Sunday, September 13, 2015

What Women Want

Of Seductresses and Vile Victims: Using Positions to undermine Feminism

Nowadays Men Rights' Activism  has emerged and has led to the utter amazement of feminists upon this movement, because they never knew what they were working for could lead to an alternate movement. Something has gone wrong, and we need to realise it as soon as possible.

Feminism is nowadays seen as a monolithic movement with internal contradictions because of the gross misinterpretation done by people who call themselves feminists. Feminism is often treated as an elitist movement because it has not led to the upliftment of women in rural regions, but these are arguments given without seeing what feminism has achieved.

Today, here I am, writing a blog on a public forum. Today, there is an India Today Conference on Women's Rights, a website like Feminism in India. How was this made possible? How was this feat achieved? It was due to that 100 years of fighting for universal suffrage and equal rights, equal recognition of humaneness in both female and male that has led to this. Some years ago it would have been impossible for women to have opinions, let alone voice them out. But this generation of ours has got everything ready on its plate, and thus it is easy to ignore the movement which led to the formation of the food we are ready to gulp down our throats. We take our rights for granted. 

Today a woman can walk on the road, ride in a metro, have a job and do things outside the oikos, the domestic space. Yes, a woman is in danger when she walks on the road, can be teased in a metro, isn't given equal pay in the job she does but everything is in the pipeline, and a bit of optimism goes a long way. If we could achieve the former, removing the issues would not be a problem. But it can only happen if the former is not taken for granted, as a given. I am not saying treat it as a privilege, as a favor being done to our sex. NO, not at all. It is not a favor which has been granted to us. But it has been our birthright which has been successfully realised and now we can exercise it- one should see how it was achieved whenever trying to extract it. It was achieved through years of revolutions, deaths and fights- it wasn't a mean feat. 

Riding in a metro for a woman would have been a privilege 50 years ago, because 'rights' were quite foreign to women, they were only used to 'duties'. But now, most of us are used to having our own space. The problem is that we often forget that only few of us are aware enough of our rights let alone exercise them fully.It does not mean that we use it for extracting ulterior purposes. Lilly Singh's Girl on Girl Love campaign to remove Girl on Girl Hate is important to understand this- it isn't a simple Youtube video, but a very problematic phenomenon of 'women against women'. Patriarchy does not stand isolated in the hands of men, but is also buttressed by women who have been taught the terminology of patriarchy, taught to use the space of their body for gaining advantage.  Quite a few women have successfully gotten the name of 'honey traps', leading to the generalisation of all women using their sexuality in an advantageous manner, potentially seeing every woman as a vile character. This is not a unilateral superficiality- women who did not know anything else but the power of their sexuality were forced to use it for extracting ulterior purposes. This is because the society sees a woman in binaries: either she is pure, or she is vile, and everything stems from her body: it is either delicate, or sexually useful and penetratable. A woman is always seen through lens of stereotypes, leading to most women accepting their positions, and thus trying to act around it, use whatever tools they have. This kind of construct was clearly resonating in Amber Rose's recent controversial statement about women using their position as 'seductresses'. 

The Rohtak Girls incident is often quoted as an example of how women are playing the 'victim' card to get what they want. Being a 'victim' is seen as a privilege- and that in itself is problematic. A movement won't be successful until we understand what we are working for. We want equality, and not special treatment. We do not want to overthrow patriarchy and establish female-control We do not want to be people who men and other sexes are scared of. We want to be equal, we want to be the same, and not different. We have different requirements as two sexes, but not exceptionally disparate ones that we need to be accorded secondary status, leading to the misuse of such a position. 

Fake cases of rape and other kind of sexual harrassment aren't just stories of women using their victim position, but are much more complicated. One may ask-is a woman left with only one choice in this world to get justice or solve her purposes: claim violation her own body, albeit hypothetically? Before blaming women, or blaming anyone for such an act of fraud, we must question why must a person take such a step. The answer lies in the conditioning of a women taught by the patrairchal society to preserve her body for its dignity, and the only way she can destabalise the society is by claiming her body's violation. This action of false accusation often leads to real cases being seen as potentially false.

Such cases are oftne used to steer forward Men's Right Activism and other "anti-feminist'' campaigns using feminism as a crime-furthering concept. Feminism stands for removing the gendering of any activity or social phenomena- it does not want gender as a criteria of judgement, but a egalitarian concept based on merit and personal choices. As anything feminine is seen as the 'lesser' choice or inhabits the lower rung of meritocracy, the word 'feminism' is to remove this negative charge from femininity: position of a woman as either a victim or a seductress is because of the lack of masculinity, thus putting femininity in an inferior position and raising the bar for male counterparts. Feminism is for both men and women, and those women who say they aren't feminists because they love men, are contradicting their own statement. The mere act of you voicing out your love for the other sex publically is the feat feminism has achieved. Thanks to feminism, you can say you are not a feminist. 

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