Feminism is unsexy.

Posted: May 19, 2011 in Feminism, Feminist Anger

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It’s unsexy and ‘uncool’ to be a feminist in India. We get laughed at all the time, by men who don’t care; by women who are afraid to show support because they can be alienated by families and society. I know that it can be quite discouraging when there is no one you know, within your family or among friends  whom you can talk to and share your pain and rage with; someone who will take you seriously and understand you. It’s even more painful when we want to be heard but we find no voice. There is no environment for the feminist rage to thrive and attack issues. We feel isolated and thwarted.

I remember feeling so awfully alone when I used to retaliate against misogynistic statements made by smirking men. It felt like I was single-handedly taking up the whole world of misogyny and patriarchy. They double their aggression when they talk to a feminist. It’s hard not to feel overwhelmed and overpowered. Where are the ones who support us? Even men who support our cause and share our ideas remain silent. It’s an outrage to his ‘manhood’ if he is called pussy-whipped or a joru ka gulaam. I can’t blame the women who get brow-beaten. I know many, including I, who gave up fighting and just wanted to live my life, appear cool, feel wanted and accepted, even if that meant giving up a cause that I believed in. I caved in. It was too much to be tagged a feminist, someone who has no sense of humor, a killjoy.

That was a few years ago. Looking back, I don’t regret giving up then. I have emerged only stronger, more convinced about my cause and so much more pissed off.

The only thing I want to say to all of you out there, who feel the way I once did, is this. It is okay to be mad as hell. It is okay to display feminist rage. Like all things in life, it is always tough in the beginning. But you’ll be amazed at the number of people who are waiting to support you. All you have to do is speak out. Reach out. I know how much your morale can be damaged without support. Trust me. There is support. Just reach out to even one person. I am here, for one.

Don’t worry about appearing ‘uncool’. Fuck that! For the huge price that you pay for all that coolness, it’s just not worth it! No matter who she is, which class or caste or religion she belongs to, women get treated like SHIT in India. Even when you are safe in front of your computers right now, there is someone out there who is getting raped this very moment. If you don’t speak out for them and stand with them, who will?

And one last thing. Take PRIDE. Take pride in the fact that you are a feminist. I would rather be called a scary feminist than a cool, sexy ‘chick’. A few people will love you and a lot will hate you. But remember, the ones who hate you are scared of you, of the change that you stand for. We have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. Shame on those assholes who rape and assault women and children.

You will face criticisms. People will attack your stand. They will call you a cunt. They will tell you that this is a rebellion without a cause. They will tell you it is not our ‘Indian culture’. You know that’s bullshit! Look at the abysmal sex ratio, look at the rape statistic, look at the female foeticide and infanticide rates, look at the assault numbers, look at the number of deaths that happened because of eve-teasing(we even coined that phrase), look at the number of women who die in the hands of murderous husbands. We get groped in buses and trains, assaulted in our own homes and offices where we work. From rapes to sexual innuendos in work-places, we are harassed every single day of our lives. That is REAL. So fuck them all who stop you from speaking out.

Be irreverent. Kick patriarchy in its balls. The misogynists are the ones who have something to hide, they are the ones who need to be shamed and they are the ones who live in fear. Not us! We are fucking feminists and we are made of fucking steel.

Comments
  1. Pinky says:

    Let me introduce myself. My name is Pinky. I sometimes write for feministsforchoice.com and I read your comment about my post. I really appreciated your words. Sometimes, it does feel like you are alone in the fight for human rights and equality. Even though I live in California (which is considered to be liberal), I get a negative reaction from others when I say i’m a feminist. They ask me if I hate men or if i’m a lesbian. While neither is true, the word feminist is attached with a sterotype. There are days when I do not bother telling people I am a feminists, because I end up having these stupid attacks and I do not have time everyday to explain to someone what feminism really means. I do not believe the greater public understands what feminism really means. I also believe men are afraid empowerment of women means the decline of men. It does not occur to many that they can coexist together. This is such a difficult problem to find a solution for, because it is everywhere. But it’s always nice to know there are others that support your work. As long as we are having discussion, there is hope for change.

