In an episode of Bojack Horseman, I saw some smart satire when a news panel discussion on sexual harassment was going on, while the participants in the discussion were four to five old white males. Now, I have seen this satire turn into reality!
If you do not know yet, Kirori Mal College (KMC) was having a panel discussion on “Inspiring Stories Around
Us” and two-thirds of the panelists were men! Ironically, the discussion was being organised by KMC’s Women’s Development Cell (WDC)(yes, let that sink in).
The event faced backlash from many circles in the University of Delhi (DU) but the people who are speaking in its defence meekly say, “Hey, we promote equality. So why should gender even matter? Male or female, everyone is nice.”
Why should gender even matter? Well, gender has mattered immensely for centuries – from the time of early “man” to the 21st century of “man-made” goods – so we definitely cannot turn a blind-eye to the concept.
A ridiculous creation in this century with a rise in feminist movements, has been the word “meninist”. For these so-called meninists, “feminism” is synonymous with
a derogatory remark. “Aye haye, yeh toh feminist hai (Oh no, she is a feminist)” is something that I have been hearing for
a long time, and it is a bleak realisation that I have stayed silent with such sentences being thrown around.
I also feel guilty for saying things like “Femi-
Nazi” or “don’t be such a pussy”. When I was
corrected by people, it is not like I accepted them the way a disciple listens
to Jesus. I made a face and gave my arguments – “Hey, I just say this casually but I believe in equality. I’m not sexist.” Yet, the very fact that I found calling someone
a Nazi “casual” shows you where the problem lies.
Similarly, people are quick to jump on
the bandwagon with arguments like “But I
respect my mother/sister/girlfriend/wife” when their casual sexism is called out. But that is your basic obligation as a good human being. You will not get a trophy for that! Why does a woman even have to be related to you or another man for you, to respect her? What people need to understand is that despite all this ideological respecting, they might still falter. It is perfectly all right, as long as you wish to grow by listening, and trying to understand what the other person is saying.
Another ridiculous argument that I have heard proud and “woke” meninists to be making is biological in nature. “These women want itna (so much) equality, then why do they need paid maternity leave?” Yes, sure, women are consciously craving to get menstrual cycles and nine months
of pregnancy pain, right? This argument again prompts some people to look at women as sensitive creatures and we start sympathising or pedestalising, when what we clearly need to do is empathise. In this age, when we can point out problematic arguments with counter-arguments, we can only hope that everyone listens to all opinions, and they accept their mistakes if they say something baseless. Alas! this seems Utopian, since right now, people like the meninists only seem to feel attacked at the drop of a hat (as if they are the target of attack for anything that concerns women).
It is not hard to be a feminist. It is fine if you do not want to share Instagram stories, if you do not wish to join feminist marches, some elitist feminist organisations, or a WDC with an all-male panel. You can, at the least, try learning. You can be a feminist, most importantly, by just not accepting all the problematic stereotypes and jokes that have
been passed on through generations. It is not as if without the sexist jokes, without calling a cowardly person a “pussy”, or calling a feminist a “Nazi”, your world would be shattered.
Trust me, it will not. It is fine to not be a youth activist or influencer. But if you can consciously try to correct “meninist” notions from the past, so that future generations can learn better, I think that is quite enough, for now.
Shaurya Singh Thapa