Evolution of Feminism

Recently there has been a lot of talk about the feminist movement in India and how we are warming up to the idea. I wanted to outline the evolution of feminism and how with age my opinion has changed about the movement.

For the record, I am not a feminist. That doesn’t mean I don’t believe in equality for women. I don’t have to be an archeologist to deny fossils. For that, I’d have to be religious.

Most of the recent wave of feminist movement are on the lines of “Ladke rulate nahi hain”, “Dear Men, stop beating your wives”, “Dear Men, don’t discriminate against women with dark complexions” etc…

Now I am quite comfortable with the first two agendas, even though the second one seems to be a little antagonistic. To draw a parallel, it is like telling “We should inform Islamists that they shouldn’t terrorize people”.
The message in its basic essence, isn’t inflammatory and no one should indulge in anti human practices. But it somehow leaves a bitter after taste.
The whole Delhi rape incident was a catalyst that probed deeper questions in our society about safety of women. A lot of not so intelligent ideas were thrown about and most of them must be rightly ridiculed. For example:
Home Minister: Well, women should not wear revealing clothes and wander about after sunset. You are an affront to our culture and inviting trouble.
Female Reporter: Sir, this is SEXIST.
Home Minister: (Whispers to his aides) Oh ho she is also looking quite sexist in them jeans.
My effort in this blog space is to bring to attention some of the ideas which seems righteous but are down right daft.
Stop with the metaphors:

If you ask any politician, what a woman means to him. It would be almost impossible for him to describe without metaphors. He would go on an eulogy such as “Our culture is quite respectful of women, they are our rivers, our oceans, lakes and mountains”
Right off the bat, this is down right daft. Drawing a comparison between the contours of a river and a woman is well, just soft core pornography. It was the valmiki’s way of saying, Wiggle wiggle wiggle. I consider myself to be an avid connoisseur of Indian history, so let me elucidate how the River Jamuna got its name
Poor peasant girl: Oh mighty king, our master does not allow us our fair share of access to the bunds. As a result, our farms suffer and we always remain in a debt.
Macho dude King: That is outrageous and I will implement a practical solution. From now on, the river would be called Jamuna and be given a feminine identity. So that, the evil slave owners become answerable to conscience before treating women unfairly.
Poor Peasant Girl: Oh noble king, thank you, that is a spectacular idea. Also while you are at that, could you pass on that joint?
Analogies and metaphors are nice, but if we refuse to humanize a gender it would be difficult to emphasize with their tribulations. Metaphors should be used to describe not justify.
 No Means Not Yet
One of my favorite pastime after getting hammered is to watch old  cheesy indian movies. The common theme in the movies is something like this.
Guy: Hey, that girl looks cute.I just saw her feeding cookies to puppies and buying balloons for slums kids. This proves that she has a heart of gold, because logic. Hence, I think i am in love with her and I am going to win her heart.
Hero approaches the girl
Girl: Fuck off, don’t harass me!
Hero: Challenge Accepted.

Also the common themes of these movies are that,  a girl doesn’t dislike you. It is just that she doesn’t know it yet. No shouldn’t mean not yet. Ideally, you could cut your losses and move on. But again that is not seen something that the culture encourages.
As shocking as it is to believe, in my yore I have been rejected by a couple of girls. But I wizened up and moved on, because I knew there were plenty of fish in the sea who could reject me later.
Even our epics such as Ramayana are filled with ridiculousness.
During Swayamwara
Ram: Sita, babe, I think I Am the most suitable guy for you and I am in love with you. So will you please take my hand in marriage?
Sita: But there are other dudes who are good looking. That arjun fellow looks like an abercombie model for pete’s sake.
P.S: If you study Ayodhya’s history closely, you can clearly see that Abercombie & Fitch outlets used to exist in Ancient India. They were dimly lit and played jagjit singh melodies at 150 db.
Ram: But I have mad archery skills.
Sita: Swoons, I am all yours.
Mother- Sister Analogy
The other day, on a Indian sitcom it is shown that a couple of roadside juveniles, glance mischievously at a girl. An elderly man passes by and reprimands them by asking “Don’t you have any mothers or sisters”?
First of all that is a terrible logic, unless you are Tywin Lanninster. Wait, especially if you are Tywin.
Hypothetically any male can be attracted to any woman, you could have all the sisters from an Alok nath family and still heave if Gisele Bundchen walks by you at Bandra. It is perfectly normal. Let us criminalize harassment not sexuality.
Sexual Depravity
This is going to be a controversial topic because I am going to raise a speculative yet scandalous allegation that teenagers will try to get laid. In India, apart from a few select metropolis, segregation of sexes is often rampant in smaller communities.
As a teen you can’t officially ask a girl out and most relationships have to be discrete affairs. And funnily enough, parents flip the fuck out when teenagers exhibit interest in the opposite sex.
Mom: Enna da, talking to that girl from your class ah?I see you always glued to the phone! You want to be a skirt chaser or what rascal! Focus on your studies
Me: Mom, but she has my homework.
Mom: Why did you give it to her? I know you want to discuss homework only with girls, don’t you have any guy friends? What about that vikram, he always gets first rank.
Me:  Sigh! Whimpers But vikram doesn’t have boobs.
As a teenager all you care about is getting groovy. If you can ignore the sex aspect of it, juvenile relationships teach you a lot . You learn that there is no perfect one and accountability is more reliable than just impressing someone. And you become quite tolerable as a person in your twenties. Case in point

