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For Feminism’s Sake

“There is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.”
Virginia Woolf

From a catchy slogan by Gloria Steinem, I had my tryst with the idea of feminism. In those high school days, all I knew was to modify the slogan, ‘A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle’—from this hardcore feminist statement into a universal maxim: ‘A life without music is just like underwear without elastic.’ Everywhere I would mark and engrave this line, on school desks, notebooks and walls, as if the world would go naked as the elastic-less underwear fell, if not for my self-righteousness.

Feminist for Feminism’s Sake
This is the age of cardioconnection
Image from Anonymous ART of Revolution
Gloria Steinem had re-quoted it from one of her teachers, who stated, “Man needs God like fish needs a bicycle.” Then, I was so naïve to interpret the nuances of women emancipation and their thoughts.

State of Affairs

Now, I am clueless about the movement. Possibly this is because I expect too much from those people who stress on a women’s world—or an equal world, though pitiably they fail us and much aggravated by male nightmare, so to say. There might be progress, undoubtedly, in thoughts and theories in universities, but those are only as good as the number of students in classrooms. We know there have been newer endeavour as evident from the gender studies and the like, but I am considering it only from a layperson’s perspective. How would a woman on the street grasp the idea of certain social and cultural constructions? How should we realise it? Then, the movement is as well always West centric, contributing more to my disinterest and academic allergy.

We get suffrage, liberation and sex wars as some sort of cultural trickle-down effects from the west. The lack of originality in us, living in one of the most regions in the world, is also sometimes too blatant.

There are also so many activists who take that objectification and commodification of women is synonymous to emancipation, as obvious are they in advertising and porn industry.What would Clara Zetkin, if she was alive, think about them? On the other hand, even if those activists who read Karl Marx’s manifesto of ‘The Fetishism of the Commodity and the Secret Thereof’ would keep finding the holes in the system, because we live in intolerable societies that exist on relativity. 

However, these perspectives might be faulty with the ever-rising themes and expression of sexuality in popular media. In the present scenario, though, it is their lack of comprehensive and accessible work and subsequently their conviction deficiency, which make the concept so uninspiring. Ideally, the philosophy blazes with the fire of ways to accentuate women power, with their howl for equal opportunities.

Yet, I do not see why they would strive for equality, when they can outclass us in several aspects of our existence. The ICICI Bank Ltd’s CEO Chanda Kochchar and the legendary Simone de Beauvoir, just taken randomly, are exception. They hail from two different corners of a society and this fact illustrates the meaning of sexual competition, while making some sort of an equilibrium from two opposite schools of thought.

A quick glance. Mary Wollstonecraft, the British feminist’s essay, ‘A Vindication of the Rights of Woman: with Strictures on Political and Moral Subjects’ (1792), is usually considered as one of the earliest works in feminism. However, some historians attribute it to those from Bettisia Gozzadini, an academician from 13th-century Italy; yet she had to lecture from behind a screen! A female professor was unimaginable in those days apparently. Nowadays, Femen, the hardcore protest group, is leading the radical movements in Europe and elsewhere, with their motto of ‘sextremism’, though some people are against their allegedly obnoxious topless protests.

Feminist for Feminism’s Sake
Sex, Interchange and Quote-ship
Again, historians have marked three waves of the movement but elaborating them would be another sleep-inducing academic exercise. Feminism deals a lot about equality but we are not equal in all along. Still, we should admit it. We are two different animals speaking the same language. This does not imply there should be supremacy. My lack of expression is causing a contradiction here. Still, I would re-state that we are what we are, no more, no less. As a man, would it be sexist to say only the fittest would survive? It would depend a lot on each individual. You have to blame yourself if you cannot get up after falling. Again, you have to, if you cannot retort.

Hometown Blues

When the world is laid bare, we cannot simply overlook the condition in my native place. We would raise our head and tell everyone that our women are so equal; unlike in other parts of India, where being a girl is synonymous to getting a curse. It is just like India is boasting of being the largest democracy. So, we would be missing the wood for the trees if we really believe in this statement of equality and importance. Male chauvinism is seemingly a way of our collective life. 

Side note: The other day in Imphal, a research fellow was killed and tossed on a roadside. The photo of her lifeless body, with charred face and arms, was nauseating with social media enthusiasts making no discretion whatsoever to have some decency. As usual, we have this kneejerk reaction of calling general strikes and then it would be unsurprising if the leading demonstrators sell themselves off cheaply to the manipulative yet hopeless government.

Report Card

Last year, there were never-ending reports of domestic violence every month in one way or the other, with the women always on the receiving end. Some reports indicate the domestic assault cases in the town are as well rising unabated. What could be the reason, if not for the ridiculous comparison with mainland India, to say our women are more than bed warmers in a severely conflict-torn society? It sounds like we are bragging just to cover up our impotency. The fact is that the womenfolk are also happily submitting themselves to what, almost anything because that is the culture, that is the tradition, that is something that makes us look good in front of others. What would you expect from a highly unstable society?

I would love to believe the thought propagated by a Manipuri socio-politico-cultural group, the Universal Friendship Organisation, or UFO, in short. They say we are evolving continually and one day, all the people in the world would speak only one language. I dream, this would come true. Right now, we are in some unavoidable circumstances displaying a banner that reads more like a sexual crisis. Even if we speak the same language, men arrive from Venus, and women from Mars and the resulting conflicts are obvious: sexual discrimination, movement for women emancipation, sex wars and conflicts and what not. What do you think we should do to interpret coexistence for the sake of everybody’s welfare?

Ignoring what Henry Kissinger had to say about the battle of the sexes, there are so many people who the womenfolk would be compelled to challenge and seek answers from. From the likes of Sigmund Freud who boasted of penis power to those typical man of a patriarchal society, the list of obstruction is endless. It is all about individual power to me, though I belong to a highly community-based orthodox society. I should admit the person sitting close to me is just another person, and I would not even care to put on a microscope or telescope to check the sexual organs and orientation.

Footnote

The likes of Carolyn Kizers and Marge Piercys would help in carrying the message forward. Yet, we know even after more than thousands of years of existence, we are not sure how we can live together, if not for the useless socially-sanctioned institution of marriages and craps. Perhaps, the movement needs more voice, more from outside the deadly boring universities and colleges. In my native place, the poetess-triumvirate of Thoibi, Binodini and Pramodini had made a mark but there has been no remarkable change. Would it be good, if the movement steers away from foreign-origin ideologies and starts directly from some firm native socioeconomic and politico-cultural foundation? You bet!


Feminist for Feminism’s Sake
Inspire and lead


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