Pretentiously Profound – Just Saying : #5

For what are ‘Pretentious Profundities’ and the list till now, look here.

Step 1 : Experiences and Power spark Observations.

Step 2 : Observations accumulate to form Theory.

Step 3 : Theory grows & expands, embraces & engulfs, to become Philosophy.

Step 4 : Philosophy lets go of ego, pulls in closer, listens,  and dissolves into Experience and Power.

Step 5 : Go to Step 1.

And thus goes everything..

Cyclically – around and back..

Theology, Science, Monarchy, Democracy, Patriarchy,  Order.. and what not?

So does Feminism – and why not?

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Misogyny, What?

Edited to add : If you find parts, or all of this post impossible/difficult to understand, do let me know – with frank pointers to what, and why.

Everyday feminism (today) revolves around debunking misogynistic behavior, attitudes and subtext. Laws might be fighting patriarchy, but the feisty feminist on the street, in the office, at home, on the park bench, is definitely fighting misogyny – primarily.

And, Misogyny = “hatred or dislike of women or girls”?

Umm.. I have a problem right there.

Have you tried introducing anybody, especially a man, to feminism via misogyny?

The typical response would be “Oh nooo! I lovvvve women! [sheepish grin]”. And an honest response, that would be. Today, the average decent man does love and cherish the women in his life. So does the average decent woman. As does the average decent human being. And yet, the average decent human being has misogyny built-in.

Rather than ‘educating’ people and ‘opening’ their eyes to the cruel face and ways of misogyny, let us give some thought to this “misogyny”, shall we?

For me, “hatred towards women” isn’t elegant enough an explanation for all the sub-problems of the patriarchy-misogyny spider-web.

It doesn’t explain why ‘masculine’ women aren’t welcomed as ‘better than average woman’, why ‘feminine’ men are ridiculed despite being men –  why anybody outside the heteronormative* order and the gender binary* is either in the closet or an outcast.

Yes, yes.. feminist theory does explain all that in its own characteristic convoluted way. The misogynists don’t like ‘masculine’ women because they think they are imposters. They don’t like ‘feminine’ men because they let ‘real’ men down. And they hate every other gender/sexual ‘freak’ because? Err.. I don’t know! Definitely something  convoluted that comes back to hating women.

Big  words, thoroughly tangled up thought arcs – sound too complicated, right? Exactly my feelings!

Now consider this – same concept, minus specificity to women : “hatred of the feminine and hence, of  misplaced, missing, and flaunted femininity”.

With that..

Why is the feminine demure woman trod upon, as a tradition? Hatred of the feminine.

Why is alleging that a man plays “like a girl” is an insult? Hatred of misplaced femininity.

Why is the masculine woman either a witch or a bitch? Hatred of missing femininity.

Why  is the effeminate man weak and the one bringing down the standards of manhood? Misplaced femininity again.

Why is the sexy woman a slut? Hatred of flaunted femininity.

Why is the nerdy woman better than the dumb blonde when it comes to work? The ‘dumb blonde’s’ femininity.

Why is the nerdy women worse than the dumb blonde when it comes to attraction? The ‘nerdy’ woman’s missing femininity.

Men no cry? Crying is feminine.

Women no strong opinions? Opinions no feminine.

Tom-boys and Drag-queens? Ha ha.. confused freaks! What are they?

The femininity based definition explains why cisgender* trumps transgender and transgender isn’t “real”. Even homophobia to an extent – because feminine should attract masculine and vice versa, and any other combination of attraction messes up with the femininity of the female and the masculinity of the male.

In short, when behavior – gender and/or sexual – is ‘unnatural’, it isn’t clear whether the female is appropriately feminine and the male respectfully masculine. We don’t like confusion now, do we?

Funnily, it also explains why a good number of feminists are so uncomfortable with femininity and decry all feminine behavior and attire as anti-feminist-cause. Yes, they are misogynists themselves – according to my definition, at least! I can’t but wonder if all those feminists who embrace and advocate androgyny vehemently are really comfortable with the female body and sexuality! While androgyny can be a choice, it can not be the norm – that would simply be a new edition of misogyny.

Now, please do resist from pouncing on me that all of feminine behavior and attire is ‘learnt’, ‘to please’, ‘to attract – sexually’, ‘to objectify’ and ‘to subjugate’. I don’t buy the argument that feminine behavior is social and ‘learnt’ and ‘taught’.

a) It could not have been ‘discovered’ by some brilliant oppressor and thrust upon women – not without it having existed naturally in some measure in human behavior.

b) The argument definitely doesn’t explain the existence of people outside the gender binary – if femininity isn’t real, cross-dressers are perverts – which is just as discriminatory as “women are inherently weaker” and “black/dalit people are just not evolved enough to be thinkers”.