Zach
And in the event that the girls family finds out that their daughter has been dating, the father hilariously slaps the shit out of the mother, spouting the glorious phrase.
“Is this how you raise a daughter”?
Look, I understand that sex education might still be tricky topic, so if you want your kids to embrace celibacy I have two suggestions.
1. Wean them on a diet of quiz shows such as Bournvita quiz contests. So that your kid grows an allergy to silence and vomits them upon the earliest opportunity possible.
Cute cashier girl: Sir, here is the remaining balance 34.50
Me: Hmm, Did you know that Camels have 3 eyelids to protect themselves from sandstorms.

Cute cashier Girl: Next in line please

Me: God Dammit! These dumb girls will always go for losers.
2. Axe deodarant is available for Rs. 140 at your nearest Sakhari Bhandar.
Vigilante Feminism: There was a recent viral video (Rohtak Bravehearts)which went around. In which a couple of girls are caught on camera bashing two guys in the name of justice. Of course the mob joined in, without any questioning. It was later proved that, their claim was completely false.
The same with dealing with people who harass in the streets should not be dealt with vigilante mob justice. It just reeks of jingoism and misplaced patronage for women.

Sadly the new age feminism sounds divisive and accuses men for all problems women face. If you look up the news, you could always find one or two groups being officially offended because they found a sound byte inflammatory. Being offended doesn’t mean you’re right. It means that you cannot deal with your emotions.

False rape accusation, false dowry harrasment case, alimony claims, child support, eve teasing, you name it. It seems that the claim alone is enough to frame a guy, again, because logic. The court views men as guilty unless proven innocent.

Dear feminists, the world isn’t against you nor are men sitting in smoke filled rooms conspiring to stifle your progress. The world, simply put, is indifferent. As Kurt Vonnegut put it brilliantly, “So it goes”.

It is widely acknowledged that women’s emancipation through education is the surest way to eradicate poverty. Both the sexes must be symbiotic in the society to move ahead.

My first interview

I was interviewed by a good friend for her final thesis on religious belief. I was amused by this request and if I recall correctly it was one of the few times where I eagerly looked forward to answering. I have always been a disgruntled writer as I was rejected more times than I can recall to be published in a paper or even a school magazine.

So the whole premise of the blog was a personal affront to years of cumulative rejection. I guess, I have survived the attention cycle and my insecurity has faded over the years through the medium of this blog. I am sharing the excerpts of the interview below. 

1. What would you say your current religious orientation is? (atheist, agnostic, spiritual, etc.?)

A: I consider myself as an Atheist

2. What was your former faith?

A: My former faith was Hinduism

3. How religious/spiritual would you say you were before you left your faith?

A: I observed that I was religious only when it came to my parent’s health, results of my exams and fortunes of the football club I support. I wasn’t very sincere with my religiousness.

4. Were your beliefs in that faith were only due to you being born into it, or were they also, in part, reinforced by a conscious effort and independent thinking/research on your part?

A: I derived my faith from my parents and I found that it made them comfortable and strong when the times were tough. Through a conscious effort of thinking I found that most of my friends were kind and just and being religious just happened to be one of their attributes. I couldn’t find a direct correlation between religiosity and morality.

5. Have you ever questioned or had doubts about your faith and then reconciled them, and kept believing, before you left your religion? Can you expand any more upon this?

