PART OF THE FEMALE PITY PARTY?
One fine evening as I struggled to hail any means of transport to get back home, suddenly an auto screeched to stop in front of me. After one triumphant air fist bump, I directed my attention to the driver. The icing on my victory cake was a lady driver. Thanking the universe for this turn of events, I almost flew into the auto, a little too enthusiastic for the ride ahead. The word feminism was sprawled over my eyes. The numerous hours of feminist texts I had spent reading in my first year of college came flooding back. All the speeches I had heard from world leaders advocating Equality rang through my ears. I was proud of having the “privilege” of being driven by a person who stood proof for Equality prevailing over sexism. What I did not anticipate was a bitter reality check. The trip that night took along one of the branches of a plant that is patriarchy.
To continue with my story, once I seated myself down, the woman asked me for a fare much higher than the norm. I agreed thinking it was worth every extra penny. Halfway through the route, we found ourselves stuck in the midst of noisy stuffy traffic in our tiny yellow auto. My driver then intimated me that the fare would be doubled, because she concluded somehow that it was my fault for her late return back home. A little while later she had a sudden outburst, asking why I had led her to my desired destination at such an odd hour. And hence started a slew of horrible grumblings and cutting words. I received a detailed account of how bad her back hurt, making it sound a lot like I had broken it. Somewhere in the middle, she spat nasty sounding words in a language I could not comprehend. My mouth remained mum, blaming it on her temperament and misfortune.
But the very last sentence that the woman uttered, dismembered all my previous notions of her advocacy for feminism. She loudly proclaimed to me, “I am a woman, working a man’s job. I cannot be expected to work such harsh hours. I must be given leniency.”
This instantly made me realize how unfounded my excitement had been. I was ashamed of labeling my auto ride with her as a “privilege” earlier. It was not anything special. It was never meant to be. My branding it as a special opportune moment itself had defeated what feminism stands for- Equality. She was a person working her job. Yes, it was groundbreaking for her to forage into a profession that has for long been dominated by men. But by asking for her “privilege”, she only built a brick wall under the gender glass ceiling she had shattered.
This woman’s want for special treatment on the basis of categorizing herself as lesser or less competent is one of the root causes of mass misconstruction of the very idea of feminism in most people’s minds. In this system of doing, patriarchy does not exactly subjugate women but cripples them, branding them and making them believe to be incapacitated to a certain degree solely based on their gender. Girls are not set free to conquer the world the same way as their counterparts. Instead, they are protected, fed with the need to be looked after. There is want of an exaggerated definition of privilege, where they are helped/ assisted and not taught. To be treated equal, one first has to treat thyself equal. Feminism cannot be conditional. Pity parties do not figure into any progress. Please note that by saying girls, I do not mean to include all or exclude any category of gender.
Feminism is often referred to as a God-awful term that has been overtly advocated. There are people who deny any form of association with it. This stems out of either misconception, utter laziness or even the want to appear cool. The lazy ones have a point to make though. “If you believe you are equal, there is no need to refer to yourself as a feminist.” A slight correction here. If your treatment of a fellow human is not based on any gender stereotype that they have to fit into, it automatically makes you a feminist. There is no movement currently that you have to sign up for. It is a state of mind that when reached, gives the receiver of your thoughts turned into action, the freedom to be a person and not a gender.
The objective of feminism is not to have women treated as women but for them to be Equals. It is for the society to comprise of independent strong and liberated individuals, irrespective of their body’s Biology.
Let me leave you with the very definition of feminism that the Webster dictionary outlines:-
The theory of political, economic and social Equality of sexes.
The advocacy of women’s rights in order to attain Equality of sexes.
P.S.: Do take note of how Equality has been highlighted and not any term that has any “gender associations”.