I feel the whole aggressive kind of feminism that peaked in the 1980s, and is still around, was actually created by a man. But I’m going ahead of myself. Let me start with a story you probably already know. There was a genie who said, “Give me work to do, Master, or I will eat you up.” The Master gave him behemoth tasks but the genie completed them within hours. That’s when the clever Master gave the genie a pole, asked him to erect it and go up and down it all day.
Come to think of it, when we encounter energy or power that is so immense that it can destroy us unless we keep it reigned in, this is what we ultimately do with it. For kids, we give them slates and whiteboards to write and wipe, for youth we give them ghosts like feudalism and sexism, to battle on social media or in marches. Yes, these are ghosts they fight because the ‘rebels’ go neither to the root of the issue, nor of their own reaction to the situation. How can you fight effectively when you don’t understand yourself, and how you react to situations? Your own ideas or mistrust add fuel to fire. You must first weed out from the problem the part that was created by you. Then you will see the situation for what it is. Then you will find the issues that need to be fought, where not only your anger but also your talent is best used.
If I call you stupid, and you are a guy, your self-talk might be: Wow, what an ass, she thinks I’m stupid.
A guy calls a girl stupid and her self-talk probably is: Wow, what an ass, he thinks girls are stupid. It is because of men like him that girls don’t get ahead in life. Even my father was such a man and because of him I am nowhere as successful as the men I know. This world is so screwed up, I must do something about this. I can’t let overbearing men like him get away with it. I owe it to womenkind to teach him a lesson. I can’t show my gentle side. I must act and talk tough at all times… You get the drift, the fuel and the fire.
And I know for a fact that this gender difference is not something that occurs naturally just because men and women brains are different in structure or physiology. This comes about because many women are always on the lookout for sexism, and injustice in the world. We are ‘primed’ so everything triggers us. We see every remark, action and intention in a gendered way. We see suppression even where none exists. Our ‘stree shakti’ has been deflected through this type of feminism.
We have shortchanged our anger. We take out marches because a female reporter was asked not to enter the White House in an off-shoulder dress. I bet a man in an off-shoulder dress would not be allowed entry either – it is about the dress-code not about repressing women’s rights. But we are happy to fight our ghost and let someone else spearhead negotiations on national borders, international security, environmental pacts, pollution standards, definition of science, and technology debates. These are areas where our perspective and talents would add tremendous value. We could truly make the Earth a much nicer planet if we all got involved.
Instead, in the name of feminism, I was recently sent a video of a girl fighting her parents’ “patriarchal” attitude when they disapprove of her ‘right’ to become a pornstar. Portrayed as the epitome of a woman’s freedom to choose, or her right over her body, the protagonist (female) actually says that a woman’s most powerful weapon is her sexuality. In this case I pray the dialogues were written by a man. I hope no woman thinks in this reductionist way.
My kind of Feminism
My daughter saw a ‘Beti bachao, beti padhao’ (save the girl child, educate the girl child) ad painted on a wall and asked, why only beti (daughter), why not also beta (son) bachao? This is my kind of feminism. Equality is built into the mindset. Seen another way, it is a gender-less, or at least, less gendered view of the world. Take a look at this picture of ‘dahi-handi’ celebration in my society. I love it! The girls don’t even know that breaking the handi is a guy-thing. Attempting to break the dahi-handi is fun, it is challenging, so they are participating! Since being a girl is no handicap at all, this is not a ‘girl only’ handi celebration either. These aren’t boys and girls, they are kids being ‘govindas’ and rising up to the challenge of breaking a handi and enjoying the fruits of their labour.
Neither does this kid feel she must shun traditionally female clothes to earn respect. She sees the world in a less gendered way even while she looks ‘girly’. Wearing bindi doesn’t make her feel powerless. She doesn’t see elaborate jewellery as the society’s ploy to steal her freedom of movement and suppress her. in fact, the word ‘girly’ has no negative connotation at all.
I believe that I don’t have to hate Pakistanis to prove my love and respect for India; I don’t have to hate men or be a ‘feminist’ to be proud and happy being a woman. I believe that all genders must equally participate for our planet, and our nation, our community and home. We bring our unique talents. If we all bring our shoulder to the load doing what we do best, our family, society and this world will be even more wonderful!Like