I recently wrote my two cents on feminism, fairy tales and the need to move beyond to more gender neutral grounds. In the aftermath, I had a highly enlightening conversation with a friend of mine. I won’t go as far as to accept she changed my world view. However, her points were poignant and realistic. Therefore, I decided to pen them down. Below is a narrative of her words, as best recalled by me alongwith my own thoughts on it.
She says being a female is about doing what a man cannot do as much as it is about doing what he can do. Rightly so, I believe, since there is a fundamental difference in our psyche, understanding, physical and mental capabilities as honed by centuries of designated roles right down to our basal natures. So, women interpret and view things differently than men, whatever may be the reason behind this.
She says the whole problem in any age boils down to male agression. Yet, to be equal, women need not become as brutish as men. They can preserve their grace and still bring about major changes in the current world scenario.
She amplifies this point by saying being soft does not equate to being weak. The necessity of life is to be tender also.
She says the problem with the current wave of feminism is that it is making men uncomfortable and nervous. Now, here, one needs to understand that even though the whole agenda may be to make men sit up and notice women as equals, the approach, however, is still wrong. We cannot operate in vacuum. One needs to make one’s play by keeping a solid hold on reality. This reality being that men, when cornered or threatened, like any human, are prone to lash out and be defensive. Consequently, they will be less rational and receptive to the whole idea of feminism.
Regardless of how they “should” react, in a more utopian context, the reality of their reaction cannot be ignored for long. Feminists need to be sensitive to the fact that what matters is how men will react, rather than how they should.
She says men in power have already always been ruining our lives by preaching and commanding how things “should” be. Women, however, have had centuries of experience in dealing with such men and surviving. They know how men will react. They can circumvent it to create a more positive outlook. Women may or may not be smarter than men, that’s a matter of individual opinions, they do, however, have the uncanny, unwavering ability to hone in on the exact reaction which will be solicited in a man in any given scenario.
She says when you violently or suddenly change the status of men in society, i.e., if we are not gentle and gracious, in the long run, it would only produce more misogynistic bosses, more patriarchal mothers, more dominating fathers, even more homophobic population. Because this is too much too fast.
What bears testimony to the above is the fact that men don’t even stand up against their own objectification, their own abuse, their own rape. Feminists need to know what needs to be done, but also done in the right way.
Softly, gently, gracefully, forgivingly, lies the way ahead. There cannot be a war of the sexes. The consequences of that would be way too ugly to even imagine.
Society is all about power equations. To disrupt it, even if the aim is to bring about a balance, one needs to be tactful and strategic.
She ends the discourse by saying to fight, you don’t need to antagonise. Hate the sin, not the sinner. As I said before, in a previous post, we are all responsible for how men and women grow up to be. Not every individual can be blamed.
I think a small dialogue with her has mellowed down my self righteous indignation. I was previously unaware that, being a woman, I harboured an angst against the opposite sex for their sense of entitlement. I am better educated now. I hope to be able to contribute to upliftment of the society as a whole now.
So, thank you, dear friend, for taking the time to talk to me.
Funnily enough, for some reason, I can only think of the following lyrics to aptly describe how to be gracious towards the sensitivities of men while moving ahead on the right path:
“Give ’em the ol’ razzle dazzle
Razzle Dazzle ’em
Give ’em an act with lots of flash in it
And the reaction will be passionate
Give ’em the old hocus pocus
Bead and feather ’em
How can they see with sequins in their eyes?
What if your hinges all are rusting?
What if, in fact, you’re just disgusting?
Razzle dazzle ’em
And they’ll never catch wise!
Give ’em the old Razzle Dazzle
Razzle dazzle ’em
Give ’em a show that’s so splendiferous
Row after row will crow vociferous
Give ’em the old flim flam flummox
Fool and fracture ’em
How can they hear the truth above the roar?
Throw ’em a fake and a finagle
They’ll never know you’re just a bagel,
Razzle dazzle ’em
And they’ll beg you for more!
Give ’em the old double whammy
Daze and dizzy ’em
Back since the days of old Methuselah
Everyone loves the big bambooz-a-ler
Give ’em the old three ring circus
Stun and stagger ’em
When you’re in trouble, go into your dance
Though you are stiffer than a girder
They’ll let you get away with murder
Razzle dazzle ’em
And you’ve got a romance.”