Do I mean to say that pink is ‘genetically’ feminine and blue ‘genetically’ masculine? Haha.. No – I know the difference between marketing strategy and innate behavior. Most of the behavior considered feminine today IS probably just social conditioning and somebody setting trends (history would tell you that men too wore high heels, and kings too wore jewellery).

Let us just say that feminine behavior is the stuff that is innately feminine along with the urge to adhere to the female gender-role stuff that comes from social conditioning.

As with any behavioral trait, femininity is merely a spectrum. And where one is placed or places oneself on that spectrum is nobody’s business. Yes, not even a ‘well-meaning’ feminist’s business!

Disassociating women from ‘misogyny’ automatically disassociates ‘femininity’ from women. Shifts focus to the concept from the (traditional) representative.

So, rather than focusing on women’s issues and the hatred for women, isn’t it time that feminism evolved and focused on femininity and everybody struggling against gender stereotypes and sexual norms?

Yes, yes.. I do realize that I sound too vague with that question – explanatory post coming up.

P.S. : This post is an idea – a spark for the brainstorming table. I’m sure this conjecture has flaws, even serious ones. Questions and debates are very much welcome. However, if I detect patronizing tones, be ready to be pounced upon viciously. I’m in the mood to bite and tear apart.

* I promise : With that, I am done indulging my urge to show off all the scary academic words that I have learnt from my nerdy reading of feminist theory. Well.. not entirely done.. just one more post for this? Please, please?

Edited to add : If you find parts, or all of this post impossible/difficult to understand, do let me know – with frank pointers to what, and why.

We Turn Away, it Goes Away?

I have been reading up quite a bit on Chronic Illness, Chronic Pain, and Depression lately.

Guess what surprised me most in these readings?

Feminism!

Even me – even feminism-for-bedside-reading-gender-lit-for-pleasure-reading me – did not expect to find feminism’s long pointy nose poking into, of all places,  Chronic Illness and Depression!

Naive me!

Apparently, not too long ago, women complaining of chronic pain, invisible chronic illness and clinical depression were told to grow up, get a life, and stop imagining/faking it. Also apparently, the ‘hysteria’ rhetoric and our beloved Freud had a lot to do with this. Whether fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome and their sisters are real, has been a long-winded debate.

It so happens that women are more likely to ‘complain’ of chronic pain, chronic illness or depression than men.

The Freud-ish clan held that this is because women are weak – physically, emotionally, intellectually, morally, magically. That they either fake it, or imagine it because they crave attention and to avoid all their womanly household duties. So, the all strong feminist women of a foregone era fought this, mocked them, and made them shut up and keep their stupid theories to themselves.

Some sociologists believe that the higher incidence of chronic illness & depression among women is purely/mostly sociological. Women are oppressed more, they experience more stress & barely any avenues of stress release, and you can’t blame them for falling mysteriously sick more. Also, men just don’t admit to experiencing pain – physical or emotional – because it is not ‘masculine’ to admit to ‘weakness’. Well, yeah, makes sense, and feminists smile and nod along to this explanation.

Then there are a few biology folks who think this might be because women are biologically, genetically, mysteriously more prone to such things – blame hormones, neural wiring, and such like. Well, who knows?

Now, the feminists would have none of this “biologically inclined” stuff. They hate to even listen to this angle because it only validates the age-old belief that women are inherently weaker than men – intrinsically, biologically, neurologically, by the design of God. Obviously, patriarchy would jump at this to justify all prejudices and injustice against women. Fine.. that makes sense too.

But, what if? What if, for a minute and with a heavy heart, we assume that the biologists are correct, and that women are more prone to certain ailments? Just a big bold IF.

So what?

So freaking what if biology makes women different from men in some painful ways?

Nobody does, and nobody needs to, give a damn about the Freud-ish lunatics – one stays away from their toxic selves, and if possible, throws a heavy paper-weight on their balding heads. Been there, unfortunately not done that – yet.

The sociologists and their friends – they can yap away all they want, and their wonderful theories would do zilch for my pain. By the way, the latest addition to their list of theories is : “You IT-type new-gen kids.. Bad lifestyle.. Very bad! You sit in front of computers all day, and bug us with your pains!”. Truth be told, their theories make one feel slightly guilty, slightly ‘morally’ weak, slightly more depressed, until one finally realizes that whether or not they are right, they are no help!

Personally, I’d jump at the chance of anyone taking chronic pain as a ‘women’s issue’ and researching it from a ‘women-specific’ angle! How delightful it would be to finally see some action on that front – action not involving opiates and friends, and tri-cyclic antidepressants and friends. Even, if at the end, it turns out not to be a ‘women’s issue’, which it most probably would!

