I got called a female chauvinist last evening (actually my writing was called a female equivalent of chauvinism – the assumption that chauvinism is male by default was curious). While I do not respond to all accusations/ name-calling towards me, this one gave the final nudge publish the post I’ve left lying in my drafts for so long.
What is my feminism?
A good friend once asked me why feminists fight so much among themselves. For one who has been following any kind of –ism, it’s natural to know that definitions are subjective and open to interpretations. Feminism is no different. For this reason, there is no consensus about what feminism should mean (if at all it should mean the same thing to all).
As someone who appreciates subjective opinion (and debate of objectionable opinions), I venture here to define what feminism means to me. Feminism is the pursuit of equality: equality of rights, fair treatment, reasonable expectations, unequivocal respect and due share of voice. My feminism is about pointing out the bias in the status quo and debate for positive change. It is about challenging patriarchy and seeking a more gender-neutral public (and private) space.
Why is it important?
I’ve been told several times that feminism is no more relevant – women can vote, pilot flights and marry the man of their choice – therefore, we must all drop the feminist hullabaloo and go on with our business. Another argument from the feminism-is-no-more-needed brigade is that women are equal to men now and talking feminism creates a wrong impression that there is indeed inequality.
Let me explain this with anecdotal evidence. Someone I worked for, a man I had immense respect for as a professional, went to a conference once. He was totally underwhelmed at the discussions that happened there and was complaining about all the speakers and their incompetence. However, when he spoke about a lady, who happens to be the CMO of a major corporation, he said “I don’t know who she had to fu(k to become the CMO. She has nothing else going for her”. If that isn’t enough reason for you to believe there is still bias that needs to be challenged, I can go on with the anecdotes. Or would you rather I point you in the direction of some research?
Then why rant about religion, caste etc.?
Because they are all equally important. None of us are fools to think all women have the same difficulties or the same privileges. Dalit women, homos3xua! women, urban (/rural) women, Muslim women, obese women have all their own set of issues that need to be spoken about and dealt with. Perhaps, the reason why one feminist has an entirely different point of view about a certain issue from another is that there are very many layers that need to be taken care of.
While white, middle class feminists in the Europe are worried about how feminist is high heels, there are a group of them fighting to be able to compete at the Olympics. The reasons priorities change are various – but almost always comprise of religion, caste, culture, history, sexual orientation and the like.
Writing a feminist account arising from being a woman alone (if that is even possible) would be half-baked and useless.
Why do I do movie reviews?
If you haven’t already read the disclaimer on my blog, let me explain this to you. I do not treat myself as the sole authority on goodness/ badness of films, in fact the technicalities are sometimes irrelevant to me.
As the blog header points, the only thing that is of concern to me is the representation of women (femininity, female perspectives etc.). We’ve all read enough research to show that films go beyond entertainment and help shape the cultural and political leanings of the society. I believe I have a point of view that arises from education and experience, is legitimate and is meant to begin a healthy debate. I don’t give scores to films, I don’t rank them on any scale, I don’t even ask you not to watch a film. If at all, I only ask you to watch a few films I’ve found interesting – from my (by now sufficiently disclosed) ideological perspective.
So what makes me right?
My point of view – derived from observation, reading, and debate. While I always argue for equality and fair representation, never once have I argued that women are better than men at anything or must be held higher. That, is in fact, the opposite of what I endeavor to argue.
Now that you’ve heard me out about my feminism, if you still want to debate, bring it on, I say!