Friday, July 06, 2012


At the beach
Girl 1: I got this new sexy bikini that will make the guys go wild!
Girl 2: Cool! You should have worn it today.
Girl 1: I am! I am wearing it inside my robe.
Girl 2: Why don't you take off your robe and show it then?
Girl 1: What are you saying?!! I'd die of embarrassment!
- Random strip found years ago in some edition of Mad Magazine

A friend recently accused me of confusing my people pleasing tendencies with feminism. Maybe I was just trying to score some points with the opposite sex by coming out with it. While I welcome any points scored, I have to defend my stance as a little less selfish. But to address his point, this post is about the things that make the idea of feminism look bad.

Lets be clear, feminism, like affirmative action is very important. There could be a day in the future when differences in gender and race are treated like straight versus curly hair, but to get there, the unevenness that exists today needs to be balanced and therefore feminism has to exist right now. To say that biases in gender and race do not exist in the work place and in society currently is to be in complete denial and ignorance of the large number of violating crimes that happen everyday. It is true that we are better off now than the 1950s but it is still not where it needs to be, so we can boast of an equalized social environment. 

Now that that is out of the way, the real purpose of this post is to address the nutty things that people say and do to impede the feminist movement in the name of feminism. The same analogs exist with issues of racial and economic equality but I will leave you to draw those parallels. 

"...because women can make the possible impossible... impossible possible"
Feminist stereotype from Rang De Basanti

While it is true that women have to be the torch bearers in the feminist movement, they can end up being its bane too. I love it that women exercise the liberty to score better in examinations, drink harder, stay out longer and dress to fit their imagination. But many find it hard to let go of some old school values that favor them, and mostly that is just selfish. An appropriate gentleman still needs to exist to pick up the bill, drive her around, open the door, lift the weights and assemble the Ikea furniture. Even if those are given up, it still needs to be a male knee that goes down in a marriage proposal. 

The romance battlefield has been the biggest area of failure for true feminism. A female friend recently told me how she really wanted to get married but preferred to find someone on her own rather than her parents involve themselves in the matter. 'I want to be in love. I want someone to kneel and ask me to marry him after which I will say yes. I want someone to chase me first', she said. I asked her what she would do in return. 'I will treat him like a king', she responded. I was a little puzzled with why a king would ever have to do a begging-dog routine but i let the matter die down. If we need our women to truly equalize, we need to get rid of women-imposed social rituals of self-flattery. Everyone loves to be treated like a princess, don't get me wrong, on my first visit to Magic Kingdom even I wanted my nails and hair done. But if we expect to be treated equally, then we need to return the same; it is not fair to expect equality where it is needed and ignore it where inequality works in our favor. While we bring our daughters up with the brain-washing idea of them being the Snow-Whites whose lives will be forever secured by some Prince Charming, that creates serious supply and maintenance issues in his highness' department. You can still chose to be a princess but make sure that your fairy tale is not someone else's responsibility; they have their own Shrek stories to look after. 

Ranjani often uses the term modern dress Mahalaxmi to describe women that are dressed to celebrate what a liberalized world allows them but still carry kitchen-bound minds on the inside. The Mad mag joke on top describes a classic case. While it is really hard to break the mold of eons of social suppression, nobody else but you have to do it. Chivalry still remains a predominantly male trait that is more expected and enforced rather than rejected as an embarrassment to female independence. 

Gender bias is a serious issue. It has to be countered in attitude and that reflects not in the club meetings or the pink ribbons but in the finer aspects; in day to day choices to be independent. Step up. Ask a guy out, there is not a bigger turn on - trust me. Split bills. Be neutral at work. Stay calm, the world has enough crazy people. Plan together. Love independently. 

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