It is almost like asking the clown at the circus to do the trapeze act. Of course I do know many of the clowns are quite adept at it. But is this one?? Now that is a million dollar question. I know I know. All this talk is very cryptic and baffling. Right?? You don’t usually come upon a blog titled ‘Feminism’ and find beneath it references to clowns and trapeze acts and what not. Anyways right now you have had the pleasure of doing just that, so let me explain. Normally I stay away from serious stuff (trapeze acts) and stick with the silly and the mundane (the clown act). Playing the fool and churning out tongue in cheek posts are more my forte and of course inflicting sad, mysterious and meaningless poetry on the unsuspecting public and befuddling them.
In spite of holding just such a reputation, Indianhomemaker, that excellent blogger whose blogs on just about everything echoes my own thoughts (especially about DILs and Joint Family and the like) has deemed fit to tag me to write my take on feminism. So officially certified clown or not, with the gauntlet thrown, the brave woman that I am, am accepting the challenge and trying to attempt that adroit trapeze act. Indianhomemaker (here) and Nimmy (here) between themselves have written excellent posts on their takes on feminism. And Manju (here) has added another aspect of it. All of them echo my own thoughts to a T. So what I write here is only that little extra, purely from a personal angle.
Since the time I have been tagged (I am sorry I am late Indianhomemaker, I have been otherwise occupied not to mention the erratic net connection) I have been frantically trying to google for anything I can find on Feminism. I have found some varying views here, here and here. Now all the views and theories have my head spinning. “Feminism is a belief in the political, social, and economic equality of women. It is a discourse that involves various movements, theories, and philosophies which are concerned with the issue of gender difference, advocate equality for women and campaign for women’s rights and interests.” says Wikipedia. Well this is something that I understand and so my spinning head comes mercifully to a standstill.
When I was just a kid, and please remember the time I am speaking of is almost four decades back, Mother used to talk to us about her own childhood and the little thoughts that came to her as a child. As the youngest among six children of whom four were older brothers, she was a pampered girl who got her way most of the time. In spite of being the indulged little one of the family, she did not, naturally so in keeping with the times, enjoy the same freedom as her brothers. She couldn’t do most of the things she longed to, for instance climb trees, an innocent past-time any child would like to indulge in, which was frowned upon as not becoming a girl by the powers that be, like many others of the same nature. All this made her wish with all her heart that she were born a boy. She daydreamed of cutting her hair short and wearing shorts and becoming a boy so that she could enjoy the life the boys seemed to. She even wished to be reborn only as a boy in her next birth so that none could stop her from enjoying life to the hilt with indiscriminate use of, ‘Don’t do this, don’t do that. Remember you are a girl’ at every step of her life. It is another matter of course that she followed the same approach with nary a change when her own daughters arrived on the scene.
I must have been around 9 or ten, a wisp of a girl, when I heard from Mother about her wish to have been born as the male of the species. To me, something about it somehow did not seem right. I just could not agree with it. The introspective child that I was (and still am, though no longer a child) I found out what it was soon enough. Mother wanted to be a boy so she could live life the way she wanted. What about me?? I rejected her argument outright. I wanted to be a girl and still be able to live life the way I wanted. Now that explains the crux of the concept of feminism for me. I want to be allowed to be myself and not let my gender come in the way of leading my life. Period.
Feminism for me is to be a girl/woman and still be able live a life of our choice and liking without gender bias rearing its ugly head. The way I live, the dress I wear, the career I choose, places I visit, hobbies I take up, the justice I am given… in short anything, should never be dependent on my gender. When I am free to lead the life I want to without being reminded, stopped or put down at every step with the argument that I am a woman then, feminism has arrived.
Feminism is not being treated as a second class citizen just for being biologically and emotionally different from men, but being accepted as equal in spite of the difference. It is the complete ban on the use of the words ‘No you cannot, because you are a girl’ So?? So what if I am a girl/woman?? How does it make me any less of a human being?? I am a girl/woman and proud to be one too. As a girl/woman I am different from boys/men in n number of ways, but in no way am I any lesser. I celebrate that difference, but don’t make me feel lesser because of the difference, because I am NOT inferior in any way, just different. Don’t deny me my opportunities, chances, just because I was born a female baby.
