In what is possibly the most bizarre form of protest, some 150 men performed the last rites of their marital relationships and feminism in what is said to be a protest against feminism. Varanasi’s Manikarnika Ghat saw men gather for an event organised by Save Indian Family, an NGO, and Daaman Welfare Society.
These men, who gathered from all around the country claimed that feminism destroyed their families and they were there to protest against it and the ‘bias and atrocities’ against men caused by feminism.
This may seem asinine and even hilarious, but the wave against feminism among Indian men and even some woman has been going strong for a while now and this incident might be the call we need to remember how important it is to address it and its patriarchal roots.
Hatred towards the feminist cause has been rampant in recent times, not just among the old who want to preserve their patriarchal culture as it is, but even among the young who see feminism’s objectives of equality and affording women public space as ridiculous or unnecessary. This is a result of extensive social conditioning everyone is subjected to from a very young age in patriarchal societies that are a breeding-ground of misogynistic attitudes.
these laws are structured this way is not because of feminism or feminists but soley because of patriarchy.
While some laws like India’s rape and domestic violence laws, need to be made gender neutral and adultery laws should be banished, most people who desire this do not see that the reason these laws are structured this way is not because of feminism or feminists – for most feminists aren’t happy with the state of these laws either. In fact, these laws exist this way because of patriarchy.
Patriarchy views women as weak and as mere accessories in public life to further men’s existence in public realms. It encourages men to incorporate toxic masculine attitudes, like aggression, violence, domineering behaviour, and other patriarchal and ghastly attitudes to seem like ‘real men‘ and prove their ‘manhood’ and ‘masculinity’. Because of this, those who believe that men are intrinsically this way also believe that only men are capable of violence or that men cannot be sexually abused or harassed.
This doesn’t stem from some collective hatred for men or the collective desire to do right by women. It, in fact, stems from the dated, patriarchal ideas that strong, aggressive, dominating men – attributes that are rewarded in patriarchal societies – are the only ones capable of violence and ‘weak’ and ‘docile’ women can only be victims.
Most law-makers subscribe to these patriarchal ideas then create laws that align with these toxic beliefs about gender. Laws that aren’t gender-neutral even though they should be are a direct result of our regressive, patriarchal ideas about gender, masculinity, and what a ‘real man’ should be like.
Men’s Rights Activists often have an ‘us vs them‘ narrative. They wrongly attribute their issues to feminism and the changes it is causing in India’s social landscape. If they are concerned about the legitimate issues concerning gender that can sometimes be disadvantages to men as well, their goal wouldn’t be any different from feminism’s goal, for if feminism’s goal of equality is attained, the disadvantages that patriarchy causes men will be done away with along with the oppression of women.
This clearly isn’t the case, in the guise of fighting for the rights of men, men’s rights activists only try to hinder the progress of feminism and attempt to preserve patriarchal ideals in society to keep present power structures the way they are – beneficial to men and oppressive to women. Most MRAs are against the criminalisation of marital rape and feminists and feminism have always been blamed for attempting to get marital rape to be a criminal offence. Most people in support of the current decriminalisation state that anyone who pushes for criminalisation is attempting to change the traditional marriage setup.
Traditions shouldn’t be upheld if they are barbarous. Our patriarchal marriage setup treats marriage as a licence for permanent consent, which is a toxic, regressive idea that shouldn’t be allowed to foster. Consent is active, enthusiastic, and can be withdrawn at any time despite the nature of the relationship between two people. If we collectively think that criminalisation of marital rape negatively affects the tradition and sanctity associated with marriage, maybe it is time we reconsider our take on marriage and its patriarchal and less-than egalitarian roots.
Our patriarchal marriage setup treats marriage as a licence for permanent consent, which is a toxic, regressive idea that shouldn’t be allowed to foster.
In a deeply patriarchal society where all power belongs to men and women only exist on the sidelines, feminism is a threat to the historical and long existing power structures established to benefit men. This is the reason most societies opposed feminism when it started taking hold, be it in the name of religion, tradition, biology, or even as a way to protect ‘weak’ women from the harsh realities of the real world.
In India though, feminism is just starting to take a hold and bring changes in a large and noticeable fashion. And with this comes the wrath of patriarchal fractions that know if power structures are altered to give women power, they will no longer enjoy a dominant position in society, that was once created by them to cater to them.
The fact that these men feel the need to protest feminism, a cause that attempts to provide women equality and to allow them the same space men are afforded in public life, tells us all we need to know about the deep patriarchal ideas that they foster, which we continue to collectively promote protect, and celebrate. Feminism threatens existing power structures that were created by men, for men and in a deeply misogynistic society that thinks women should only exist on the sidelines, this is a threat to its culture and its subsequent traditions that have been created entirely based on patriarchy and misogyny.
Featured Image Source: TNBC Live