Demystifying Feminism


The tag thing is up again, and this time on a rather serious note. After Am started it, DG tagged me in her Feminism in a desi setting post, and here I go with my take.

From email forwards to movies, there has been a pattern of trivializing the opposite gender in the name of fun. But between all the fun, what is not apparent is an inherent attitude of dominance that gradually gets established in men, and that of submission in women. Blame it on the generations of conditioning. A girl, as soon as she is born, is being conditioned to be ‘womanish’. It seems the most natural thing to train the girl in what people have laid down the generations as duties of a ‘woman’ – cook, wash, manage home, while her brother is groomed to play the Man of the house.

A simple excuse in some circles being – women are biologically inclined only for such chores. Simone de Beauvoir in The Second Sex, gives a brilliant insight into the biological and psychoanalytical aspects of understanding feminism.

The first — that of the passivity of the female — is disproved by the fact that new life springs from the union of the two gametes; the living spark is not the exclusive property of either.

There is nothing in the DNA that defines the duties of a woman. It’s just a result of the relative superiority that men have ‘forced’ upon women – a superiority which has no rational or biological basis!

N, in Women like us notes rather shockingly, 

I find it disturbing that the representative of a feminist publishing house is not clear about what feminism means, not to the world at large but even just to them… That three other writers with her believe that “women like us” don’t have “such problems” therefore, women like us don’t have to write about them.

It’s a pity to see that some women themselves fail to acknowledge the fact that feminism is not a radical occult movement, but a simple thought process that aims to give womanhood its due position in the society.

A cousin of mine once told me, “It started off like just another calm good day. And suddenly I flare up at him for no reason!”. She went on to say how her husband remained so cool despite all the rubbish she poured over him going through a rather rough phase of PMS. Even religion hasn’t spared a woman, by restricting most of the holy chores to men – because, women menstruate. Neither is she spared at the workplace. As would say this recent report from BBC. 

Women civil servants in India have expressed shock at new appraisal rules which require them to reveal details of their menstrual cycles.

Can anything be more disgusting? (Update: Uma tells me via email that they’ve apparently withdrawn it. The BBC news update here. Sanity prevails, I guess.)

Firstly, it’s vital for men to come out of their haze of masculine superiority. An irrational dominance does nothing useful to the cause of a relationship, other than nurturing a false pride by feeding their own ego. Secondly, it’s vital to understand that feminism is not a revolution; it’s a call for a balanced state of mind. Is that a hard ask?

These days, my cousin tells me, she marks the days in red in her calendar and gears herself up to face the adventure. As for her husband, he knows what all the red markings in the calendar are about and he too gears himself up. And they lived happily ever after.


17 Responses to “Demystifying Feminism”

  1. 1 Amrita

    Thanks K! Its interesting that you brought up the matter of menstruation and PMS. I hate it that whole culture of shame that’s developed around a natural biological function thats very necessary to the continued existence of the human race.

  2. 2 DG

    Good one, Kishmish! You’re a good lad!

  3. I used to wonder what the ‘feminist’ in your ‘about me’ space meant… now its clear. Good post buddy :)

  4. 4 ranjini

    Feminism? Hmmmm today i got to know that, there is something called equality which we have to fight for. I wonder why such a fight should actually exist in the first place? Its the law of nature that be it both equal or unequal, things are going to happen and we making words at the inequality/equality is astonishing me. I dont know, somehow i detest even discussing such things and to be frank, i feel these are baseless. You understand me kishore, Baseless!

    No, now dont hit me with logic by citing examples of inequality, its a gut feeling of mine.

    Btw, i just want to cite one thing, regarding the submission of indian women. Now, we find lots of cry from female and that too due to the work-life imbalance. In earlier days, it wasnt there and the reason why it wasnt there was, becoz the indian women deliberately found, catering to the need of the family was more promising in her growth, both inner spiritual growth and that of the society. she clearly understood the importance, one of the duo has to play in building the family and henceforth outreaching to the society.

    This cause to which she submitted explicitly, when forgotten or forced on her has created failure! I feel feminism offshoots to pacify such failures or so. so if she remembers the cause of her submission once again, i think then, might be men would fight for her post and we might have a masculinist in many female bloggers About me section!

  5. 5 Kishore

    >> she clearly understood the importance

    Some questions here. First, who defines what is ‘important’? Secondly, Feminism is not just about the ideas behind a woman being forced to be at home (though calling it ‘inner spirituality’ adds jazz, I’m afraid I have to disagree), but it’s about a whole lot of trauma women face in this world. Sexual harassment at workplace, Domestic abuse.. or to put it in a milder manner – dancing to the whims and fancies of the men of the house, discrimination by religion/society, the atrocious ways the ‘society’ deals with widows and abused women, and this list will only keep growing…

    Feminism, as I told in my post, is not a revolution. It’s a thought process. Feminism is not against men, it’s just an attempt to make men/women understand and respect womanhood better.

  6. 6 Jax

    Now, why isn’t anyone talking about transgenderism?

  7. Ranjini,
    I am a strong believer that women hardly have sense ;-). But, you always prove me wrong :). Kudos for a logical thinker. Kicha, sorry for the comment da. I hardly comment in your blog being scared of the word ‘feminist’. Let this one go…:)

  8. Buddies, I was just kidding. I know women have sense too… ;-)

  9. Nice blog!

  10. 10 Amrita

    Jax, this post of mine isnt really about transgendered people per se but it does touch upon in it in an indian context. Maybe that should be the next tag!

    Kish & Ranjini – While I agree with K that feminism is about being “pro” something more than being “anti”, I’d like to note here that some things are worth fighting for. I’d have hated to be a second class citizen all my life because somebody had to be one and I drew the genetic short straw. Equality is a right that everybody fights for. And the reason so many women can today sit back and not need to think about “ism”s is because other women did the work for them.

  11. Well written.
    You summed it up well when you said:
    “It’s a pity to see that some women themselves fail to acknowledge the fact that feminism is not a radical occult movement, but a simple thought process that aims to give womanhood its due position in the society.”

  12. 12 Kishore

    So it’s coming next. :)

    Yeah, you better be kidding.

    Totally agree with you! Women who have been more fortuante, should come forward and lend a hand to those who are not, rather than sitting in an eternal state of denial.

  13. 13 mridulaudupa

    All this hue and cry about equality… no two people will ever be equal. It is a matter of perception, depending on which side of the bar you’re looking from. An illiterate woman in a village being able control her savings, in a position to send her children to school is more liberated than a city bred girl for whom equality and liberty is merely the power to buy the kind of dress she wants and go to the latest hang – out place. Liberty is a luxury we can afford to talk about, because our social status enables us to do so. Survival for many is the luxury.

  14. 14 apu

    There is nothing in the DNA that defines the duties of a woman. Amen to that. Its a realisation that dawns slow on many.

    Usha directed me here, am compiling all these posts on Feminism at Yours is being added too.

  15. 15 N

    Good post! Thank god for some sensible, intelligent men ;).

    mridulaudupa: I am confused by your comment…are you saying that we should not fight for equality? And isn’t that a bit of a stereotype? City-bred girls face different kinds of challenges ranging from sexual harassment to domestic violence to acid attacks. The sad thing is that there are many crimes against women. We can’t fight all of them. But some of us can pick some battles and fight them. In any case, the need to fight them can hardly be suspect. Just read the newspapers regularly.

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