Sharing an email. My response in red.
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.
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?
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?]