Who is a feminist? I start with a direct question. An answer to this query, from the perspective of a biased society, is that she is an unbridled horse, who tramples under her reckless feet all the norms and customs of a society. She is an ogress, a dangerous creature, detrimental to both the society and family’s health. A home-breaker she is, who is to be derided at every step and should not be allowed to grow with her voice that should be stifled in every possible way.
Now the second question is – what are the customs or conventions of a society that a feminist flouts? These customs, from my viewpoint are the norms defining the roles of men and women in a patriarchy. These customs always try to envision women in secondary roles, subordinate to men, both in intelligence and in physical strength. These customs always idealize the role of a woman who silently gulps down all the idiosyncrasies of men and never dares to raise any question against her opposite sex. She throttles her intellect and prefers to hold a secondary status to a man and never endeavours to supersede him in any respect and holds him in a god- like status. Such lopsided gender roles defined for men and women celebrate patriarchy and deem no independent existence for women. Her role is seen as complementing the man’s. This, in turn, keeps the conventional social system on the go.
The third question to be asked is – what does a feminist actually want? The answer to this question from an impartial point of view, without any gender bias and from a humane perspective, is that all she wants is to be treated like a human being with the inherent rights to speak, to make difference between good and bad and to rationally view the things. In this animal kingdom, human beings are considered to be the blessed ones endowed with the capacity to speak and graced with the faculty of intellect. If a woman is deprived of those blessings she will then dwindle into a dumb creature and will cease to be a member of homo sapiens’ community.
Now the next question, and pertinent to the discussion, is – is a feminist really dangerous? The question germinates a counter question that is – how can a feminist, who wants to be a human being, be dangerous? A feminist as a human being wants to cultivate her intellect and utilize her voice. With her ability to speak and her reasoning capacity, she can never be injurious to the society or family. Rather with the aid of her intelligence and her viewpoints – that she shares without imposing because true feminism opposes imposition or domination – she may be able to spot the ills of the society. As a human being, with the light of her sense of righteousness, she may be able to dispel the darkness of evil from the society and thus, lend her hand in building a healthy family or a society.
Hence, it is needful to change our conventional perspective of a feminist as a lethal figure and consider her human status and of all female figures. It is this change in our viewpoint or giving up our sexist attitude that will make the world more beautiful for both men and women. The planet will then become a better habitat with a unified human race, rather than being a space with males and females graded into superior and inferior categories. Such a world will have its pristine beauty with no malice on any one’s part to dominate or suppress the other, where male misogyny poses no threat to women and a man will be elated at the success of his female counterpart . The Almighty might have dreamt of such a world when He created this earth for men and women to live in good spirit and amity.
———— Dr. Fathema Begum
[The article was previously published in Sunday Reading, The Assam Tribune, December 2, 2018 and is presented here with some modifications.]