Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Why Feminism is everyone's job

Spicy Saturday pick for 8th March

 Debates and outrages have been expressed for and against the 'feminism' wave that has been doing the rounds. And yet, if you go around asking people the meaning of feminism, you get answers that make you cringe.

Some definitions by 'educated' men and women:

  • "Feminism is where women want to be men" - accompanied by a smirk
  • "When women do not want to do any housework, or take any responsibility, its called feminism"
  • "When they want to party all night like the boys" - this came from a so-called liberal lady in an urban household
  • "Feminism is anything that tells the women that our culture is bad."
The dictionary says that Feminism is a collection of movements and ideologies aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights for women - not more, not less.

A corollary here - is feminism only a woman's prerogative? Is patriarchy only a woman's problem? I am guessing most of us, even the feminists among us, think it is. Unknowingly, we slight this very important revolution by assuming it is a woman's issue. Truth is, our patriarchal views don't seem to be subsiding in any way because we seem to think that this societal movement is only relevant to about 50% of the world's population (even lower if you take only India into consideration).

Because if words like 'equality' and 'equal opportunity' and 'freedom' are meant to be war cries of only half the people (who are unaware, sometimes unwilling at that) crusading for this, it will never work.

Thousands of debates - big and small, friendly and ugly, thought evoking and absolute bullsh*t - come to my mind right now. All discussions speak of how men 'ought to' be some way or do something because they are 'considerate' to the womenfolk.

We all know what patriarchy has done to the women of our land:
  • the girl child is considered 'paraya dhan' and is raised thus
  • dowry and marriage is the prime worry the moment a girl is born
  • lets not even talk about dowry deaths, maternity deaths and child marriages
  • unequal distribution o wealth and opportunities
  • denied education or higher education
  • pressures to 'adjust' to marriage and married life
  • decisions on what to wear, where to live, who to live with are all taken by others
..... and the list goes on. I am not including here the macro issues like the rape psychology or domestic violence, which have their roots in patriarchy.

But does it affect the men? Let me rephrase that - does it really do no harm to the 'privileged' menfolk in our society? A few questions that perhaps the men may be able to answer
  • If the men were not raised with the pressure of being the 'provider' would they have pursued their passions more often?
  • If boys were not told that tears or emotions or vulnerability are a sign of being a 'wimp' or a 'sissy' would they have made better friends, spouses and parents; not to mention better citizens?
  • In the urban world today, wouldn't it be easier for men to find partners who they can connect with if there were no patriarchal rules to follow - for them and the women around them?
  • If traditional roles did not dictate who pursues ballet and who plays rugby, wouldn't many men benefit too?
  • Wouldn't there be fathers who want to spend more time with their children while their equal partners pitch in to be the bread-winner?
  • Wouldn't men themselves want to live in a society with added economic productivity and reduced violence? 
What we fail to realize as a society is that patriarchy did have a role to play in civilizations that were still evolving; perhaps in the nascent stages of these civilizations, physical strength was the only measure to decide who was superior; just like skin color was deemed to be the deciding factor in some societies. And didn't human race, as a unit, rebel against slavery, apartheid and caste systems? Why then, is the cause of feminism any different?

Today, defining roles, or confining certain roles or following different rules, based on people's genitals is just as silly as deciding to get treatment from a doctor depending on their hair color!!

And that, is the true meaning of feminism.

*let me tell you where this rant begins from - it has to do with the exasperating questions that 'educated' people have been asking me about refusing to differentiate between my son and my daughter. For them -
NO, I will not tell my daughter that dolls are more becoming of her than her brother's cricket bat.
NO, I will not expect my son to 'protect' his sister - because if the need arises, she will have access to her own brains, and be able to kick a** just as he would.
NO, I will not expect my daughter to rush in with a duster to wipe off spilt water - unless my son learns to do it too.
NO, I will not tell the kids that the Armed forces is a good career option for my son, and Teaching is the best option for my daughter.


  1. Agree so completely with the fine print that I had to write it here. The stereotyping begins right at birth, wearing colours that are more "girly" or "manly".
    Best wishes.

  2. Absolutely Nilanjana .... sometimes unconsciously, we all contribute to gender stereotyping. Thanks for coming by.

  3. This post has been selected for the Spicy Saturday Picks this week. Thank You for an amazing post! Cheers! Keep Blogging :)

  4. Its a hard truth put forward by you !!! Nice one...

  5. well you said it all ..

    and congrats on the pick of the blogs :)


  6. Unerring. Please write more because you have a secret fire burning inside of you and the only way that you can fan the flames is by sharing your thoughts with someone else.