My best friend, after all these years, asked me startled – “Since when did you start reading feminist lit? Are you becoming a feminist now?”.
When I said “I am not becoming one.. I am one”, pat came the response “You are? Really?“.
A few months back, I would not have cared to ask why he reacted that way, what he thought was the problem with feminism. I’d have simply told myself “I have no NEED to explain myself or my beliefs. It is the others’ headache to find out and understand”. But I have realized that isn’t optimal. People are exposed to different ideas, people develop different beliefs. Explaining my stand to them in a logical way can’t take much of my time.. It might just make them see my view of it.. Or lead to a healthy discussion and give me some insights. So here goes.. All those skeptics out there, who happen to read this accidentally, this is a formal invitation to “come, attack!”.
His hesitation towards the feminist tag was not because he thought feminists were mean, angry, dominating, bra-burning, unattractive man-haters. Most educated people do not have those clichéd, dumb ideas about feminism. His hesitation came from wondering why feminism was more important than animal rights, human rights, LGBT rights and activism against child-abuse, crime etc. Especially when the educated woman herself seems least interested in getting out of the rut and however much feminists shout from roof-tops, the society is still sexist and retarded. He ended up quoting my own self on the cynicism about the point of educating the Indian women!
Hmmm.. That hesitation does sound reasonable. Let us see..
Hey, it is very easy to counter that..
a) Feminism is not more important than the other issues.. It is AS important as the other issues. Plus, most often, strongly connected to other issues. There is enough man-power and mind-power in this society to address all issues simultaneously.
b) Education, especially the Indian style of it, does nothing towards instilling minds with self-confidence, awareness of one’s right, equality of all people in society etc. Sensitization does. And come on. . No shouting from roof-tops? Really? Given the size of the population we need to send the message to? Rrrrright. . Let us sing feminism in hindustani music – that should be enough!
c) Yes, I raise cynical questions about the point of educating the Indian woman.. But that is not to raise doubts about the point of feminism or according equal opportunities to women, but to provoke the educated Indian woman to question her own refusal to stand up for herself.
d) Yes, society is still sexist. But not AS sexist as before activism for gender equality!
There! Feminism may appear to be out of fashion.. But it isn’t passe or pointless.
It will not be.. For a long time to come.. Because change is slow.. Very slow. How slow? As slow as mysterious evolution – generation by generation.
Are we good?
Ok. . So, I indulged in some professor-ly hand-waving off for the last point. Let me kick off that laziness.
How does feminism work then, if it does work mysteriously as I claim?
Lemme go fetch Charles Darwin to help me with this one.
Think Darwin’s theory of evolution..
Think Natural selection..
Think the female selecting the most promising sperm donor to make out with..
Think survival of the fittest.
Now, you understand natural selection. And that the female selecting the mate is human here.
Let us say the population started at total retard state, full of patriarchy & oppression of the “fairer sex”, where the female had no role in mate selection – the mate was forced upon her.. or the female selected mates on the basis of raw alpha-male behavior – finance, social standing, excellence in territorial aka MCP behavior.
Now bring in mutations – of the genre of feminist ideas.
Default set of negative mutations : “Tradition will get lost. Lock up girls.”, “Too much freedom for women would make them all sluts”, “Women are out to make slaves of men. Tie them up quick”, “Dowry”, “Female infanticide”, “Log kya kahenge”, “A woman sans marriage is doomed” etc.
Now these are the negative mutations that occur throughout.. Only to be won over by the positive ones by the survival of the fittest.
Initial mutations : School for girls, Marriage for girls after 14-15 years of age, Wearing a blouse with the sari, Equal legal rights by constitution.
Dramatic ones – happen fast, with great struggle though. Thanks to our constitution putting us on speed track on this one. These are unbelievably strong traits and get strengthened and get passed on to the next generation.
Mutation Set #2 : Basic college education for girls, Women go out of home a bit, Friendships are allowed – mostly with the same sex, Import of ‘non-traditional’ fashion – still conservative, Marriage before the degree comes to hand.
Strong ones these too. Parents of girls want to “donate” (kanyadaan) their girls to people only to men who would educate their girl children – some sort of selection of mate at work.
Mutation Set #3 : Simple employment for women, More movement outside home, Friendship circles widened – mostly because co-eds and working with men is inevitable, ‘Modest’ western wear – until puberty/marriage of course, Marriage very soon after college, Encourage women to think and have an opinion – though they can’t be voiced out.
The female now does choose her mate to an extent. She actively strives for her off-springs to get better, much better than her.
Mutation Set #4 : Higher education & competitive jobs for women. Much more autonomy outside the home and in socializing. Financial independence to a good extent. Modern fashion acceptable to a large extent. “Marriageable age” bar goes higher. Women have opinions and mostly voice them – some are received. Women aware of their own rights and sexuality.
Female wants full autonomy on choosing her mate and when to breed. She brings her children – male & female – up equally and sensitizes them on gender equality. She knows that her opinions need to be voiced. She wants that her off-springs opinions are stronger and much more heard and accepted.
At this point, the “ideal” hasn’t been achieved. We are still at the chimpanzee or bonobo stage. Transition to Homo erectus is more tricky than the past transitions – simply because the changes are subtler and the negative mutations set sometimes emerges stronger than the positive ones.
We are at this critical juncture now. Semi-liberal “cat on the wall” women – liberal only in expression but not in belief.
These are the women who are a threat to the very idea of feminism simply by their confused existence. They behave neither old-world nor modern. They want education, power, competitive jobs, respect, special perks etc, but would not stand up for themselves the moment they face opposition from family and society. They would go for divorce to come out of an unhappy marriage, but torture themselves over their life being incomplete without a husband. They would fall in love, think nothing wrong of pre-marital sex, but on the event of a break-up, they’d ask themselves in horror “Who would marry me now?” and even take the extreme step of killing themselves. They wallow in self-pity with “I am a woman after all. . in this man’s world – I am a victim!” though she has the power to rise up and refuse to be a victim.
Till now, the mutations included major attitude changes in men and major power struggles between men and women. The battle now has moved to an inner space – within women’s mind – their conditioning Vs their potential.
In short, we are at a point where more shouting of feminist ideas from roof-tops – this time with loud-speakers is needed. . More than ever. One round may have kick-started the evolutionary chain. . We need one more to sustain it. . to assure women that all is not in vain, that there is some more evolving to be done, that they are right to expect complete freedom in spite of what society tells them, that they should not give up now!
We need a last set of mutations to take place : Full liberalism – in thought, in action, in all aspects + Drowning of all the pesky negative mutations.
We need to shout from roof-tops.
Plus, not all the population is experiencing Mutation set #4. There is a huge chunk that is yet to undergo the initial kick-starting set of mutations. Many more chunks at various intermediate stages. Feminism needs to be around for a long long time to come. . It’s job is neither done yet nor rendered futile yet.
So, please – let us climb our roofs and shout. Louder..
Hey there. . stop sniggering. I know you are mocking me – asking how blogging is equivalent to shouting from roof-tops. Blogging now increases awareness and provokes thought in a small population. This population will transmit the changes to a larger population and so on. Plus, blogging polishes ones own thoughts – makes it easier to spread the word in “real life”, in person. Stop mocking. Boo! 😛
So, where was I??
So, please – let us climb our roofs and shout. Louder, more often, with more gusto and passion.