“Can anyone guarantee that absolute empowerment of women thru feminism will improve the social balance and not give rise to new social problems?”

Sharing an email. My response in red.

Dear IHM,

I’m not a blogger or a social activist and neither intend to be one but after reading a number of posts in your blog (to which I accidentally came across), I have mixed emotions and opinion for your posts. In most of them I agree with both you and the feminist commentators, but in some of them my mind and heart simply refuses to accept your opinion, so much so that I couldn’t stop myself from writing to you. I am not a feminist or a follower of patriarchy. I’m a person who likes reacting to a situation or an individual by applying his knowledge, experiences, logic, reasons, and rationality.

I wanted ask a few questions which striked my mind after reading your blogs. I would  feel extremely privileged and thankful if you put these in your blog as i want to see people’s  reaction and comments. Finally I would just like to thank you for inspiring me to be more socially aware and to feel free to write/say what you think.

So the questions are as follows (my questions don’t mean to harm or hurt the sentiments of any individual or group.) :

1. Is feminism a practical approach at its purest form towards relationships, gender issues and life?

IHM: There cannot be a more honest, fair and practical approach.

In it’s purest form, ‘feminism is the radical notion that women are human’ (just like non-women), with human aspirations, feelings, failings and rights.

2. According to feminism, is it justified/correct by any standards, if a woman claims to be in an otherwise unproblematic healthy love relationship (say married/in an affair/live in or any other kind if im forgeting any) with one man and while in relationship with him knowingly & willingly involves into frequent/occational casual sex or an affair or spends too much time with another man/men in order to quench her physical/emotional thirst, because….

IHM: Only as justified and as correct as it is for any two people in any relationship, two men, two women, a man and a woman.

Feminism acknowledges that women are as human as anybody else, and as capable of dishonesty as anybody else. Women are not goddesses to be worshiped, or possessions/amaanat/paraya dhan to be ‘given away’, or honor to be ‘protected’.

 ….

Please listen to what I have to say. In patriarchy there are a lot of things which I myself hate. Women are really looked down upon and have to face a hell lot of problems in their lives to live happily and peacefully. I accept whole heartedly that part of yours. But there is a huge underlying question behind empowering women thru feminism and giving them their rightful equality which may be they deserve (I don’t want to jump to conclusions aheadhand).

IHM: Everybody, even terrorists, child abusers and murderers have ‘human rights’, which is why they are sentenced only according to the laws of the land.

Why do you think should women have to ‘deserve’ ‘rightful equality’?

And who ‘gives’ equality to women?

How did ‘they’ become qualified to ‘give’ women (or take from women)  their ‘rightful equality’?

Did women give them equality? Who are these deserving ‘they’  who do not have to ‘deserve’ their ‘rightful equality’? Women’s parents? But one of them is always a woman. The society? Approximately  50%  45% of  that is women too.

Why is the rest of humanity entitled to ‘equality’ – who are ‘they’ equal to?

Can anyone guarantee that absolute empowerment of women thru feminism will be healthy and efficient enough to improve the social balance and not give rise to any new social problems or be a potential threat in future?

IHM: What is this ‘social balance’ that cannot be maintained without oppressing half of the humanity?

What we have is a system that has failed to instill even basic human values in those who follow it. This  ‘social balance’ tolerates parents and grand parents hating some of their own children, keeping them in dependence and forcing them to live with abuse and torture. We have a system that does not acknowledge that lack of basic human rights for half the population leads to a desensitized society where might becomes right. This ‘social balance’ worships power.

And what is ‘absolute empowerment’? Equal rights to seek happiness, justice, self reliance and freedom is ‘absolute empowerment’?

Because like patriarchy the idea of feminism also has many flaws.

IHM: Feminism is about human rights for women, children and men who do not fit into patriarchal gender stereotypes. What do you see as flawed in that?

Moreover do you really believe that men and women in India are prepared enough to go thru such major psychological and attitude change in near future?

IHM: If not now, then when? When every misogynist says they are ready to ‘give’ ‘equal rights’ to those who ‘deserve’ it?

All that is needed it for parents to value their girl-children – not possible until they see them as liabilities, – can’t change until daughters continue to be seen as ‘future daughters in law’, –  can change if everybody sees self reliance and not marriage as their goals.  Once marriage ceases to be the only purpose in Indian daughters’ lives and when parents start seeing them as their own children and not as paraya dhan/future dils/, they will take their rights (and crimes against them) seriously – and only then will the society start valuing women. It all begins with women being seen as people (i.e. humans) and not as future wives, future daughters in law, sister of men, mothers of men, ghar ki izzat, ghar ki lakshmi and paraya dhan.

I also think gender studies should be a part of school curriculum. Children should learn in school that no matter how their families treat some family members – everybody is equal.

So what could make even the average, selfish, money-minded Indian family welcome baby girls?