Feminism for me is doing what one likes for one’s own satisfaction, not proving a point to anyone, not even to the men. I don’t believe it is necessary to go out and do everything that a man does and excel in it to prove that I am equal to the men and a feminist. I myself am a homemaker by profession, a choice made of my own accord. And I know from experience that I am more of a feminist at heart and in practice than many women working at par with men with equal (or more) remuneration but do not have a voice of their own. By the way, if a man pulls out a chair for me or carries a bag because it is too heavy for me, I don’t see it as any weakness on my part or patronizing on theirs. I would pull out a chair or carry things among other things for any human being without concern for gender. Such things for me are merely a matter of being human and helpful.
This is my philosophy of feminism, on the basis of which I live, demanding to be treated equally at every step of my life. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I fail, but the spirit remains forever alive and kicking.
I’d also like to hear from you Vivek (I know you are busy, but whenever you find time would be okay), Rashmi and also from you Bob on your views about the topic.
And may that playful, and yet serious sprite within you keep kicking, boisterously and rightfully!!
You make me feel guilty, because I have this tag to complete, and *sigh* I know it is not going to come anywhere near to being close to the topic as all of you have done 🙂 Still I shall venture forth, perhaps this very night, and force the keyboard to work something redeemable out!!
In short, I loved the very down to earth, and no nonsense way you define feminism for yourself! Way to go, girl, way to go!!! 🙂 🙂
Thank you Usha. Down to earth and no nonsense. Yeah I like the way you have described it! 🙂 Hope to read your version soon.
P.S. Something awaits you at the blog 🙂 When time permits 🙂
Thanks so much Usha!
I like the Clown on the Trapeze(giggling). I agree with the View… I balk at being called a Feminist because I dont define feminism with “doing what the men do and proving I can do better than them”. Feminism is for me the Choice of being the Human being I can be without the trappings of “oh you cant/shouldnt do this cause you are a girl/woman”. Yes, there are things I wouldnt out of common sense, keeping in mind that being brave doesnt mean jumping into the water even when I dont know swimming, cause no matter what, we are designed differently, hence have to work with things differently. I dont demand they treat me equal either, cause its mostly a reflection of their own inadequacy if they cant treat me right. I would rather have people treat me well because they WANT to and Not because they HAVE to. The definition of equal is emperical and that means I should be in all aspects just like a Man, but I Love being a Woman. Definitely you cant compare Apples with Oranges just because both are fruits. Yes, we think differently, we are the gatherers/nurturers while they are hunters/protectors by natural evolution, but I believe we are complementary to what Men are, so JUST LET ME BE, thats what I ask for… Like you, I dont think its a weakness/patronizing if a man does things for me as long as they do it out of the goodness of their hearts without strings attached, cause thats what I would do, do things cause I can do it without strings attached.
Rashmi, it is certainly their own inadequacy that does not let men accept women as human beings. Equality merely means that I be allowed to lead my life without letting my gender get in my way. It is better that men and society (comprising of both men and those women who are bent on pulling down women for their own imagined momentary benefit) let women be free to grow the way she wants to. BTW Rashmi, I want to hear more from you. I am waiting for a full-fledged post from you.
And amen to the spirit that keeps kicking! The world often needs a hard thwack on its rear end. 😉
You said it OJ, a hard thwack on its rear end is what I have longed to give the world on more occasions than I care to remember.
Hi Shail, I came and read this yesterday, but have some connection problems, and couldn’t comment!
‘I wanted to be a girl and still be able to live life the way I wanted.’is what feminism really is. Yes we are different and yes we are not the same, all humans, men, women are different, and that’s the way we were all created.
Loved your trapeze act 🙂
@Rashnmi ‘Yes, we think differently, we are the gatherers/nurturers while they are hunters/protectors by natural evolution,’ – why have such stereotypes? Letting everybody be would mean accepting that people, including men and women, come in no stereotyped molds, women who love to drive or climb mountains, and men who love to cook, design clothes and decorate beautiful interiors would feel so lost otherwise.
