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With love, from a feminist

By Ananya Bhattacharya | Last Updated: Sunday, May 6, 2012 - 17:15
Ananya Bhattacharya
Silent Assassin

Thwarting patriarchy has always come naturally to me. Answering back when asked not to sit in a particular way or asking ‘why’ where norms dictate it unnecessary, sort of turned into my forte right from childhood. And with time, wisdom and experience, the wine just kept maturing.

Call it a coincidence or an interesting twist of fate, I landed into a women’s college right with the first step out of home. When my hostelmates went around telling tales of their new found freedom, I realised that what was always normal in my house wasn’t the same elsewhere. Our decent marks might have placed us in a world of ‘uniformity’, but facts shouted out otherwise.

For many girls, stepping out of their homes for the first time doesn’t come without an unending list of what-not-to-dos. And the bold contours of what-to-dos entail only as much and no further. And as far as talks of utopian ideas like feminism are concerned, honour killings might come to the rescue of the girl who would even think of that ‘evil’.

<i>Feminists are devilish women, seductresses in the guise of angels, mad women who have nothing else to do in life apart from burning their bras and not shaving their arms. Women who are feminists can never speak good about any man. Feminists consider all men as replete with devious qualities. Feminists never realise that they are compromising their morals while smoking or drinking or doing ‘that’. All feminists are immoral women. People who speak of corrupted things like feminism deserve to be ‘tamed’. And you know the many ways patriarchy has of ‘taming’ women. Feminists hate men, and therefore should be brought back to the territory of the ‘normal’. There is no denying the fact.</i>

What needs to be accepted is your extremely blinkered vision. If something deserves to be uprooted altogether, it is the evil called patriarchy and its slaves. And as far as feminists are concerned, they are women too. Also, in case the likes of people who mete out the judgment of ‘taming’ women are not yet aware, men too are feminists. Yes, those very men who share their gender with the custodians of patriarchy.

The condition of the society is such today that a woman who is branded – mind you, branded – a feminist, is bound to be uncouth and rude and characterless and what-not. Feminists don’t shout themselves hoarse asking for rights equal to men or to be ‘raised’ to the standards of men. After all, men haven’t accomplished so much that we need to consider their feat an admirable or insurmountable one. Men have done what their families, society, time and situations have favoured them to.

Goes without saying that there are many men who have struggled a lot to make ends meet. There are many men who have shouldered the responsibility of homes and families from a very early age. There are many men who have fought against the adversities that time has thrust in their way. But what needs adequate acceptance is the uncomfortable, unsettling fact that for a woman, even these struggles are privileges. Privileges which certain domains of the society reserve only for men.

The fact is that every woman is fighting a battle -- against innumerable wrongs and unfathomable odds, a battle that begins before her foray into the world and stretches on eons after her death. Somewhere a Clarissa Dalloway is comfortably nestled within the safe happiness of her home and family, yet is torn apart by reminisces of her past. Somewhere a perfectly happy Nora Helmer walks out of her cosy nest and slams the door behind her with a fierceness only injustice could have bred. And somewhere else there is perhaps a Parvati who is not allowed to unite with her love. Underneath the calm facade of a woman, lie several layers of wounds and many more of adjustments. Behind all, there lies patriarchy. The answer to patriarchy is definitely not feminism. Feminism is way too innocuous and way too bound to provide patriarchy with a stupefying answer.

Feminists are people who fight against ideals like those of the chauvinists. Feminists are not separated by gender or class or age or race or whatever other demarcation there exists. Feminists are people who cannot bear to see the entire half of the human race being wronged, every infinitesimal moment. Feminists are not people who go about smoking or drinking or doing what your filthy minds want them to. Feminists are not sadists who cannot bear to see others happy. They are people who quietly or noisily try and make their presence known. A feminist doesn’t shirk or condemn marriage, they are just sick of the wrongs imposed in the name of that institution.

Feminists are people who corrupt young minds. With the seed of a revolution. One that has no beginning and knows no end. Feminists are people who convert fertile minds and prepare them to fight the beasts of patriarchy. Feminists are feminists, no matter how much of pejoration that word undergoes over time. And no matter what patriarchy does to curb their growth or how it tries to chop the wings of feminism off, it will still soar. And perhaps someday, feminism will ring the death-knell for patriarchy.

First Published: Sunday, May 6, 2012 - 17:15

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