Do you think that women in india are well aware with the responsibility that comes with the effect of feminism in its absolute form, if and when it comes to effect.

IHM: The responsibility that comes with being seen as human?

Women need to be aware of this responsibility, only as much as the rest of the humanity, no?

Don’t  you think that even if feminism has to come in our society it needs redefining in an elaborate way?

IHM: Maybe the media needs to talk  a lot more about how nobody has the right to ‘give’ equality to equal others because we are all born equal?

About how each one of us owns our bodies, minds, lives, careers,  opinions and happiness, and each one of us responsible for our own actions?

And maybe we need to talk a lot more about how harmful social hierarchies are?

3. According to feminists, is marriage an overrated or outdated or obsolete institution? What are the advantages and disadvantages of marriage for an average Indian? I know about the guys but what does a feminist girl bring to the table when getting married?

 IHM: I am not sure I understood the question. What do those who are not feminist (women or men) ‘bring to the table’? What should anybody bring to the table? 

LINK: Marriages are sold to Indian women in a glossy cover.

But I guess feminism for Indian women would mean more people marrying only because they want to marry, and only those who they want to marry.  This could bother some people:  LINK: Early and arranged marriages within the community prevent social ills?

4. Like patriarchy isn’t materialistic/selfish love being promoted/introduced in fashion in the mist of feminism and women liberalisation?

IHM: Shouldn’t people have a choice in whether or not they want to be unselfish? Forced unselfishness is abuse, not selflessness.

‘Materialistic love’ thrives when half the population is denied self reliance (in a million ways including through banning public spaces for them) and the other half is forced to be providers.  [LINK:The traditional arrangement is equal in distributing the responsibilities?]

Related Posts:

A comment: One more thing, had I been financially independent I would have never got married.

An email: Can a woman be married off with a promise to the in laws, that her father would find a job for her?

Arranged Marriage Market: “Oh! then our son has to take care of you and your wife too”!

How can the society ensure that marriage (and homemaking) does not result in women becoming financially dependent on their husbands?

So what does marriage mean to traditional and conservative Indians?

And if a woman demands equality, she should behave exactly like a male…

Society benefits immensely from childbearing, childrearing, and caregiving work that currently goes unpaid.

Weird, funny facts about Misogynists.

102 thoughts on ““Can anyone guarantee that absolute empowerment of women thru feminism will improve the social balance and not give rise to new social problems?”

  1. Oof, don’t know where to begin. The idea that women must do something special to deserve equality! And don’t know where this idea comes from that feminism is about hurting other people or being adulterous. Newsflash – women are human and some will be evil, selfish, deceitful, adulterous, immoral, liars, thieves, murderers – just like men are. That doesn’t take away anyone’s basic rights.

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  2. I have come across many who think feminism is all about taking power from men and giving it to women. They see feminism as a threat to the society. Even a research paper written by star plus states that they are feminists because more women are in ‘power’ and are the decision makers. I mean instead of a bearded old man dictating how family members shold live now they have a goongat clad old woman giving out the same orders, and we are told that is feminism! When will they understand that if the world were truly feminist, noone would be giving out orders for others to follow without using the brains, but each problem would be solved taking into the thoughts and perspectives of each member.

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    • I have come across many who think feminism is all about taking power from men and giving it to women. They see feminism as a threat to the society. Even a research paper written by star plus states that they are feminists because more women are in ‘power’ and are the decision makers.

      I’m bolding your comment, because it highlights just how gender is viewed as a zero game. Well not even just gender, race/caste and class. Anytime a group of people who are at disadvantage are given equality, it’s viewed as “taking away” from those who already had the advantage.

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  3. Well articulated answers! Kudos! As reprehensible as the questions seem to some of us, this is exactly the kind of attitude that any human rights activism needs to face squarely. We need to keep speaking out and questioning the inane assumptions our society makes, even as we are part and parcel of them! Great post!

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    • Ah, the thumb downer strikes.. on something as innocuous as ‘beautiful’ that too. Thumb downer, you need to get out more.

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      • Thumb-downers, why don’t you have the guts to say what you think as the other commenters do instead of just hitting a button? Perhaps you don’t want to admit how twisted and small-minded your objections are, especially when you’re nixing a compliment to IHM, who I think is a national treasure.

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        • I would ask all those thumb downers to identify themselves so that girls will know who to stay away from.

          IHM, those were great responses. Love you.

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        • When the number of thumb downs is unreasonably high, I conclude that the serial thumbdowner is up to his old mischief.
          I then stop counting the down thumbs and look only at the Up Thumbs.
          Fortunately, the culprit cannot pull down that number!
          Or, after reading this, is he going to try perhaps?
          How many “down t humbs” is he going to gift me for this comment?
          Let’s see.
          Regards
          GV

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  4. I commend your patience (and your excellent responses of course) IHM!

    This commenter’s question is like saying ‘can you guarantee that ending slavery would be good for society.. do black people really deserve equality?’. What an utterly ignorant thing to say.

