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Monday, July 16, 2012

Am I a feminist?

I have often been called a ‘feminist’ by people I know. What makes me a feminist? The fact that I never really enjoyed playing ranna-baati (kitchen) as a kid or thought I’d never fall in love with a man and become emotionally dependent on him- none of which matters now. Or that I abhor objectification, stereotypes and gender roles?

A new breed of female writers had captured the media attention when I was growing up. They narrated the stories of their childhood abuse and were called ‘feminists’. In reality, they were just unhappy people who refused to heal. Hating men doesn’t make you a feminist- it makes you, well, a misandrist.

When people talk of women’s lib, how can they not mention men’s lib? A patriarchal system imposes restraints on a man too. He is supposed to be ‘masculine’, hit birds with an air gun when he is a kid, be a bully and not help around the house, play soccer instead of talking piano lessons. A girl, on the other hand, should feed her doll all day long, be courteous, unquestioning and accommodating.

My parents always encouraged me to speak my mind- but the fact that sometimes it is just not worth it -is my discretion. I was given the same privileges as my elder brother was to pursue an education and a career of my choice. I had the freedom to choose my life-partner, as long as my family approved of him. Not because I was afraid to rebel, but because I thought I owed that much to them.

I was happy to see SlutWalk (a favorite of third-wave feminists), because ‘women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized’ is bull. It bothers me that victims of social crimes are further victimized by society, ‘She must have provoked them’. Received wisdom should also convey that you don’t really need to provoke the twisted – the best you can do is avoid them.

Am I a feminist? I don’t think so. I just have a system of beliefs which might get challenged, and I am sport any day for a reasonable debate. But don’t call me a feminist just because I think your wife should hit you back if you subject her to domestic violence.


Anonymous said...

as a kid i too never enjoyed playing 'ranna-bati', or feeding my doll, never too quiet for anything , and just because i have the habit f speaking my mind out i too had brows raised at me...........i too was questioned and is questioned, i guess ppl find it difficult to c or accept differences, i do not knw whether my attitude makes me feminist or nt bt it wud b hard fr me t bring a change in my attitude. and i guess you r nt a feminist too.

anyways , it is a long tym after am going thru ur blog, endearing to read it once again, luv it as always
- prama

Aparna Kar said...

Thanks Prama :)