Dec 9, 2008

The Coolest F-Word

Heavens no! I am not advocating profanity. So stop giving your computer screens that look, take your hand(s) away from your gaping mouth, and read on!

The emotional, sexual, and psychological stereotyping of females begins when the doctor says, “It's a girl.” So cheers to feminism - the coolest F-word ever! Feminism helps us face the challenge of being complex people in a society that reduces us to pink and blue.

Feminism for me is doing what one likes for one’s own satisfaction, not proving a point to anyone, not even to the men. I don’t believe it is necessary to go out and do everything that a man does and excel in it just to prove that I am equal to the men and thus a feminist. I don't want to be labelled a "working woman" or a "house wife". Just let me be - it is my choice. I shouldn't be expected to work or not work because I am a woman; I should work or not work because I want or don't want to. I should not be expected to cover my body because I am a woman; it should be because nudity is equally unaccepted for both men and women. It is as simple as that.

Feminism to me means that I should not be treated as second-rate just for being biologically and emotionally different from men. I should be accepted as equal in spite of the difference. It is the complete ban on the use of the words "No you can't/ shouldn't, because you are a woman." So? So what if I am a woman? How does it make me any less of a human being? I may be different from men in a number of ways, but in no way am I any lesser. I can still celebrate that difference, can't I? I am not inferior in any way - I am just different. Is that so difficult to accept?

Feminism to anyone should be never ever feeling that life would be better if I was born a man. Or never ever feeling that I am entitled to something special because I am a woman. Both these thoughts have crossed my mind only once each. I whined about a flat tire a month back, saying "I wish I was a guy so I could change the tire without worrying about ruining my clothes. I am a girl, Papa! I shouldn't be doing this." Papa actually screamed, "What on earth is that supposed to mean? You have two hands just like a man has. You have a spare tire and a jack in your car. You also have a phone to call up the 'RACE' people if you don't want to deal with it yourself. So does a man. If you were born a woman, it does not make you so inept that you can't help yourself. It also does not make you so special that you deem such tasks beneath yourself. So get going with that car." He then hung up on me. My Papa - the feminist!

Feminism also means that I should not be blamed if I am sexually harassed by a creep who thinks he is a man. Feminism is realising that sexual harassment and related crimes are a law and order problem, and not a woman's (or her dress's) fault. A three-month-old baby girl was raped; surely she didn't flaunt her boobs for the rapist, did she? Similarly, women are raped in places like Saudi Arabia, where all one sees of a woman is her eyes (and that too is only for the more 'free' women, whatever that is supposed to mean). Please, a woman does not ask for it or invite it upon herself. The mere thought is absurd! No woman wishes to be harassed or assaulted, whatever we may think. It is just not possible. And even if someone says '... she was throwing herself at me, encouraging me, ...' etc. etc., I ask him one simple thing. Surely you had the better sense to avoid her than to do what you did?

If I see a man walking down the road or standing in a bus, I do not ogle, lech, whistle, catcall, grope or pounce on him. So why should I, if I walk down the road or ride a crowded bus, be ogled at, leched at, whistled at, catcalled, groped or pounced upon? If I see a man dressed in jeans or shorts or briefs, I do not sexually assault him; I merely carry on with what I am doing. Why should a man behave any differently?

Feminism is also standing up for some women who, for whatever reason, do not wish to or cannot stand up for themselves. It means letting a wife-beater know you will complain and not consider it a 'family matter', because it is not. It means letting a prospective groom know you will not allow dowry to tarnish the wedding, because the bride should only be entitled to her share of the family wealth (just like her siblings) and nothing more. It means helping your wife with the chores because she is as human as you are, and therefore gets as tired as you do after a day of work. It means not making her feel guilty because she works and therefore does not take care of the kids; they are your kids too, so why can't you care for them when she's not with them and you are? Feminism is also not blaming your wife for the kids' poor results or the leaking kitchen faucets, because it is not her fault any more than it is yours.

Feminism is not a fad. It does not stand for women society labels as "bold" or "strong" or even "cheap" and what not. Anyone - men and women - can be a feminist, if they answer "Yes" to the question "Are women human beings?". Feminism is not proclaiming women to be better than men or non-feminist women (whatever that means). It does not mean we hurl abuses at the men in our lives and in the world at large. Feminists do not indulge in male-bashing or bra-burning. We just want to be a woman and still be able to live a life of our choice and liking without being reminded that we are a woman. Hell, we know that already!

And hey, men should be feminist too. They can help create a better society by making sure that they treat their mother, wife, sister, daughter, colleague, boss, neighbour, customer and friend as an equal. How, you ask? Simple - just think of her as an individual and not a woman. Feminism is good for the society, because it is all about refusing to carry out or accept injustice. No society can thrive if half the population is treated as second-rate.

Feminism, therefore, is the 'radical' notion that women are people.


Indian Home Maker said...

Lovely post :)
And I love your Blog's name!! Reminds me of the shock we got when we first learnt that it is the father not he mother who are responsible for he gender of he baby. It should be publicized amongst the poorest and the most backward ...
I am following you too and hope to read many more such posts :)

Surbhi said...

Hey IHM! You wouldn't know, but I've been following your blog (along with Mad Momma, Alankrita, Unmana and Roopie) for about two months now. Never got to say this, but I've always felt frustrated and never what to do about all of it. Your blog gave me an outlet, plus a medium to create awareness. If you've read through my post, you'll find shades of all these blogs including yours. Thanks for all the help and guidance! And do keep dropping in. Love!

@lankr1ta said...

This is one of the most beautifully eloquent defences of feminism I have read.

Surbhi said...

Thanks, Alankrita! And all credit to you gals - you, IHM, Roop, Mad Momma, Unmana and others.
Keep reading!

Varun said...

Wow! What clarity of thought! Great start! Blog hopped from IHM's blog :)

Surbhi said...

Hey thanks a ton, Varun! Great to see a guy here. We need so many more like you! Keep hopping in!

shail said...

I see that you have something here from my post on feminism as well. :-) A good collection of ideas.

Surbhi said...

Shail, all credit to you girls!