    The LW says “giving them their rightful equality which may be they deserve (I don’t want to jump to conclusions aheadhand)”

    and also says ” I am not a follower of patriarchy’.

    Mr LW (I am pretty sure this is a man), you are a follower of patriarchy. You are sexist. The concept of women as equal humans is so foreign to you that you that I shudder to think of how you treat women around you. You just can’t get past your own male privilege to admit it.

    You are no one to ‘give’ women their equality.. you are also no one to get to doubt whether or not they deserve equality. Why do men ‘deserve’ more rights than women? Because you have a penis? Please get over yourself. Women are humans as men, equality is not a favour to us.

    I don’t have to guarantee ANYTHING to you to claim my equality. I don’t give a shit what happens to your society if I am an equal human. I suppose you think ending female infanticide and dowry burnings would be horrible if it led to women having the right wear jeans and marry/ have sex by their own choice.. OH NO, the MORALS!! I AM equal to any man, woman, child and I challenge anyone who wants to treat me differently to go ahead and try.

    “According to feminism, is it justified/correct by any standards, if a woman claims to be in an otherwise unproblematic healthy love relationship (say married/in an affair/live in or any other kind if im forgeting any) with one man and while in relationship with him knowingly & willingly involves into frequent/occational casual sex or an affair”

    Seems to be the commenter’s own personal problem. This is a human issue, not a ‘woman’ issue. It is ok for any human to do that? If you don’t like your partner doing it to you, you should to leave them. Feminism is not about whether or not it is right to cheat on your partner. Feminism is about ensuring that if a woman cheats on her partner, she is treated the same as a man who cheated on his. It is not ok to give 100 lashes to a woman for cheating if a man would have got a bouquet of flowers for the same act. I hope this helps the commenter realise what equality means.

    As an aside, I wonder why it always comes down to controlling women’s sexuality! Men cheat on their partners too. What does this have to do with feminism or ‘letting’ women be equal?

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    • I love ‘what do feminist women bring to marriage’.. because only a woman who will change her name, bear make children, bring dowry, tolerate abuse from one and all, cook/ clean/ service on and all bring anything to the table.

      Dear LW,

      My husband cooks, cleans, works, pays for half of everything. I cook, clean, work and pay for half of everything. Our home is in both our names (different last name and all). What exactly is missing from our table? Could you please let me know?

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    • If a woman wants to cheat on her partner, so be it. It is up to the couple how they handle this…same as when a husband cheats on his wife. Why should this prevent a woman from having equality. Equality is not conditional…it is by default a birthright.

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  5. We will always have such kind of ignorance lurking around in the society! No matter how much we try to tell them, as to what does feminism aim to do, even then they think that the idea is only to create a woman dominated society, one in which men will be less privileged! I loved every bit of your answer! Ignorance is blissful for many out there! A lot of roadblocks w will face, to meet our goals, for such is the kind of parasitic effect patriarchy has left!

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    • It is convenient for a certain section of people to promote patriarchy because they are the beneficiaries. By allowing feminism it would mean that they will no longer have an obedient and free slave. It is natural for them to feel insecure. It is in their interest to let things remain as it is.

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  6. Read this once, then read this again. I am unable to believe such a person really exist… I mean really? No wait really, your responses are Okay dokay IHM, wish I had met this person.

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  7. Feminism is the belief that men and women are equal and should have equal opportunities and that is it. If you have a problem with that belief(totally different to having a problem with some feminists) then I don’t know what to say.

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  8. I don’t believe that the letter writer actually knows what feminism even is.

    To the letter writer:

    Believing in feminism means believing that men and women have equal rights. It’s not a concept that’s somehow supposed to be the polar opposite of patriarchy. They’re not two political ideals that can be contrasted like you’re doing here “Because like patriarchy the idea of feminism also has many flaws.”

    And also, what, in all the world is this??!!

    “According to feminism, is it justified/correct by any standards, if a woman claims to be in an otherwise unproblematic healthy love relationship (say married/in an affair/live in or any other kind if im forgeting any) with one man and while in relationship with him knowingly & willingly involves into frequent/occational casual sex or an affair or spends too much time with another man/men in order to quench her physical/emotional thirst, because….”

    Is this an actual question or a poor attempt to troll the website? Feminism doesn’t ‘okay’ any such behavior. Perhaps wikipedia can be your friend in giving you a general idea on feminism and it’s many waves instead of…wherever it is that you came up with this.

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  9. I dont know where to begin😦 So much so that I am fumbling to put my thoughts coherently! Let me try anyway.