IHM, Yes men and women are different, but we must be allowed the same opportunities and freedom to live and grow. You and I understand each other perfectly! 🙂
I have big problems with the word “feminism”, dont we have something called selfism or me-ism? That for me makes more sense – men are also victims of a sexist agenda ….
I’d rather follow that line from Hamlet
This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Ritu, it depends on what meaning you attribute to the word feminism. I find that there are very many definitions to it. For me it means what I have outlined, As for men being victims of sexist agenda, well aren’t all victims fighting their causes?? Let them too and emerge victorious as it will ultimately benefit all.
To be true to oneself, one has to first discover that ‘I’ which is possible only when you are allowed to be free and ‘think’. That is a luxury very few of us enjoy, either men or women.
You have got in spot on Shail – as usual. The penchant some of these feminists have to compete with men is intolerable. Live and let live – that is how I view it. I have also noticed that when you are ready to live your life the way you want it, most men — and women — will let you live it 🙂
And congratulations too – Usha has been magnanimous with her butterfly, hasn’t she been? 😀
One more thing, do you have a blog in blogger.com? I saw a link in Usha’s blog, but couldn’t view it 😦
Roopa, live and let live is a good policy. But unfortunately neither some men nor some women let you do that. And yeah, Usha has been magnanimous. Thanks!! I no longer post anything at blogger and so have closed it. That was my first place. Maybe I will reopen it and scribble something there too! 😛
@ Indianhomemaker – It does seem like stereotyping, although I was giving the general tendencies that we see in mostly(not ALL the time)
I believe the world gives you as much as you dare to ask for! Love the way you demand to live life on your terms, irrespective of your gender. Thought-provoking post.
Pallavi, thanks. There are also those who dare to ask and are not given. Let us not forget them too. 🙂
Quite a skillful trapeze act, Shail! I completely agree with your philosophy of feminism.:)
Thanks Manju. You are another of those gems I have found in blogosphere.
As long as a women knows what she wants to do, what is she upto, her strength and weaknesses, I don’t see a big issue on this. Some of the comments here clearly mentions about the weaknesses or inability of a women, not on the basis of gender but in general. That’s good to read.
I remember somewhere I read, every woman has feminine side as well as masculine side of her and the same applies to men as well. When the role is interchanged only ( I mean masculine side of women and feminine side of men) it is viewed differently in the society and both are not taken in the right spirit.
Shail…..I think it is time for you to search your Brickbats!!
Are they still there???…anyways Let me start my looooooong steps….jump….and run……
Sigh Maddy, it is natural that you don’t see a big issue in this. You are a man and you should be really empathetic to understand how a woman feels. Your freedom has been given to you as a birthright where as a woman has had to fight for it every step of the way to even reach half way. And this is not about feminine and masculine side. It is about being allowed to co-exist with dignity without being treated like a second class citizen. Of course by that I mean everyone.
Oh yes, I haven’t given up on my past-time of throwing red-bricks. You better run for cover. 😛
Shaila you have asked someone who has no opinions on almost anything to expound his views on off all things feminism. I know being a male I wont be expected to think much about it. I have been fortunate to be born in a family of progressive thinkers. My maternal grand mother was President of Local Board in the fifties. So equality in political field was already practiced. My mother is a very enlightened and strong woman, so it never entered my mind, nor was it ever drummed into me that women were somehow inferior to men. But that does not mean that I am unaware of the problems that women encounter because of their gender. Feminism as a movement was and still is necessary. It may have certain aberrations but they are insignificant compared to what it has done for women all over the world.
PS I still give my seat to women (especially the beautiful ones)
First things first Vivek. Let me tell you how relieved I am that if/when the time comes I can look forward to getting that seat to sink into gratefully while you stand. 😛
Now to the next. Sigh, I was hoping for a post from you but you have wriggled out of it in your inimitable way by settling for a comment. Koyi baat nahi, comment hi sahi. I am so glad to read about the enlightened and strong women in your family. I hope to meet your mother one day. And I so agree with your last sentences, “Feminism as a movement was and still is necessary. It may have certain aberrations but they are insignificant compared to what it has done for women all over the world.”
