I have been reading a few very interesting posts (specifically, this and this) focusing on women rights and feminism. So, here’s the deal. I had stopped writing about feminism long back (I think this was the last post) because everyone’s idea of feminism is personal, unfortunately. I say “unfortunately”, because as passionate as we all are about the cause, we define our limits of what is feminism according to us, and somewhere one person’s independence becomes another’s scandalization/inconvenience causing much mayhem and general loss of purpose. How? Consider this (and this is just a sample). For some, having the freedom of being able to dance the night away and getting home late pissed-drunk may be where it’s at. It clashes with the idea of feminism which may be “limited” to being able to work without getting irresponsible-mommy-jabs for another person. Not saying these are necessarily mutually exclusive, but could be. Hell breaks loose when the former starts believing that the latter is short-selling feminism as a concept. And the other believes that we need to start with more reasonable things.
In 99% of the cases, the former and the latter are women (data exclusively sourced from comment boxes of such ‘controversial’ posts). I think, in conclusion, we can safely drop the “man-hater” tag from the description of a feminist. Because essentially, she is a person seeking equality on her own terms, and for that, she is prepared to take on men as well as women. Trouble is, she wants it for others too but only on her own terms. Whatever happened to tolerance! This is why I call it “empathy in moderation”. We can relate with other women’s pain and issues, only so long as their needs don’t step on our toes.
Mothers will “allow” daughters to study, only as long as they don’t get the “wrong” idea that being settled in life means something other than marriage. Because anything else will be nothing short of blasphemy, and will counter the need to be seen as a perfect parent with settled kids.
Best friends will remain best buddies, only till one quits her job one fine day to stay with her kids and believes that her kids need her more than her work. Because of course, she must be judging the working mom for her choice.
Mothers-in-law love the daughters-in-law, only as long as she is doing a stellar job of keeping her opinions to herself.
Why is one woman’s desire to wear a skimpy skirt and not get groped, smaller than another’s to wear a sari? If not, why would it get a comment like “she called it upon herself” from another woman on getting molested?
Why is someone’s choice to work outside her home and let a maid share her responsibilities, inferior than someone else’s choice to stay home? Or vice versa?
Why is it that as educated, smart, feminist women, we can always feel all eyes on the back of our heads and feel this compulsive urge to stuff our definition of equality down someone else’s throat?
None of my thoughts have even ventured into the less privileged sections of women and their plight. Because the inequalities they face – no doubt way more shocking that what we ever would have to – are ironically, less hypocritical in nature. There’s no lip service or wordy justifications made by their oppressors in their defence. Arrogance, ignorance and hopeless insecurity, yes. But no disguised, going-round-in-circles fuzzy logic and exasperating, sugar-coated platitudes, that suck the energy out of us – the women of Bombay, Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai or Calcutta who are all striving for each other’s approval.
Does this mean we have to hold a huge conference and arrive at a common definition of feminism? Absolutely not. We just have to be able to look in the other direction, if we do not agree with someone else’s choice. Seems like it isn’t an easy thing to do.
Anyway, here are a few things I have observed in the last few days. These are instances that happen around me and to women like me. Do tell me if you have an opinion/story related to these:
1. Being the new-age wives we are, it’s increasingly become easier and more acceptable to say that you don’t like cooking or washing clothes or ironing or whatever. But if you end up saying “I hate all of these” to another woman, you WILL get tagged as lazy 😀 Like it’s just not possible that a woman can hate all kinds of housework!
2. You will often get told that a house becomes a home when there’s a girl in it. While that made me feel complimented for an embarrassingly long time, it’s such a reverent way of labelling you as the housekeeping department. Why don’t they say that a house becomes a home when a responsible couple stays there? Because that would mean that the housekeeping is joint, and that’s so not hawt!
3. “Ghar mein lakshmi aayi hai“. Why are we given the Durga and Lakshmi labels the moment we are born? Ofcourse, one reason could be the expectation that we will all grow ten arms and be super efficient at the solitary housekeeping. But often, there’s also a sense of compensation in that label. Why else would someone not say “Ganesh aaya hai” or “Ram aaya hai” when boy babies are born? Because it’s a “boy” and bus naam hi kaafi hai? 😀
Let me leave you with this post that made a whole lot of sense to me: On Sluts, Rape and Fuckery. It was tweeted by someone on my timeline, but I can’t seem to remember who, for the life of me. If you know who posted this link on twitter yesterday, do let me know and I’ll update the info here.