    Dear LW,

    As a woman all I am asking you is, please
    – don’t kill me when I am a foetus
    – when I am born and as I grow up, give me the same amount of love, nourishment, education and other basic facilities you would reserve for your sons
    – don’t make marriage my sole purpose in life. Instead teach me the importance of independence – both financial and emotional
    – dont stifle my dreams and aspirations in the garb of family tradition, culture etc.
    – stand by me as I spread my wings and try and make a difference to the soceity
    – and while doing all of the above, dont forget to teach your sons that belonging to a different gender does not make them superior. It just makes them that – different!

    With a little bit of sensitivity instilled in you, do the above, lo and behold! you are a feminist too. How easy is that. Of course, en route you and your folks may have to forgo little things like dowry, hot chapatis, concept of lazing on the couch while being waited upon, a sense of entitlement and superiority etc. – which anyway had no business existing in the first place.

    And last but not the least, dont worry, Indian culture, your parents and the neighborhood can very easily withstand this change!

    Good luck!

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    • “kill a fetus”?
      We need to be careful when we talk about gender selection and the termination of female fetus’s.

      Abortion, the right to choose and reproductive rights are a feminist cause. Women need to have control over their own bodies. To talk about gender selection as “killing babies” does more harm than good.
      I used to be pro-life and thought abortion should be illegal because of what’s happening in India with it being used to terminate girl babies. But then I researched and read up on what it’s like for women living in countries where abortion is illegal and it is terrifying.
      Women in India should have the right to choose. We need to be careful we don’t undermine reproductive rights by how we talk about this issue.
      With gender selective abortions, it’s a whole different issue. A baby is wanted but a baby with a vagina is seen as a “birth defect” and terminated. That way of thinking is the problem not abortion.

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      • She did mention:
        “…as a woman all I am asking you is, please
        – don’t kill me when I am a foetus”
        This was *in context*, and not mentioned in the generic sense of abortion/MTP so it’s perfectly correct here.

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  10. Lovely answers, IHM (as usual) ..
    As for me, I’m still trying to figure out the “I am not a feminist or a follower of patriarchy” part ..🙂 Is the letter writer looking to be recognized as a ‘humanist’? Does he feel that to be a feminist, you need to sacrifice your humanity? If he doesn’t follow patriarchy, what does he follow? Matriarchy, maybe? But that wouldn’t allow him to exercise his “knowledge, experiences, logic, reasons, and rationality” either😀

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  11. Your responses were good, IHM, but I would like to draw attention to a few things. Note that the letter writer (LW) repeatedly refers to feminism in its “purest” form, “absolute empowerment” of women, etc. These phrases give me a feeling that not only does the LW not understand feminism (which I think is OK considering that he’s asking the questions to gain more understanding), but that he sees “absolute empowerment of women” as a scenario where women will do to men what men do to women in the patriarchal setup – and from that perspective feminism would sound like a riot act to a man who unquestioningly accepts his traditional sense of entitlement to control a woman’s identity, her body, her right to knowledge, her right to harbour opinions, her movement, etc.

    I want to clarify this for the LW:
    1. Feminism seeks to empower women to the extent that they can live fearlessly, with dignity, and with the ability to make choices about life independently. Absolute empowerment in that sense means a situation where every woman in society – irrespective of her education, economic status, or geographic location (in cities or villages) – is able to exercise her right to make independent choices about herself. It does NOT seek to enable women to dictate a man’s choices, his body, his dress, his ability to move without the fear of rape or stigma, etc.
    Of course it also means that a female embryo is not aborted simply because of its gender; that while growing up a girl is given the same resources as her brothers to study, work, and decide on her future; and that a girl is not made to feel inferior, afraid, or indebted to anyone for the simple reason of being female.

    2. Feminism does not mean that a woman is exempt from the laws of the land – be it pertaining to adultery or whatever.

    3. Feminism does not advocate the wearing of western-wear, non-compliance to religious practices, or any other deviation from whatever is considered normative.

    Feminism simply advocates that a woman has a right to choose what to wear, when to wear it, where to go, whom to believe, what rules to abide by, and to choose her own destiny – as much as the men around her. “Choice” is the key word.

    However, just to clarify, if a man “chooses” to insult or rape a woman based on the choice of her clothes or her location at a particular time of the day, or for any other reason – then it is “he” and not “she” who is breaking the law. No one deserves to be raped. No one asks to be raped. A rapist may or may not get sexual satisfaction from the violence he unleashes; he may use rape as a means to punish or control “errant” women – but feminism seeks to reject the idea of rape as a punishment or a lever to control women. A feminist sees rape as a criminal offence that may cause a woman some injury and stress – but not as something that reduces her “honour”, brings her “shame”, or makes her a “zinda laash”. Feminism seeks to deny the potency of patriarchal tools of control such as rape by denying its purported ability to change the destiny of a woman. If you don’t feel dishonoured if you are stabbed by a criminal, or run over by a drunk driver, then you shouldn’t feel dishonoured for having been raped.

