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INDRANI BANERJEE

SONGSOPTOK THE WRITERS BLOG | 3/10/2015 |




TANGLING WITH THE “F” WORD
Indrani Banerjee
“We have chosen each other and the edge of each other’s battles. The war is the same. If we lose, someday women’s blood will congeal upon a dead planet. If we win, there is no telling.”
- Audrey Lorde
Audrey Lord was a black American poet who rose to stardom with her poems and other literary works .The above mentioned lines are important because it represents not one but all the women and a strange bond that bind us altogether .For women, the need and desire to nurture each other is not pathological but redemptive, and it is within that knowledge that our real power of “I” is   rediscovered. It is this real connection which is so feared by a patriarchal world. Only within a patriarchal structure is maternity the only social power open to women. Interdependency between women is the way to a freedom which allows the “I “to be, not in order to be used, but in order to be creative. This is a difference between the passive be and the active being.
“Tangling with the F word “is my take on the understandings, acceptance, confidence and confusion that is persistent with the term “FEMINISM”. Whether or not one considers herself as a feminist as a matter of personal identity we do come across feminist perspectives and theories because we do seek to understand and explain gender.
FEMINISM is a term with a great deal of baggage comprised of different thoughts and conceptions .For some it is empowering and powerful .For others it conjures up negative images of “ugly” women in overalls and flannel shirts , women who do not wear make ups. Many women who do not want to be associated with the label “feminist”. They may agree that women deserve higher pay, sexual freedom or greater opportunity but they are careful to start the comments with a disclaimer: “I am not a feminist, but …..”

In the past two decades , many of us  has been twisted in between “FEMINISM HAS GONE TOO FAR” or “FEMINISM IS DEAD” piece. While some lamented the difficulties being non educated still suppressed by the male dominated society facing physical mental and sexual abuse daily while others play blame game of too much equality or a victim of equated feminism .

Feminism is the advocacy of women's rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.Here is the quick look on what is feminism and what feminism do not stand for
WHAT FEMINISM IS:

§  Your old clothes saved this man's life.
§  Promoted by Salvation Army
§  Equity for ALL: genders, sexes, sexual identities, ages, races, etc.
§  Knowing the difference between equity and equality.
§  Knowing the difference between SEX differences and GENDER differences
§  Acknowledging that women are oppressed.
§  Understanding that in some venues, women experience privilege.
§  Acknowledging that men are oppressed.
§  Understanding that in some venues, and very likely more venues than women, men experience privilege.
§  Encouraging men to treat women with respect, regardless of what they are wearing.
§  Encouraging women to treat men with respect, regardless of what they are wearing.
§  Discouraging men to hit women, or men to hit men.
§  Discouraging women to hit men, or women to hit women.
§  Feminism is acknowledging that ANYONE who is not the majority race/gender/sexual orientation/etc experiences oppression.
§  Men holding open doors for women, if they feel like it.
§  Men holding open doors for men, if they feel like it.
§  Women holding open doors for men, if they feel like it.
§  Women holding open doors for women, if they feel like it. (It’s just a nice thing to do).
WHAT FEMINISM IS NOT?
§  Saying that we are all the SAME.
§  Ignoring the difference between SEX and GENDER.
§  Belittling the experiences that all people (regardless of race, sex, gender, ethnicity, age, etc.) face
§  Blaming ALL MEN when we are upset with the ACTIONS of CERTAIN MEN, and how prevalent these actions are.
§  Telling men not to be nice to women.
§  Telling men not to hold doors open for women, or not to look them in the eyes and say “Hello.”
§  Letting women get away with hitting men.
§  Telling women that it is wrong to want to be a housewife or mother.
§  Ignoring struggles faced by men.
§  Yelling at men who (non-pervertedly) give us a compliment.
§  Identifying any and all compliments as cat-calling or harassment (although sometimes they are).
§  Ignoring female privilege.
§  Ignoring male oppression.
 Femininity is devalued across the spectrum, seen as more of a weakness than an asset, and considered fundamentally irrational. This ethos is deeply engrained, as being feminine is thought of as "less than," or an insult. This is a corrosive consequence of systemic sexism. Yet we are becoming hypersensitive to a point of PC blandness. Parents are petrified of anything that will contribute to potential gender stereotypes and are in a constant state of panic to impose on their children. Yet just because a little girl wears pink and likes princesses doesn't mean she will grow up to dot her i's with hearts, or become a stripper in Tampa. I don't think the answer is to blend the sexes completely to breed omni-gender babies with Barbie crotches -- although that would be advantageous when it comes to changing diapers.
We can't obliterate gender completely, yet to deprogram the socialization of thousands of years is proving to be an almost endless challenge. How do we inspire people to "think different" and why didn't Apple address this issue with the iPhone 6? We can't force people to change their opinions by saying "Hey sexist men -- respect and honor women now or I will shove my lady-gun up your pee hole." Or "Hey sweetie who doesn't think you need feminism -- your opinion about not needing feminism is only valid because of feminize so..." We don't live in a post racial or post sexist world because our minds are still holding on to the sentiments that have shaped our history -- even when officially the structure has evolved.
Many men and women are still attached to past paradigms when it comes to gender roles. I don't think they consider that their definitions of masculinity and femininity are ultimately constructs that have been created through centuries of conditioning. I am pretty sure they assume this is the way things are because this is the way they are supposed to be. Convincing someone to reevaluate their understanding of the world is complex. Once someone has a conviction, it takes a lot to open minds and hearts.
Even though feminism is not trying to take over the world to create a matriarchy where men are subordinate to women as we spend the days making them carry heavy bags -- a lot of people are scared of change. They don't know what it will mean for them personally, and fear the effects will be negative. These aren't evil people, but they are unconsciously afraid that within this this ever-changing landscape they will lose their identity.
Feminism can paint the picture of what the world will look like within this new frame. The conversation shouldn't just be about what we are against, but what we are for. A feminist future is not an apocalyptic crisis where the family unit is destroyed as women pillage the earth for the remaining cotton for their ever-flowing menstruation. It is one where both genders have the freedom to pursue their true essence in an authentic way. The pressure for men to be one way and women to be another is oppressive. Rather than living our lives as we are supposed to, we can start conducting them as we choose to. Feminism is not a plot against penises, but rather an opportunity for a cultural episiotomy to sew up the tear between the genders so we can collectively evolve.
[INDRANI BANERJEE]



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