It disturbs me when female chauvinism passes off for Feminism. Female Chauvinism works in pretty much the same way that Male Chauvinism does. Among other things – it can assume superiority over another another sex, it stereotypes and begins to expect certain behaviour because one is of a certain sex. So if you’re a woman, you MUST not be a housewife. And that, is not feminism. To constantly compare men and women, and draw up a little checklist – that is also not feminism. To insist that men are incapable of change or sensitivity is also not feminism. Women don’t deserve rights because they are as good as Men. They deserve because they are human beings, regardless of how competent they are. The response to objectification of women – is not to objectify men.
What also bugs me is when somebody points their index finger at you and says you have betrayed the feminist movement. To me the only ways you can betray a feminist movement are these – To deny women choices and opportunities. To deny women their right to make the choices or access the opportunities. To deny women their rights. To not respect the rights of others.
I include others in this in a very generic way. For me, it’s crucial to understand that minorities continue to be denied their rights, or that there is a hierarchy that identities are slotted into because of patriarchy. If you’re looking for an enemy – it’s patriarchy – not men. Working at the field level one considers creating two kinds of spaces. One is a separate space, and the other collaborative. The seperate space is where women interact with each other and find a safer, more constructive and less judgmental space. The collaborative space is the one where they partner with others – men and movements to reconstruct identities or engage with institutions. On similar lines at a very practical level, one identifies two sorts of needs – Immediate and Strategic.
But nowhere does this involve judging the choices women make. If you want to study the choices women make and determine that no choice is really free – feel free to do so. But don’t attach a value to the choice. Don’t rate a choice as more feminist or less feminist. Yes, one does realize that women when they make the choice of staying home are not always make a free choice – that they are largely influenced by the media and family who tell them what good women are supposed to do – but why insult these women? Why are we benchmarking success according to patriarchal values? Worse still, why do we look at sexuality through patriarchal lens, and dismiss expression as raunch? (In the case of latter – it’s a series of carefully constructed parallels that are then passed off as analogies.)
Feminism is not a monolith. Nobody owns it. However, to pass off some sort of chauvinism as Feminism just amounts to hijacking a larger framework. The more we walk away from Equalism, the further we will alienate men and women from what feminism is fundamentally about. Outside of academic and media discourse, men and women have functional relationships. Feminism has to be more relevant to empowering women to make choices that they want to in these relationships – which really can’t happen if the “sisterhood” is laughing behind her back on her choices.
(Links via Nanopolitan)