    4. Lastly, and this is very important: Clothes or gender do not make a feminist. Feminism is a humanitarian concept – and it is upheld by millions of people in the world – both men and women. In short, men can be feminists too. Feminism is not an all-women club. Please join us🙂

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  12. I think the premise of the question is flawed. Human rights are the goal of any government. This mythical “social balance” is a mirage. When making a decision, the government should only look at human rights – not social balance. Where is it written in the Constitution that “social balance” is even a factor to be considered? When it’s so poorly defined, how can we say that it’s important? How can we measure it?

    Human rights on the other hand are concrete and measurable. It’s all important. “Social balance” can go take a hike.

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  13. to the LW ,
    All it means is as a woman , i want the exact same rights that other human beings have implied or otherwise.
    Rights are like love, sharing and giving rights does not deplete them from the people who have them. Just because i want to be treated as an equal human being does not make any man lose his rights,
    it also does not mean there should be a justification for giving me my god given rights.
    Giving me equal rights should have absolutely no impact on men’s rights. ( sure if a man has been treating me as his personal maid !!! but apart from that my rights should have no impact on his)

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  14. Today, young women most commonly associate “feminism” with radical feminism, and this has put off a lot of these women from being active in feminism, spurring a move away from second-wave labels. However, the basic values of feminism (gender equality of rights and opportunities) have become so integrated into Western culture as to be accepted over-whelmingly as valid, and non-conformity to those values characterized as unacceptable, by the same men and women who reject the label “feminist”.

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    • I believe in India we are just starting out. Issues concerning women are being laid out on the table and brought up for discussion only now (at least in mainstream media and platforms like these)

      Sadly, this means that we are still at Step 0. We have to justify and clarify basics like why women are as much human as the next man, and not some hostile alien species that needs to be controlled and kept in check for the larger good of humanity (and not to mention, Indian culture!)

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    • Let me step in and disagree with this notion of ” have become so integrated into Western culture as to be accepted over-whelmingly as valid, and non-conformity to those values characterized as unacceptable, by the same men and women who reject the label “feminist”.” I live in “the West” and truthfully, nothing has changed. Yes, discrimination is not as blatant as it is in India, because it is illegal in most places. But if you’re telling me that when it comes to childcare, household responsibilities etc, men have totally shaken off the conditioning that it’s not their job, then I call BS. Feminism is not just stopping dowry deaths and rapes, it is mostly shaking off this notion of “roles” and who should do what at home.

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  15. // I am not a feminist or a follower of patriarchy.//

    However you do come across to me as someone who is a product of conditioning where it is debatable to give/not give freedom to women and not consider freedom as everybody’s right. Who are the people who think they have authority to hand over freedom?

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  16. Trying to educate people about feminism is very tiresome. *le sigh* Though it’s you have the patience IHM.🙂

    2. According to feminism, is it justified/correct by any standards, if a woman claims to be in an otherwise unproblematic healthy love relationship (say married/in an affair/live in or any other kind if im forgeting any) with one man and while in relationship with him knowingly & willingly involves into frequent/occational casual sex or an affair or spends too much time with another man/men in order to quench her physical/emotional thirst, because….

    Wow, so feminism justifies cheating on one’s partner. Goodness she’s adorable, I’m mean really, where do they come up with this stuff?. *facepalm*

    Can anyone guarantee that absolute empowerment of women thru feminism will be healthy and efficient enough to improve the social balance and not give rise to any new social problems or be a potential threat in future?

    I’d be happy to hear as to what you mean by “social problems” because this question seems to be based on a premise that feminism is the cause of many social ills. I’m probably jumping to conclusions with this, but it still comes off like that. Also when we’re talking about “social balance” it’s mainly based on people being in their respective roles and it doesn’t matter that these roles are oppressive.

    Because like patriarchy the idea of feminism also has many flaws.

    As a black Western feminist, I have my issues with (Western) feminism, but even with those so-called flaws it’s still a very much needed movement and philosophy,.

    Moreover do you really believe that men and women in India are prepared enough to go thru such major psychological and attitude change in near future?

    If every social movement in the world waited for people’s attitudes to change, nothing would’ve gotten done.

    3. According to feminists, is marriage an overrated or outdated or obsolete institution? What are the advantages and disadvantages of marriage for an average Indian? I know about the guys but what does a feminist girl bring to the table when getting married?

    Feminism in general does criticize the institution of marriage, yes you have those who believe it’s overrated & outdated, but marriage in general is a patriarchal institution. Knowing that, many self identified feminists choose to get married while others do not.

    Finally, I don’t really understand the last question.

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    • “….but even with those so-called flaws it’s still a very much needed movement and philosophy”.
      So true.
      Why cant people see how much needed it is?
      The ugliness of Patriarchy is such that it is nearly impossible for people to understand that females can not even walk on the streets without fear. Anytime of the day.

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      • Women walking without fear? In many families, the birth of a girl child marks the beginning of unceasing anxiety about her safety.

        She is groomed from the cradle to someday become a good, obedient wife/DIL. That includes retaining her virginity.

