There are many things around me that I would love to change. There is one thing around me I'm absolutely determined to change; if not on a large scale, then at least in my own family, in my neighborhood, in my friends circle.
*Serious expression on face, typing speed increased, determination in the air*
So yeah, if I had the power to change something, I would change that.
Male chauvinism, that is.
I would weed it out if I had the power.
Female foeticide and infanticide, not sending girls to school, child marriage, dowry system, crimes against women and domestic violence are all getting their fair share of attention in the media in the present times. These are serious issues and it is good that we as a nation condemn those who indulge in these acts. But what is funny is, we don't seem to be realising that these are the offshoots of a deeper malaise, a malignant disease called patriarchy. It is patriarchy that establishes male chauvinist norms in the society and in subtle ways colors our attitude, values and expectations with a sexist hue. Only fighting the symptoms without addressing the root cause isn't going to take us far.
The kids in the next generation need to be brought up with the clear understanding that males and females need not be evaluated as superior-inferior. They are simply different and both have equal rights to all the bounty that sorrounds us human beings. Given the power, I would literally wipe off the memory of patriarchy being the norm from our collective unconscious. I would wipe the slate clean so that we could all start afresh on a ringing note of absolute freedom to realise one's fullest potential, irrespective of gender. How cool would that be!
The present doesn't seem encouraging though. From what I observe around me, education doesn't seem to be making much of a difference. That's frightening because education was supposed to be the panacea, the magic wand to counter all social evils. But I have highly educated, cultured, well travelled young men around me whose misogyny would make you want to puke.
What worries me more is that women don't care about all this as much as they should. Well, a lot of them, urban-educated kinds, don't. I mean, I have friends who find nothing wrong with sexist jokes and the lyrics of Honey Singh's albums. Tell them these are anti-women, tell them these have misogynist undertones and they smirk, with a oh-please-not-again expression. To them, a danger signal would probably be an act of physical or sexual abuse or explicit discrimination on the grounds of gender. Yeah, they wold wait till that happens. For now, anything of a lesser magnitude would better be left for the feminists. Of course, they are not feminists. Hell no, that would make them boring. And who wants to be anti-men? Romance comes first, solidarity with fellow women later. Feminism..not for them.
Now that I have touched upon it, I would love to elaborate on this 'Feminist?Not-me' attitude prevalent in today's college going women. It is a phenomenon afflicting the whole world and we women in India are not unaffected. The term feminism has become so unpopular that women take pains to prove in arguments that they have nothing to do with it, though, of course they won't stand male chauvinism. Now how strange is that! If you can't stand male chauvinism, that makes you a feminist. Rather I believe every self respecting woman, who understands that the sun and the skies are as much hers as any male's is a feminist.
Any woman who believes she has the right to study, to walk about without fear, in short to 'live', is a feminist.
She need not really burn a bra in the streets to be labelled a feminist. She need not be un-feminine to be a feminist. She need not be a singleton to be a feminist. And she definitely need not be anti-men to be a feminist.
She can wear make up, she can dress up for an occasion/herself/her man and she can definitely be romantic. She need not shy away from speaking up for her disadvantaged sisters for the fear of being seen as their spokesperson. Seriously, that would be like not appreciating your good fortune and shirking your responsibilities.
We talk so much about giving back to society (pun not intended). If all of us women decided to always stand up for our rights, and if possible, for those of our less fortunate sisters worldwide, that would be a great way of doing our bit for society. Confused? Why, fighting a disease does count as giving back. What better contribution to society could there be than attempting to make it healthier?
And it isn't very difficult. Heya all women reading this, we could all start where we have the most influence: family. If there's a younger brother at home, you know what to do. If the boyfriend shows MCP tendencies, you know what to do. If and when you become a mother, be it to a boy or a girl, you know what to do. All men reading this, you know, you could be feminists too and that would certainly not hurt your chances in your love life. Of course you agree with me.