If you follow social media, you probably have seen that there are numerous women from savarna groups not acknowledging their privileges and throwing all women under the bus (metaphorically) when it comes to talking about gender equality. It includes bashing women for not having a work-life balance, using choice as an excuse without understanding that every woman doesn’t have similar choices to make.
These women come from upper-class backgrounds and have certain privileges which coupled with their internalised misogyny harms all women. However, this article is not a personal attack; rather, it is an observation and viewpoint to provide criticism and to explain why a certain group of women do so.
Internalized Misogyny With Privilege
Often, women from well-off backgrounds are the first ones to ignore the cause of gender equality. But, what makes them do so? Their privilege. They often have financial and social capital, and a bunch of connections to fall back on if they suffer. However, they do forget that patriarchy affects them too.
One may have seen many memes and posts doing rounds teaching us, “This is real feminism”, “Had it been a girl everyone would have protested but he was a boy so nobody cares”, while discussing women achieving things or men getting abused. The problematic nature of these posts often remains undiscussed. These posts create a binary between what feminism is and what it is supposed to be. Often, these posts are misogynistic as they compare different women or focus on gender roles.
One instance of it is Indira Nooyi’s posts about family and the celebration of doing a double shift by working outside in the public domain and also managing things at the home front. These posts focus on upper-class women who are dependent on domestic workers who are mainly from marginalised classes and castes. This invisibilises the labor of those workers and also puts pressure on all women to create a work-life balance that is impossible to attain without sharing household chores.
Other posts that focus on abuse against men often refuse to acknowledge the role of patriarchy and gender roles. They only bash feminism. It creates misconceptions and trivialises the suffering of male victims of abuse. If a man’s sexual harassment is reported, the laugh reactions are usually done by men, the comments often mock the survivor which explains the desensitisation among the masses.
Instead of challenging the patriarchy which harms everyone, the agendas of many people remain to mindlessly fight the feminist movement as they have their privileges intact and unchallenged. Often masculinist ideals are also portrayed as “real feminism” while critiquing those women who choose fields aren’t army or military.
Things in Common: White Women and Savarna Women
The feminist movement in the West and the feminist movement in India has witnessed similar problems, i.e they are appropriated by powerful women at the expense of all women. In the West, white women have appropriated the feminist movement ignoring the plight of black women, hispanic women, queer women and other women of colour. They often ignore the class and race aspect in the US.
Similarly, in the Indian context, savarna women have appropriated the feminist movement leading to ignorance when it comes to understanding the intersections of caste, class and sexual orientation. However, right wing women in both of these spheres are often white and savarna and they have certain traits which create further marginalisation of the women from oppressed sections.
There are many common factors in the socio-political behavior of white women and savarna Women. These include:
- They are politically right-wing – One can find them easily on right-wing groups and their ideologies align with the right-wing agendas of their respective countries. These women are also often lobbyists for right-wing using fear-mongering as a tactic among women to spread their ideological beliefs. They also support slut-shaming, character assassination of women from opposite ideologies because they have dehumanised/objectified them.
- Religion- They both are ignorant of the extreme sides of their religion, focusing only on political-religious agendas, and having a fixed set of beliefs. They often bash people of other faiths to ensure that they remain in the hierarchy above the others. They also refuse to criticise their religions on misogynistic attitudes and remain mum, when cases of harassment in religious institutions come up.
- Misogynist and Homophobic- They have internalised misogyny and hatred for the LGBTQIA+ community. They often harass and bully the queer community online and offline. They are often found following patriarchal practices and they impose these on women around them calling it “culture”.
- Ignores their Race/Caste Privilege- They know that they have certain privileges but they refuse to acknowledge them. Many white women are often found calling the cops on people of other races in the US for just existing in the same space as theirs. Police brutality is a huge issue in the US as well as India and many have been killed due to their social identities.
In the Indian context, savarna women often ignore the suffering of Dalit-bahujan-Adivasi, Muslim women, trans women and people from other gender minority groups. The most recent examples include rallying in support of rapists or the likes of Deepika Narayan Bhardwaj who tried to falsify the Hathras rape case or jump on every case to call it fake.
Another structural issue is the association of patriarchy and masculine terms to gender equality. For instance, ignoring exploitation of labour class women, promotion of masculinist ideals in army and treating it as a role model of gender equality. Anti-feminist values are treated as a progressive move even though it leads to further marginalisation. Often, these women come from privileged and powerful households who refuse to understand different intersections.
Featured Image Source: MEME