Thursday, January 04, 2007


This post was inspired by this blog by Shanky. I have been wanting to say a few things that I think about feminism and this looks like a good opportunity as any.

The first point that Shanky makes is that men and women are NOT equal. Maybe, maybe not. The point is debatable. Are we physically different? Yes, a mere visual inspection will tell you that. Are we mentally different? Yes, a days experience can tell you that. But the entire thing is not that simple. Physical dissimilarity is what it is and we may not be able to do much about it. However, mental differences are another matter.

The topic is amenable to the eternal nature versus nurture debate. Are men really from mars and women really from Venus? Or is it just that we are brought up on two different planets? Is it that if our planets were swapped right from the time of birth, men may behave like women and women like men?

I don’t think I can answer that question. Then again, the fact remains that whatever the cause, men and women ARE different in the present world.

The feminists probably assume that this difference is man made and not natural and hence can be done away with. It is certainly plausible.

That is one way of looking at the issue.

I tend to look at it in another way. What do they mean when they say equal? I am often reminded of the Doordarshan propaganda advertisement showing a girl child and a boy child of the same family. The boy child is given good food, clothing and education while the girl child is denied all of that. Some feminists talk about this kind of inequality. I’m sure everyone agrees with them.

The next thing that comes to my mind is personal freedom - the freedom to stay out at night, the freedom to live alone, the freedom to choose a profession, the freedom think and act certain ways among others. Obviously, men have more freedom than women. Some feminists want this kind of equality. Some people agree with them, some don’t.

Next come the things that break stereotypes and traditional power equations. Women who are hairy, muscular. Women who are bosses. Women who command. Women who demand that the husband do his share of housework. There are feminists who would support such things and they are the ones who make men uncomfortable. Because men lose their power over women.


quote from Shanky’s blog:

What's a man if he can't stand up for himself and for the women in his life?
What's a woman if she can't divine the secrets of the hearts of the men in her life without any words being spoken?

Stereotypes and power equations. I can see them clearly. If you can’t, let me ask you this. Why is it that men should always be strong? Why is it that women should be diviners of the secrets of men’s hearts? Where are we getting those notions from? Popular culture? Stereotypes built up over years of repetition? Just because these things have been happening for the entire recorded history does not mean that they are what define ‘natural’ human behavior. Even if they do, what right does that give us to stop certain individual from deviating from these ‘normal’ modes of behavior (unless of course there might be other objections like criminal behavior, which is an entirely different debate altogether?)

1 comment:

  1. I liked your measured response, which says pretty much what I want to, without my 'hyper' tone !