A: I have always had doubts about believing something without questioning. I would say Hinduism is more receptive to doubts as it is a polytheistic religion, my folks would often change their gods if they found one of them fared better than the other. I found that belief has a placebo effect on people. I found that religions have a negative impact over the course of years as they have always been at loggerheads with science when it disagreed with them. Most religions practice human rights violation and are often not kind to women. And I disagreed when religions claim absolute monopoly over morality. The final nail in the coffin was when religions became a barrier to having a conversation about climate change, slavery and peace.

6. How old were you when you officially knew that you no longer believed in your (now ex) religion?

A: I was 22 when I believe I lost complete faith in the concept of God or religion.

7. Can you describe the thought process that led you to this conclusion? (Ex: Were there any specific teachings/beliefs that you disagreed with, that drove along this “process of disbelieving?” Any particular sources that helped reassure you that your new beliefs were sound and had merit?)

A: My thought process was scientific and I was more convinced the idea that you should always question things before you believe in them. Theories had to be proven, peer reviewed and tested in challenging conditions before being accepted. I read the biographies of scientists when I was younger such as Marie Curie, Nicholas Tesla, Richard Feynman, Albert Einstein and Issac Newton to name a few.

I found most religions to be quasi pyramid schemes which fed on misinformation, blind faith and hunger to dominate politics. I was repulsed by religions who mistreated or exiled people who questioned their faith. I wanted to see, if I too shared the sentiment of people who feel the same way and I read works of Carl Sagan, Issac Asimov, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, Richard

Dawkins, Ayan Ali Hirsi and George Carlin to name a few.

8. Was the emotional impact of this on your life at that time? (Ex: Was it traumatic or alienating?)

A: I would say the impact was alienating, initially it filled me with hate for the people who bullied and shoved religion down the throats of others. But I soon realized that the faith was at fault and most people deserve to be treated with kindness whether they deserve it or not. My parents still disagree with my choice but choose to be mute spectators observing and hoping I embrace religion someday.

9. Did your other siblings or relatives have similar beliefs? Were you able to talk to them, or anyone else about this?

A: Most of my family is religious in one way or another, but they keep such things personal and bring it only during festivals. I was able to talk to most of them about my digression from belief. They were a little amused and that is about it, I wouldn’t be lying if I wanted their reactions to be more controversial and dramatic.

10. Do your parents know about your loss faith? If no, do you want them to know? If yes, what has kept you from telling them?

A: Yes they do.

11. Is your lack of believing in your former religion impacting you today? If yes, how? If it’s negatively impacting you in anyway, if you could, would you go back to believing and forget about any doubts you have now?

A: The only observable impact so far has been social, even now when I attend any religious festivals with my family or friends, I feel I lack their enthusiasm as I fail to absorb the kind of joy that faith brings to them.

12. Do you have any regrets about it? Do you wish you had realized it sooner?

A: No, I do not have any regrets about it. I am happy with my choice.

13. Do you have any other miscellaneous comments about this, what you’ve experienced, religion, beliefs, etc?

A: I feel there is a huge gap of understanding between atheists and deists. Atheists have been prosecuted for ages in the name of heresy, controversy and apostasy. I don’t feel that I share a sense of community with fellow atheists, as I find that their lack of belief is just another attribute of their personality. I don’t feel uncomfortable or encumbered when I spend time with my religious friends as long as they don’t make me feel guilty for not being a believer.

I feel as long as you choose to exercise your faith within your community or private space it is perfectly fine. But to expect everyone to agree with your faith is unfair and unjustified.

14. So all in all, what advice would you give, from your experience, to someone else who may find themselves in the position you were back when you started along the path of “losing your faith?”

A: I feel every human being has a right to rationale and thought and must be allowed to conduct it without any social or religious duress. I feel children should not be scared into belief or threatened with excommunication. And people who lose faith should not pay the cost of living in social anonymity.

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. I would suggest people to study logic and reason as a pre-requisite before investing emotionally into any belief. Losing one’s faith can have several social repercussions. And I can understand that it might even drive some people into trauma or rage. As we feel we have been lied to and bullied just for exercising reason. I often see so called atheists “trolling” other people’s belief by mocking them. No matter what the choice, I feel we should be kind to one another irrespective of our faith or lack of it. The world is a far worse place than we think it is and we are going to be around only for a few years. Investing that time in love and community is far more rewarding than fighting to save a seat in heaven.