I am an absolutist when it comes to feminism. You are either a feminist or you are not. There are different strands of it like liberal or radical feminism or different feminist identities like South Asian feminists. There is no feminist line of continuum.
The patriarchy, however, has constructed a line of argument against the absence of a way of measuring feminists. I came up against this recently when a male friend of more than 30 years offered to ‘save’ me from feminism.
He sent me a video clip featuring a meeting taking place with one woman and three men in attendance. One of the men starts crying. The woman hugs him to console him. He buries his face in her chest and hugs her around her bottom while groping it. He then gives the other men a thumbs-up. They get the message and start crying too. It was a video about manipulation, not a comedy.
Feminist values don’t change shades of colour from light to dark to satisfy patriarchy.
This friend has been goading me for over a year by sending me inappropriate videos despite knowing that I am a feminist. I responded by saying that this was the last time I was going to tell him that I do not enjoy comedy masquerading as misogyny.
When a man is challenged in this way he, in stereotypical fashion, will attempt to disarm his opponent by using the humour argument. This man accused me of not having a sense of humour and, moreover, told me that all his other female friends including his mother would have laughed at the clip.
He accused me of taking feminism to an “extreme where it smothers your sense of humour and makes you puritanical” and, moreover, “feminism at its extreme is like a cult and I would be saddened to see you lost to it”.
Deconstructing these accusations involves recognising the fallacies contained therein. Feminism is a way of living with core values. These values don’t change shades of colour from light to dark to satisfy patriarchy.
It is like Indian women being told that they can study for a Masters degree but not a PhD because any future husband would be put off by a very accomplished woman. Gradations of feminism are what patriarchy uses to keep us silent – “There, there, you are a good girl and don’t need to go that far.”
men are threatened by groupings that do not accommodate their whims.
Secondly, ‘puritanical’ means that you are an asexual being. It is a threat to make you feel as if you are unattractive to men who like sexual women. Possessing a sex-positive attitude is one part of feminism, but the terms are dictated by women. Puritanism is a word used to denigrate our version of our claimed sexuality.
Lastly, men are threatened by groupings that do not accommodate their whims and therefore, the word ‘cult’ is used to make feminists out to be some sort of a problematic group. It ‘others’ feminists from the ‘safe’ women who do not challenge misogyny.
Feminists are political and cultural fighters. We don’t need saving and we certainly don’t need to be rescued from our beliefs by chauvinistic men.
Featured Image Credit: Thought Catalog