        Everything a girl does is in keeping with this ultimate goal.
        Her destiny as a woman is to be a good wife, DIL and produce sons. End of story.
        The day she is born, the family starts scrimping and saving to satisfy greedy future in-laws who will claim their paraya dhan.

        It sounds awful and crude, but in traditional families a daughter belongs nowhere.
        Her parents hold her in safekeeping until she is married. Once married, she remains an outsider in her husband’s family until her son gets married.
        Then the whole unhealthy cycle repeats with a new woman at its centre.

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  17. I feel the only thing wrong with feminism is the name, because the term ‘feminism’, at first glance seems to suggest women’s superiority.

    But when you read opinions of most feminists, you find they’re really asking for equality for all. They are ready to make a stand for men also if they feel some man/men have been treated unfairly.

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  18. Reading between the lines about the ‘practicality’ and ‘social balance’ of feminism, I think what this author is concerned about is children. If the mother does not conform to the role of sahm/cook/cleaner/etc and works and/or outsources all those jobs to others…what about those poor children who will no doubt grow up stunted, lack moral values and cause all sorts of social problems in the future as a result ? *eye roll* What feminism does is do away with these gender roles – men need not be the providers and women need not be the caregivers. But yes these roles need to be fulfilled so ideally a couple would decide for themselves which role they will take on, share or outsource based on their capabilities/interests, not based on which one has a penis… And the children will grow up just fine – what matters is not the quantity but the quality of time spent with a child.

    “or spends too much time with another man/men in order to quench her physical/emotional thirst” I don’t see what’s wrong with quenching the emotional thirst bit, is talking a crime…? Cheating though is a betrayal of your partner’s trust whether you are a man or a woman. Feminism has nothing to do with this.

    As for selfish/materialistic love think about dowry – if there is a more disgusting, blatant money-grab in the name of love and marriage I have not seen it!

    I too am curious about the flaws of feminism according to the author…

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  19. I have a question for the LW.
    With regards to his/her question – “Don’t you think that even if feminism has to come in our society it needs redifining in an elaborate way?”
    I am stuck big time wondering how the LW will ‘redefine’ feminism in an ‘elaborate’ way.
    While reading all the questions put by LW, I felt that he/she does not understand what exactly is feminism.
    I hope LW is now clearly aware of what is feminism, thanks to your lucid and lovely answers IHM.
    You have so much patience.
    I would go so far as to suggest the LW sit down and try to redefine femnism in whichever ways possible, and it might help him/her understand what exactly is feminism. LW might, as a consequence, actually find answers to all his/her questions in the post.

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  20. I feel like she/he was talking a whole different language compared to you. Definitely the definition of feminism does not seem to have come through to this reader. I hope your eloquent response will be convincing to him/her!

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  21. Although the email writer claims to be a non-believer of patriarchy, from the manner of the questions I am led to believe that even though we like to think we are not influenced by the system…or we are in some way above it, the system thrives within the walls of our brain cells!

    @IHM, your response was fabulous.

    Like

  22. Hi IHM, I have been reading your posts regularly now and some of them even inspired to write my own but this new post on feminism reminded me of 80s from where the idea of feminism took birth. Feminism is all about liberation — liberation from the oppressiveness of the patriarchal society, which is always ready to dictate terms to women. Feminism believes in equal rights for human beings irrespective of caste, creed, culture and gender. Something that has been deliberately overlooked in patriarchal society and that too with a strong reason of course. (that could be the new topic for my post). While the questions/doubts shocked me your answers instilled new life in me. Keep up the good work. P.S. Hope to meet you soon in person.

    Like

  23. What does a feminist bring to the marriage table?

    1. A mutually respectful relationship where partners can look to each other for support – financial and emotional instead of playing predefined roles of provider and care taker.

    2. Someone who will respect your space and individuality.

    3. A role model for the children on importance of self respect, being fair, tolerant of different choices and being independent.

    4. Genuine love and respect instead of the forced charade that goes on in name of “traditions”

    5. No guarantee of hot home made chapatis.

    What does patriarchy bring to the marriage table?

    1. Distorted view of self. Pressure to fit into pre-assigned roles

    2. Unfair treatment of one spouse by everyone else who does not belong in the relationship

    3. Power games and emotional blackmail

    4. Children growing up with the same distorted view of the world

    5. Intolerance and hatred.

    6. Guaranteed Hot chapatis .

    I think the letter writer is focusing only on the chapatis that “may” be missing from a marriage involving a feminist. I say may because you can still make chapatis yourself or buy them from outside or you may just not care that your spouse makes chapatis. Or your feminist spouse loves to cook and still makes chapatis everyday. No guarantee though.

    Like

    • For many people, hot chapatis represent the primacy that the husband gets in traditional marriages.

      So many people check in the the bride after the wedding. Is she cooking? Is the husband being fed and taken care of? Is she following the rules of her new “family”?

