A heterosexual man and a feminist walk into a bar. The bartender, unable to decide whether he should address the man first -- for that would surely be a sign of male priviledge -- or the feminist -- for that would, of course, be indicative of society’s tendency to condescend its female participants -- chokes to death on his own patriarchal confusion.
Subsequently, he is crucified for being unable to decide which the correct choice was, and his legacy as a bartender, and as a male, is destroyed. His bar closes down from the negative publicity and the consequences of an online petition that had sought to boycott him, and his wife, a feminist grihini, after a few days of mourning, finds a new man. They live happily ever after. Justice prevails.
Feminism, hyperbolic fables aside, has a history of trying to define itself despite being the most fluid of movements. Trying to define feminism is akin to catching a mosquito between your palms. Every time you think you’ve got one down, a few more show up, or the one that you thought you had nestling squished between the ridges of your hands, has somehow slipped through your fingers and is now somewhere else.
If the very way society functions is reflective of patriarchy, it seems fair to utilise the word “feminist” to speak of the general malaise that has plagued the movement, recently, and if one scrutinises, even from before.
Its definition has always been, at a perfunctory glance, one of a movement that seeks to establish equal rights for the women. But then, one would presume, that it was okay to deem it a female-specific movement, one that catered to the rights of women, so that they would be elevated to the same “level” as men.
Emblematic of this is the celebration of artifices such as Women’s Day and Menstruation Day, female only groups and meetings, affirmative action to get more women into the workplace and in schools, and hashtags galore which plague social media. After all, it’s in the name, isn’t it?
But, when domestic violence against men is discussed, or how violence in general is belted out against men, then the goal-posts are shifted to include the entire plethora of the gender spectrum. The mistreatment of men, too, is a sign of patriarchy, it is claimed. Hiding under the “fem” in feminism is cradled all of humanity, catering to the idea of a just and equal society.
The feminists want to have their cake and eat it too.
In reality, there is no one feministic agenda. What should be done has been a matter of contention between and within the sexes ever since this became an issue.
Human rights have been an issue since the dawn of time. And, as a consequence, roles have been assigned based on superficial characteristics. And, ever since the first feminists, who mobbed the streets for their right to vote, the movement has suffered from the presumption that only women have been the ones whose rights had been taken away.
It presumes that staying in the house as a home-maker is an inferior state of being than going out and working to provide for your family. Both in the scenario have their respective freedoms extinguished in one form or another, and all of society is a loser.
That is, however, still acceptable. The right to vote as a woman, and the right to not be the bread-earner as a man, are both crucial to a society that endows all its participants with equal opportunity. But feminism, sometime, somewhere, somehow, along the way, transformed into the form we see now: To be more about equality as opposed to equal rights, and to treat women as if they need to be “empowered,” for they are too weak to do so themselves, while at the same time, contradictorily, praising them for their strength.
In truth, no one is born equal. Each of us has a different environment we grow up in, different physiological make-ups, and vastly different skill-sets and abilities. To skew society to give each of us equal opportunity is justifiable; to skew it to give advantages to someone because they were born different, however, is not. In fact, it defeats the entire purpose.
As a result, due to mainstream media imbibing feminism into its rhetoric, the free exchange of ideas and dialogue has suffered. One cannot, freely and without being deemed a misogynistic sexist, discuss the differences that truly exist between men, women, and others.
It is not a sign of “patriarchy,” for example, to say that, generally, men are physically stronger than women. Or cite the fact that most video game users are male as a reasoning for most video game characters being male as well. Or one does not become a rape apologist just by stating that a claim of rape isn’t enough to justify indictment.
This blatant hypocrisy is evident in the discussions and dialogues regarding the sexualisation of women. Either women are being objectified when they are scantily dressed, or not dressed at all, with it being a sign of their mental faculties being brainwashed by the patriarchal juices sprinkled into the societal air, or they are not being given their freedom if they are dressed demurely, their sexuality suppressed under the thumb of the same brand of patriarchy that seeks to objectify her under-the-clothes assets.
Or what about when a woman wants to be a housewife, to be a homemaker, to cook for her husband and care for her children, and she doesn’t want to work? It is not a sign of her giving in to the systematic oppression of women, but this is an individual who is exercising her very right to be the person she wants to be, to do whatever the hell she wants.
You can’t have it both ways. Women aren’t children; they don’t need to be catered to at every rung of the social ladder. And feminists don’t need to be telling them what they should and shouldn’t want. That is not to say that the mistreatment of women isn’t a very real issue. But in a meritocracy, in a society that wants to be objective in the way it conducts its citizens, every individual must be assessed separately, based on his or her individual characteristics.
Otherwise, we’re just creating a generation of women who are taught to complain at every obstacle and enhancing a divide between the sexes, when we should be breaking down the wall that has existed between the sexes for years. And leaps have been made with regards to rights; what we need to do differently now is to not categorise men and women based on the roles they have been asked to play in the past while, at the same time, allowing them the freedom to explore their individual desires to pursue the life they want.
Progress has been made, there’s no denying, in this regard. But who’s going to tell my air-conditioning? It’s as cold and as sexist as ever.