Friday, June 19, 2015

The Idea of Feminism

On 16th December 2012, a girl was brutally raped in a moving bus in Delhi. The story caught wild fire and spread throughout the country inciting outrage everywhere. It wasn’t that rapes had never happened before but this time people had had enough. None of the arguments worked anymore people wanted justice and were ready to go to any extent to achieve it. This story isn’t about that incident it’s about what happened afterwards.
The problem for me started first when I saw Anurag Kashyap’s ‘That Day after Everyday’ in Oct of 2013, it was one of the first short films, about eve teasing, which came out by a prominent filmmaker at that time and it went viral. Out of curiosity I managed to take a peek at it, what I saw scared me tremendously. The movie portrayed the issue in such a black and white manner, the solution it put forward was truly scary. Beat the bad guys up and they won’t dare to do the crime again. They even have a dialogue to this effect in the film, and it’s at this point that the ‘Eureka’ moment happens and the female characters go ahead and pursue their goal. The audience had gone mad, people applauded his insightfulness, and chanted death to the abuser (mind its death to only the male abuser).
This chant of death has been ringing in my head for some time now. I feel like where ever I turn there is a woman activist, or a wannabe woman activist standing with a placard saying death to the rapist (rapist now comprises of harasser, teasing or abuse). It’s almost as if this and this alone can make the problem go away forever. And our judiciary did listen and has implemented death as a punishment for rape under extreme circumstances. So why are we still chanting this slogan?
This is when I started pondering about the whole issue. I spent a lot of time reading articles and comments that people had left behind, I even confronted a journalist of a renowned newspaper who had written a piece praising what Anurag had conveyed through his short film. I questioned why she liked the movie so much, the reply I got was far from satisfactory. People really believed that violence would solve everything, not only women but even men. But there is a huge problem with this argument, it’s just a ‘quick fix’ to a long standing problem and I know that can never be the solution. Suppression of women in India has happened along the course of many years, mind-sets have been forged through this time and unless we don’t change this, you can hang and beat as many people as you want, it’s not going to change a thing
On Dec 10th, 2014, Shenaz Treasurywala, a once upon a time VJ and actor felt it was her duty to reach out to prominent ‘MEN’ in our society and plead with them to bring change. I have to agree her letter was touching in the beginning, if you take out the first para where she addresses the ‘MEN’ who it was meant for. I related to it, I related to the anger she felt, as girls and women most of us experience sexual abuse at a very young age. I still remember the first time someone flashed at me, I was barely 7 or 8yrs, and was so clueless and confused. I didn’t really understand what had just happened but I knew that it was something really bad. And I couldn’t talk about this to anyone either because firstly I wasn’t sure what had happened and secondly I was so scared I’d get punished if my parents found out. So throughout my school life I kept mum about all the abuse I went through. And yes people are very perverted, the first time someone grabbed my ass I was just 11yrs old. So I understand the anger, I understand the frustration, what I find very hard to understand is the solution people are fighting for.

Over these past 3yrs I’ve come across many arguments on this topic, most of them end with cutting of the man’s penis, subjecting him to public humiliation and then hanging him. And people justify this argument with absurd statements like we need to instil fear in them, woman have lived in fear for so long now it’s their turn to be afraid, men are animals, all men are guilty just by default.
This brings me to the reason why I finally decided to speak out. A couple of day’s back I had a bizarre argument with an acquaintance of mine, she and my friend where discussing feminism and the topic got heated very quickly. My friend not being of the female gender was told off, as he had never experienced the things we as female go through. I have heard this argument many a times, and I agree as women we do go through a lot of shit, but just because we do doesn’t mean we know best. Noticing this turn of events I decided to step in and I realised that as a female arguing the fact that it’s not women rights that we need today but equality for all genders people will take my argument more seriously than if the same argument came from the opposite sex. Hence the article.
As I’ve said earlier the topic of Women empowerment has been gnawing away at me for some time now. I stopped being a feminist a long time ago, as the word started being associated with angry women whose goal in life was to hate men. But the more I come to think about it’s not the word that is the problem, it’s what people have made of it that is troubling. Recently Emma Watson gave a speech at the launch of the HeForShe campaign at the UN, I quote ‘Feminism by definition is the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities’, I don’t think anyone could have said it better. So if this is the goal of Feminism then how can we justify beating and hanging men in order to suppress them, how can we demand separate laws for both the sexes, where is the equality in that? I want to take this moment and ask everyone reading this to just think for a second what you are demanding, think about what the consequence of that demand might be. Just think.