      The parents of the bride don’t dare to ask the son-in-law if their daughter is happy and being taken care of by her new “family”.
      This after the girl’s parents have forked out huge sums of money to foot the wedding so the ladkewale have no cause for complaint.
      Arrgh, this really does sound like a rant against big, bad patriarchy.🙂

      Like

      • At the least one would expect that the bride’s parents paying for the wedding + forking out a huge dowry is the “payment” for their daughter to be waited on hand and foot for the rest of her life🙂

        Like

    • Hey no fair. I make hot chapatis and love them. Can’t eat them cold myself. And I am as feminist as they come, with all the red markers.

      Like

  24. No body can guarantee any thing for any body for that matter of any special status – You might have seen that Cast Based Reservations are vehemently opposed by many. If you would like to include “Women” there, then most of the women oppose it because they don’t want to be branded like “A” or “B” or some thing. I took your question and asked as it is in Quora – a leading social media site and let me see the reaction. You too can become a member there Quora.com

    Like

  25. Is there a guarantee that India will be better off with the current patriarchal structure? There are no guarantees about anything but then we are asking the wrong question.
    Is there a guarantee that women in this country will be better off if treated like humans?
    Yes, there is.

    Like

  26. The question about “What do feminists bring to the marriage table” made me laugh out loud, and then it made me think.

    The fact that someone needs to ask this question just reeks of the patriarchy that they are benefiting from. Misogyny in our society ensures that women consistently bring subservience and meekness to the marriage table, which enables the misogynists to thrive because their every need is being met at the expense of someone else’s well-being. Feminism is a threat to this security that such men have enjoyed for so many years. When women are suddenly treated as equals and as human beings, there are two people sitting at the marriage table instead of just one. The person who previously had all their desires catered to now needs to compromise and behave as selflessly as they once expected the women to. This sudden loss of entitlement is what spurs them to ask such childish questions. Entitled, misogynistic people always expect society to provide them with some kind of reward, simply because of what they are born as. When society recognizes that giving them this reward for no reason other than the fact that they are born as men is unfair, they behave like spoiled brats who just had candy taken away. And why wouldn’t they? The old system worked just fine for them. It ensured that they could live as they pleased, with no consequences for anyone except the women who are constantly treated as second class citizens. But why should the plight of women matter to them, after all, they’re not considered human beings anyway.

    By asking this question, the LW is just asking, “If you won’t let me reap the rewards of the previous patriarchal system, what unfair advantage will feminism give me, as a man? What do you mean it expects me to compromise? You mean it WON’T give me an unfair advantage? Well then, this system is just inherently biased against men, because it won’t provide me incentives just for being born with outdoor plumbing!” Cue childish temper tantrum.

    (Ironically, these same men who talk about how women must “bring something to the marriage table” are the ones who whine about how men are expected to do the same thing for the behest of “selfish” women. The delicious hypocrisy, eh?)

    Like

    • Amazing response, I like how you are really spelled out the intention and mindset of such LW who pretend to act “oh so intellectual and trying to understand” but are basically blind to immense advantage they have had in life just because they were born as men.

      Like

  27. It is weird, disappointing and unfortunate to read what people think and understand about women’s rights! Feminism is not just an ideology or thought.. it is about human rights… about survival!
    Really sensible and thought provoking replies from IHM… But, if a person can read through your blog and then write this email, I am really doubtful if he has the open mind to understand your replies and change his views!

    Like

  28. “Can anyone guarantee that absolute empowerment of women thru feminism will be healthy and efficient enough to improve the social balance and not give rise to any new social problems or be a potential threat in future?”

    Everyone above has given polite responses to this LW, but honestly he just makes my blood boil with his blatant ignorance. If I was having this conversation in person, I would walk out than argue with someone with such mentality. Yep I am one of those angry feminist who doesn’t care about being nice/sweet/polite just to not offend any one. So LW listen I don’t give a rat’s ass about any social balance, it is basically your code word for all the nice and cushy little advantages enjoyed by the Indian man – god’s best gift to humanity he would like to believe. Social balance built on the foundation of crushing women’s dreams/desires/choices/voice/lives over multiple generations has no use for me, don’t care if it crumbles down. As a woman I want my equal rights now and today. It is already too late and not waiting for every tom/dick/harry to agree with me and get their bloody lifetime guarantee. These are my rights as a human being, not some toaster with money back warranty. Nobody in history has gotten power or improved their lives by praying, begging and hoping the oppressor will finally agree with their point of view by taking pity on them. They have fought for it every step of the way, people died for it, it got ugly, but that is how change is made. So I don’t care if female empowerment comes gift warped with healthy, efficient social balance with no potential threat or it is ugly, deadly and painful, I still want it at any cost because that is what is best for me as a woman. What is your worst case scenario with female empowerment anyway? Men may not get three hot meals without lifting a finger, free caretaker for their parents and someone who will endlessly sacrifice all her dreams to make him fulfill his. Well this is not exactly an end of the world nuclear disaster, Indian men can very well survive it.

