In a feminist world, are we deaf to what men have to say?
6th Semester, Grant Medical College
‘Keep your ears open, there’s going to be some incredible sales next week’
‘Why? There’s no special festival next week’
‘Are you living under a rock? It’s women’s day next week! All women’s clothing stores have sales! And restaurants and pubs! It’s a great time to be a woman.’
As I sit writing this article, the futility of women’s day comes crashing over me.
Is this what we women are asking for through our ‘feminist’ agenda?
The feminist movement first started out as a call to equity between women and men. But now, being called a feminist has become equivalent to being a ‘man-hater’. By definition, feminism is “The belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities”. In ‘Equal’ lies the crux of the matter.
But what is this equality we hear about?
Yesterday, as I returned from college, I watched the train pull in. It was peak hours and men were hanging out of the overcrowded compartment in a way only Mumbaikars can. As the ladies compartment pulled up, I stepped into a compartment starkly different from the one beside me. Not more than 10 women in a compartment with the capacity of 130. At that moment I thought….. Is this really fair?
Men have, historically ‘ruled the world’ ever since its inception and now, women say, is our time to show our mettle. But in this feminist world, are the needs of men unheard?
The perception that women need reservations, special treatment and the celebration of days like ‘Women’s day’ just drives in the point that women are different from men. It goes against the fundamental principles of feminism. Women only ask for equal opportunity and not special treatment.
I put my argument to you with a few examples:
The Dowry prohibition act: Though a rampant custom still practised all over India, dowry had been banned by the Indian government from 1961.
But this law was widely abused and in 2014, the Supreme Court found it necessary to issue further guidelines to prevent its misuse. But there have been more than 10,000 cases which have been proven to be false. This law was used as a weapon in the hands of unhappy wives who use the act to harass their husbands and in-laws.
The POCSO act: This act was made to prevent sexual abuse of minor girls and protect their rights. But like all laws of India, it soon found itself being misused. There are innumerable cases which are simply registered after an affair gone wrong. Cases of young unmarried women who give their consent to their partner without realizing the consequences and later, on finding that they are pregnant or suffering from any STD, and presumably heavily under the pressure of their parents and family who do not want to face the derision of Society, use the POCSO act to implicate their partner. Again, there are a large number of cases registered by parents whose daughters have eloped. The male partner, in many cases, believing his partner to be of age and having accepted her consent, is suddenly found accused of rape, with a permanent blemish on his record. Is this fair?
In these cases, the rightful plea of men nearly always goes unheard. Everyone’s sympathy always lies with the ‘weaker sex’. Here, no matter what he says, he will not be heard. HE will have to pay the price.
Emma Watson in her speech ‘HeForShe’ as a UN Goodwill Ambassador spoke about Gender stereotypes. From the age of five or six, we hear gender identity reinforcing statements, through our play, through our actions, through everything we do. Boys are told that playing with dolls is ‘girly’, that crying is ‘weak’ and that muscles matter. As adults, the role of the male in the household is valued far less than that of a woman by society. In this fashion, males are pressured into carrying out certain ‘set’ goals, the same way that females are. They are pressured into being the breadwinners of the family, into requiring ‘strength’ to protect what belongs to them, and are not permitted to talk about emotions or cry the way women are, or society will not forgive the loss of their masculinity. What we need to truly obtain the ‘Equality’ that feminism talks about is an equivalent importance to males and females for all tasks. It is not enough to say ‘I care about my daughter as much as I care about my son’. What is required now is to not differentiate at all between the two. For only when there is no distinction and it is only when both sides of the argument are heard that we can truly achieve the height of equality that we all dream of.