Aren’t “feminists” simply hurting women more by refusing to look at this angle?

Plus, is illness a ‘weakness’?

Anybody with chronic illness knows that it doesn’t make them ‘weak’. If anything, it makes them emotionally stronger – at least, most of them.

People with chronic illness or clinical depression simply need specially tailored lifestyles and flexible work opportunities to be as productive and as happy as the ‘healthy’. Along with medical help, of course.

If the ability and art of coping with daily difficulties and making the maximum of life isn’t strength, I don’t know what is.

Chronic illness and Depression are just examples of the “Turning Away” that some mainstream feminists tend to do. There would be many more which come under this “social vs biological” debate. The concept of  ‘feminine behavior’ being another big sore point.

The argument being “Keep it simple and clean – we are in the middle of war..  Murky waters aren’t good battlefields!”

But hey, turning away from some bitter truths doesn’t make them go away, does it?

Word Muse #5 – பாவை

For what are ‘Word Muses’ and the list till now, look here.

 

Request : Please forgive spelling mistakes if any. I am largely out of touch with the written form of any language except English and Mathematics!  Free spell-checks and corrections hugely appreciated [sheepish grin].

 

பாவை விளக்கு

 

பெயரில்லாத பாவை விளக்கவள்.
தேயத் தேய ஒளிரும் தேகத்தவள்.
இடை ஒடித்து இதழ் குவித்து,
தீபம் ஏந்தி நிதம் நிற்ப்பவள்.

 

நேற்று கவிதாவின் மண மேடையில்,
இன்று செல்வியின் மஞ்சள் நீராட்டு விழாவில்,
நாளை குழலியின் வளைகாப்பு கலகலப்பில்.
என்றும் உள்ளங்கையின் சுடு காயம் மறந்து,
வலி மறைத்து மெலிதாய் சிரிக்கப் பழகியவள்.

 

அவர்களும் இவள் இனம் தானோ?
பேசவும் தெரிந்த, பேசாதிருக்கவும் தெரிந்த
குடும்ப விளக்காக செதுக்கப்பட்ட உயிர்க் கற்க்கள்.

 

பாவை இவளுக்கு ஓய்வு – திரி சுருங்க.
பாவம் அவர்களுக்கு ஓய்வு – உயிர் சுருங்கவும் உண்டோ..
சுயமும் ஸ்வரமும் உயர்த்திப்  பேசாதிருக்கும் வரை?

 

 

Transliteration :

 

Paavai ViLakku

 

peyarillaadha paavai viLakkavaL.
thEyath thEya oLirum dhEgaththavaL.
idai odiththu, idhazh kuviththu,
dheepam Endhi nidham niRppavaL.

 

nEtru kavithaa-vin maNa mEdaiyil,
indru selvi-yin manjaL neerAttu vizhaavil,
naaLai kuzhali-yin vaLaikaappu kalakalappil.
endrum uLLangkaiyyin sudu kaayam marandhu
vali maraiththu melidhaai sirikkap pazhagiyavaL.

 

avargaLum ivaL inam dhaanO?
pEsavum therindha pEsaadhirukkavum therindha
kudumba viLakkugaLaai sedhukkappatta uyirkkarkaL.

 

paavai ivaLukku Oiyvu thiri surunga.
paavam avargaLukku Oiyvu uyir surungavum undo..
suyamum swaramum uyarththip pEsaadhirukkum varai?

 

Wait a sec..

So, this country doesn’t offer safe roads and public spaces for women.

Fine.

Does it, for men?

Last I checked – men get mugged, robbed, murdered, run down by imported cars on the roads of this country.

If women get raped, men get beat up and shot at – even in bright day-light, right on the road.. road rage, anyone?

If it is an inhuman violation to rape a woman, and it makes our hearts go out to her.. It is just as inhuman a violation to strip and beat up a man? Hearts don’t go out to him?

And men get just as harassed by the police as women do.

Plus, the judiciary is impartial – it delays and denies justice to men and women, alike.

Did all that change while I was in hibernation? Or am I missing something?

Oh wait.. so, is the difference that homosexuality is still a concept of the hidden minority in this country and men don’t get bundled up into a vehicle and gang-raped?

Oh no, oh no, oh no… It is about ‘honour’! It is about ‘polluting’ the women of this country – the property of the honorable, culture-abiding families of this country!

I’m soooooo sorry I took so long to get that simple point. Really, I’m terribly sorry for being such a dumb-head.. I really am!

P.S. : Now, please don’t remind me of female foeticide and dowry killings – I’m really tired of listening to that at every mention of ‘Indian women’. I’m only talking about problems that pepper spray, self-defense classes and random mobile apps for ‘safety’ allegedly solve!