    Like

    • “Men may not get three hot meals without lifting a finger, free caretaker for their parents and someone who will endlessly sacrifice all her dreams to make him fulfill his. Well this is not exactly an end of the world nuclear disaster, Indian men can very well survive it.” – lol🙂

      To the LW,

      why are so worried about feminism in it’s “purest” form anyways? what is this social balance you are talking about which I’ve never seen balanced my entire life? are you afraid that men will not get any subservient wives anymore?? do you think that women can misuse the “power” just like men did all these years??

      Like

    • Well, it would be a disaster for middle class India if wives stop being subservient and self-sacrificing.

      Many, many Indian middle class wives are like Sreedevi’s character in English Vinglish. They put their families first, throttle their own dreams to enable the family to have comfortable, hassle-free lives.

      The husband chases his next promotion, knowing that his old mother is being
      taken care of and the kids have been sent to school.

      He comes home knowing that a hot meal and a clean house waits for him. Then, stomach full and ego massaged, he congratulates himself on being such a good “provider” like the husband in English Vinglish.

      What would middle class men do if wives suddenly demanded a seat at the table? Their pampered lives would fall apart.

      Like

  29. It is very important to respond calmly to anyone who does not understand feminism. If they are asking or debating, it means they at least care to question their status quo. Even if they don’t, loosing patience will do no good.
    We live in a society where most people live in dark ages. If one takes a step ahead, he yet is far away from a progressive stand that you take right now, still a step closer to you.
    My intention is not to sympathize with anyone who does not understand the value of equal rights for women. It is to make people understand what we stand for. Many men and women, whom I have known to dislike feminism, do so because they associate it with a sense of women supremacy over men.
    They are not outright sexists. Calling them one will not help the cause. May be explaining to them what feminism stands for can do the trick.
    Feminism is not about advocating to go to pubs, getting drunk or clothing scantily. It is about accepting that women are adults and they are free to make choices for themselves, good or bad as they might seem to you. Chandra Kocchar and Indra Nooyi is also what feminism could be.
    Not everyone at the stronghold of feminism has understood the concept either. Do you not know young girls who relate feminism with promiscuity and nothing more. Do you not know working women who call themselves feminist but look down upon those who chose to become a home maker instead. Or boys who take feminism as becoming sissy.
    People have different views. We can advocate ours and make them understand why a simple definition of “Freedom of choice and equality for all” summarizes the spirit of feminism. We are learning and maturing, as are others. Choosing the right way to fight makes all the difference between winning and loosing.
    2 ¢ of a 24 year old.

    Like

    • I completely agree. I was watching a debate on TV about “feminists” vs “family women” and most women in the latter group viewed feminists as just women who drink, smoke, and dress indecently. They all agreed that girls should study & work, and agreed about reforms against dowry, infanticide, widow ill-treatment, etc., but didn’t really think feminism had much to do with these (one person said that these changes happened due to education and not feminism). Most viewed ‘feminism’ as a movement which advocated drinking & smoking, and breaking up marriages.

      Also, there are many people like LW who wonder if social order (mostly referring to the stability of marriages) would be disturbed in the long run by allowing “equal opportunities to every gender”, or if men/women should just have different roles (like how things were in the past) and they should fulfill those roles without questioning. I don’t think that most of these people hate or disrespect women; in fact, they admire highly educated or successful women. They just don’t see how these women would fit in a marriage.

      Like

  30. Pingback: “Please help! How do I prove to my guy friends that women are equal to men? “ | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  31. Thank you IHM for posting my mail in your blog. Immense appreciation and respect for your replies. I must admit that though I like your responses, sometimes, your style of writing is way more appealing than the content itself. Your response was very important for me and believe it or not but they have cleared out at least 70% of the doubts & confusions I had about in life regarding feminism and feminists. Infact the answer to the 1st question where you acknowledged feminism as a fair, honest and practical approach towards life defines it all.
    Rest of the questions were just to make sure that I can understand the right notion of the messege which you are trying to convey through your blog. Your patience and perseverance is commendable.
    As for the questions you and other commentators have raised for me, I’ll reply back to all of them as soon i’m able to repair my laptop (writing in a tablet is a bit uncomfortable) and get some free time to sit, think and write accordingly to them in your blog. Don’t want to rush as I may be misunderstood by many again.
    Special thanks to sampurna, pallav and v for their lovely comments. I’d also like to thank dhwanis, renkiss, transcendist, ramblinginthecity, the purple sheep, bbdlite, aarti, roshni, random musings by swati, clueless, amit, and sushma for their insightful response.
    Logical reasonings/debating, statements based on facts, intelligent/stupid advices/queries, etc. are all welcome for discussion, Thank you!

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