    • I hear you, Pinky. The most popular reaction, in my experience, to the topic of feminism is amusement. A lot of men and even some women find it terribly funny that feminism should be taken seriously at all. Unlike in India where you can encounter active misogyny even in urban circles, over here it’s as if people are completely tolerant or oblivious to sexism. And I can’t bring myself to remain silent when I hear a sexist comment in a conversation. Inevitably I am labeled as a buzzkill. Like you said, it’s a lot easier to be dismissive about feminist issues, because otherwise it would actually entail a fair amount of effort to change this pervasive behavior. One thing I do wish for is the increase in male feminists who are vocal about their support. It would go a long way in clearing up the misconception that feminism is the same as misandry.

  2. The Atheist says:

    I can understand the anger and frustration when your cause is dismissed, but is feminism the best way to go about it? The problem with today’s feminism is that it is hijacked by radicals who are blinded by misandry and double standards, which is basically the other extreme of rabid patriarchy. I was a feminist once (a male one) but after seeing the failures of modern feminism in achieving equality, I chose to distance myself from it. Most feminists don’t even seem to believe in equality anymore, they just want to ‘punish’ men for the oppression of women by their ancestors.

    • I know what you mean. But feminism means differently to different people. The term itself has undergone way too many changes, especially towards the second half of the last century. I do see a lot of misandry masquerading as feminism and at the same time, in India, the men’s rights movement or their preferred term, “anti-misandry” is mostly synonymous with misogyny. Perhaps you’re right to feel a little disillusioned about feminism, but I don’t feel that way at all. Feminism, as an ideology, has a lot to offer in the Indian context. I found the predominantly sexist environment in India to be quite suffocating. I would love to have feminism talked about in schools and colleges, in blogs and news. There needs to be a renewed sense of pride in being a feminist. And my brand of feminism is egalitarianism and fighting patriarchy, which oppresses both women and men.

      • Atheist Indian says:

        Men’s right movements are reactionary and hence, end up with the same ills as post-modern feminism. As for feminism turning mainstream in India, that is going to take some time, since India is a religious and tribal society. An egalitarian society can’t exist when religion and tribal customs decide the social protocols.

      • I can’t agree more. As far as I can think of, almost all (mainstream) religious practices oppress women. And I can’t embrace a culture that follows these “social protocols”.

  3. Bad Indian Girl says:

    Mad Period Woman, your blog is wonderfully written and well-articulated. It is so heartening to see an Indian woman lay her claim to feminism with so much courage and dignity.

    I am always made to feel that I am somehow being un-Indian when I choose to publicly declare that I support feminism and the right of a woman to choose (which is my very water down take on feminism).

    I live in India, and I see first-hand, how restricted women’s lives are due to the combined forces of religious tradition, patriarchy and feudalism.

    As The Atheist rightly pointed out, Indian society is primarily organised along religious and feudal ideologies (caste, class and gender).

    We claim to be a democracy, yet the most fundamental unit in any society is the family, and most Indian families are profoundly undemocratic.

    I often dream about the day when Indian (especially Hindu) women would be free to shape their lives and destinies based on their personal beliefs and values, and not because tradition and custom dictates how they live their lives and raise their children.

    It is oppressive and stifling to be considered to be the sole guardians and upholders of “Indian culture” and have your personal agency taken away in the name of safeguarding tradition.

    Indian women are expected to embody culture and tradition but it is men who actually define and shape culture and tradition.

    • Thank you for the insightful response. Evidently, you’ve had quite a few first-hand experiences with “Indian culture”. What you said about men being the ones who define and shape culture and tradition is so spot on and it is almost exactly what Beauvoir says in The Second Sex .
      All of us are inevitably entrenched in the culture that we grew up in. It’s an indispensable part of us that dictates our world view. Some of us reject the oppressive culture that we grew up in and some don’t. But culture also dictates to a great extent our identity. And that isn’t something we can run away from easily even if the culture/tradition is patriarchal. I would love to keep the “good” parts of our culture alive, but like I said, it is also mixed with oppressive traditions and patriarchal agendas. I hope that someday we can make efforts to consciously adapt our culture to a more egalitarian society, one that is free from inequities and one in which tradition is not used as a tool to control women and our bodies.
      And I truly believe that feminism will get us there.

  4. [...] a feminist Indian blogger talks in this article about how feminism is considered ‘unsexy’ in India and feminists are shunned, laughed [...]

  5. I share the rage and I have it often. I guess it is more fruitful to be a feminist in spirit and action than to call oneself one. Our identities as humans are fluid and people, when they hear feminist, tend to oversee every other identity that the feminist in question has. It is a sorry state of affairs. Will drop by again!

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