Flames of feminism

 

‘I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is,” said Rebecca West, well-known British writer and thinker. She went on to say that people called her a feminist whenever she expressed “sentiments that differentiated (her) from a doormat or prostitute.”

The very concept called ‘feminism’ underwent much evolution from the time it made its presence felt in the 19th century. A leading feminist, Elaine Showalter, identifies three phases in that evolution. First, there is what she calls the “feminine” phase [1840-1880] during which women writers imitated the dominant tradition. The feminists of this time did not dare to stand up against the men but showed that they were no less than the domineering men as far as capabilities are concerned.

In the second phase which Showalter calls the “feminist” phase [1880-1920], the feminists asserted their rights and protested vehemently against oppressions by men. It was followed by the “female” phase [1920 onwards] which focused on a rediscovery of women as they are instead of as enemies of men or as social constructs or something of the sort.

A woman is as much an individual as a man. She has all the rights that the man has. She deserves every good thing that the man gets. Real feminism should be about those rights, dignity, equality, and so on and not about childish reactions to silly men on social media or elsewhere.

Recently some women artistes in Kerala took feminism to one of its primitive phases by posting their own semi-naked photos on social media as a mark of protest against some men (boys probably) who had apparently questioned one particular artiste’s baring of her legs. This was a rather silly and very girlish reaction. Of course, the reaction came from people who looked rather like girls than mature women. When it comes from boys and girls, there is fun in it and one need not take it too seriously.

Coincidently at the same time I came across the following post on the Facebook timeline of a serious thinker and writer.


It attracted quite a few responses the most interesting of which came from a woman whom I once described as “the rage of a wildfire” after a very brief association with her on Facebook and no other connection. There is a fire in her soul which might not be “so poetic” as I described, she responded to my comment. In one of her responses to the above FB question she said candidly that she did wage a “war against patriarchy and rules for women” but added that the war is not feminism. She calls it “rebellion, women’s liberation, etc…”

What the above artistes did was just that: rebellion, and rather girlish too.

My FB feminist friend above makes it lucid enough in another part of her comment: “Feminism… is the proud embracing of femininity, and claiming its rightful place in the world, which is neither above nor below anyone or anything else.” A few pregnant lines down she says, “Looking through a wider, more holistic lens though, there exists femininity and masculinity in each of us regardless of our gender. Sometimes one is amplified and sometimes the other. This separation of womanly behaviour, feelings, etc or manly behaviour, feelings, etc, are constructs of what we have come to call the matrix… in order for the powers that be to enforce their agendas on us.”

There is fire in this feminist. But it is not the wild fire that burns one’s own clothes according to one’s own convenience [to show off beautiful legs, for example]. This is the fire of the real feminist – the real rebel a la Albert Camus. This fire is seasoned and tempered by storms and deluges over years. The young artistes may take a lesson from that. I rest my case.

 

PS. I have absolutely no issues with girls showing off their physical charms. I’m not questioning the baring indulged in by the girls in the above picture or anyone at all. I admire beauty including the feminine version of it. My concern is whether this new gen artistes will grow up from girlish rebellion into the mature rage of a wildfire.

Comments

  1. In my humble opinion, both feminism and masculism are totally discardable. Humanism only should be embraced by all the human-beings considering the fellow human-beings as equals may it be males or females or transgenders.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, that's what it should be. No one is superior to the other. Man and woman are complementary, not binary opposites. Then as you have pointed out, there are the transgenders too who have their place.

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  2. Very insightful article on feminism. This new form of feminism could be just a publicity stunt for self promotion rather than bringing attention to the gender inequality which is still prevalent in our society.

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    Replies
    1. I have argued in quite a few places that too many good things are spoilt because they are popularised. When too many unthinking people take over good things, the greatness will surely be lost. This doesn't mean that good things should remain elite. It means that the people need to start thinking a little more seriously, deeply.

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  3. It does seem like everybody has their own definition of the word 'feminism.' I think I'll stick to that which talks of equal opportunities despite the gender. :)

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    Replies
    1. For the rightly informed people, feminism is about equal rights and opportunities. The rest is aberration.

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  4. The way and the means being adopted to portray or fight for feminism equal rights etc has gone so wrong that the word feminism seems to be trying to creep out of the dictionary these days! Because of all these silly portrayal of feminism the real issues related to the cause are somewhere dying a thousand deaths!

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    Replies
    1. This is the real tragedy. Because of certain immature and silly people, the real issues get sidelines.

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