Hmmm… BTW by beautiful women, you don’t mean only the Aishwaryas and Sushmitas, do you?? Oh bother! There goes my seat!! 😦
Shail, I have a brother and 2 sons,which means we didn’t have a girl child to practise inequality in our house for quite some time.It helped us to share household chores without having to differentiate it as a boy thing or girl thing.
Anyways your act was good and I think that you don’t even need the safety nets.
PRG, That’s nice to note. My husband also is from a family of only brothers and no sisters. Likewise, I have only sons. 🙂 Ahh glad I could do that trapeze act well!! 🙂
Al though I know that I have missed quite a lot here! (I will read all the blogs and comment soon! I promise 😀 ) This caption ‘Feminism’ tempted me so much that I had to read this blog first 😛 (hehe how I wish my husband and dad read this blog!!! *sigh* 😛 )
Well… I feel shy to (always) say that you (my mom) speak my heart! But, I have no choice and I am forced to admit that my mom speaks my heart in a better way! I used to feel bad for not being able to write good blogs due to my poor vocabulary and lack of writing skills… but, that inferiority complex is diminishing as I read blogs like this coming from my mom. What if I don’t write?? Or why should I feel bad about my writing skills, when I have my mom doing it in a better way??
Keep up the spirit as always my mom…;)
Bubbly darling, what are mothers for?? They know what the daughters want to say and say it promptly!! 🙂
Will be writing one, but it will take some time. Its a weeklong Thanksgiving weekend so everyone is home, which means the queen needs to be in command ;), no time to sit back and think through. Will write up as soon as I am able to find my “Thinking Chair”.
Rashmi, shall wait!
i am hoping that line about your poetry was not aimed at me!! 😉 but for what its worth, i believe feminism is a non debate more and more when it comes to people like you and me. Its the rural ones who need the strength much more than we do. Things are so much more black and white in their world.
You are not alone Arch *shakes head sadly*You are not alone at all!!
BTW, I beg to differ. The strength is needed by women from ALL levels and not in any less degree for those from our background. Women in the same milieu as us have a freedom that is mostly an ‘eyewash’ one, a freedom allowed within certain limits. In contrast some of the poorer sections don’t much care for the ‘what will people think’ syndrome which is the bane of people like us, tying us down even more, in spite of our ‘education’! They have their problems, but we have ours too which should actually shock us as we are the ‘educated’ lot.
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Ok, its done. 🙂
Ok Rashmi will step in soon. Am away from home.
Sorry for being late here.
I am all for equality and do my best to practice it under all situations. It is not equality of sexes alone, but also of race, religion, nationality, etc. And that is my problem with feminism – it is equality that is the ’cause’ and many feminists lose track of that.
I am with you there Salil!
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An interesting happened today. THe person who i share my cubicle with is a woman, who also happens to be a afew years older than me. But that doens’t deter me from taking potshots at her which can rnage from faurly funny work humor to the rare some times rude ones. So she came up this morning and got a call which made her really happe. She tells me that I should wish as it’s the day.. I was confused.. her marraige anniversary just passed last week, and her birthday is long away.. so what?? i voiced the same and she tol me that it’s women’s day to which I promptly replied that “Women
‘s day is on the 8th March!” She gave me a ominous look, which will continue to haunt me and i will not name her for the sake of my own mortal safety.. And then it dawned upon me. Sh*t. So some time after that when the coast was safer, I asked her a bit about the history behind the day.. she had done her home work and them paraphrased it as the day being about equality, oppurtunity and and another big word which i cannot remember right now…
It did made me think… It is true that us men still don’t treat women as equals.. yes men and women cannot be equals, but they should be equal in rights, equal in freedom, equal in acts, equal in the choices they can make… Shouldn’t they.. doesn’t that feel right.?
Exactly Hrishi! Men and women are different. But they are both humans and as such they have or should have equal rights.