poses a systemic change, which is inherently conflicting. Secondly, the form of the messages is different, while Malala has been reduced by some to a girl who inherently needs to be saved. Greta advocates for actions, she uses her anger and refuses to be reduced to the role of passive victim. Thus, Malala is accepted as a fetishized object, consolidating the narrative of European liberal progress and satisfying the Western Savior complex while Greta receives insults because she poses a double challenge to hegemonic discourses regarding the climate crisis, both in nature and in form.
As people who grew up as a political activists, we deeply respect what Malala Yousafzai and Greta Thunberg have done to raise awareness among the youth and the not so young. They became important, global voices. They both carried the burden of becoming poster child. Yet, despite both being girls of approximate the same age, willing to come forward and deliver a message to a global audience, Malala never suffered the level of misogyny, decredibilisation and hate experienced by Greta. Continue reading