April 14, 2015

Sometimes feminists have reasons to celebrate

Yesterday was Ambedkar Jayanti. It was a special day for many oppressed sections in India. It was a special day for me. As a woman and as a feminist, there is something to celebrate about Ambedkar Jayanti. A great man was born, who advocated the equality of all, and we women owe a lot to him:

1. The constitution of India, written by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, declares everyone, including women, as equal citizens with equal rights :) No clauses, terms or conditions specified!!

2. Indian women had the right to vote and the right to contest in elections right from the inception of the Indian Republic, a milestone which few other countries can claim (link). Particularly glad that no separate electorates were formed.

3. Indian women had the legal right to work and earn through paid jobs, enabling their financial empowerment.

4. Indian women (and men) were given the legal right to end unhappy marriages through divorce, a proposal which was scandalous at the time when the Hindu Marriage Act* was written.

Thank God for small mercies!!

*The Hindu marriage act was extremely progressive for Ambedkar's time: one of the most stellar aspects being a ban on legal polygamy. Dr Ambedkar particularly preferred a Uniform civil code, which was not enacted at the time due to Nehru's conflicting view point. It is sad that to this day, we have yet not been able to realize this golden dream. (link)

April 03, 2015

So why is My Choice upsetting to so many 'intellectuals'?

This is how Privileged Misogynists talk – and this is from Hindu:

My responses in red.

// “Sex outside marriage, my choice”. I don’t believe, however, that the intent here is to refer to an extra-marital affair, as has been widely misperceived — “sex outside marriage” could also be a reference to consensual sex had by, say, divorced women. The uproar is a result of the inefficacy of the words and the delicate nature of the topic. //

It’s funny how scandalized so many misogynists are at the very thought of a woman having an extra-marital affair. I believe the video was exactly referring to extra-marital affair. I believe the point of that sentence was to tell the society that a woman choosing to have sex outside marriage (a personal choice) cannot be freely abused/assaulted by anyone, including her husband. I believe that perceived deviation from one’s personal code of ethics should not be used to justify violence/abuse against someone else. I believe that women (and men, and the third gender) have the right to not follow some unspecified moral standards of how one must act within a marriage imposed on them by the society, and such deviations do not justify violence against them. If any partner in a marriage is upset, there is a legal system in place to file for divorce and claim compensation for mental agony.

And before you ask, no, feminists are not saying that adultery is good. They’re saying that consensual sex is a personal choice, and that it is not for the society to pass punishments which include abuse or violence for personal choices. Period.

// When the condescending undertone is, “I don’t care what you think”, the point does not get across. Sexist men are left with the wrong notion that independent women are careless, insensitive and oblivious to consequences. The good ones, meanwhile, are left reeling from what seems like an undeserved attack. And hence, the responses it has met with which include a parodic male version of My Choice that has already got half-a-million views so far. //

I only wish one tenth of the concern for sexist men was directed towards women who get raped, killed and stoned to death for ‘adultery’. I only wish one millionth of this concern was directed at telling the society that what women do with their lives/bodies is nobody else’s business. In fact, I think this author’s biggest disappointment seems to be with the fact that the video does not try to ‘appease’ men, and does not try to make it look like terms and conditions (read men’s permission) apply when women exercise personal choices. 

//When the condescending undertone is, “I don’t care what you think”, the point does not get across//

 Actually, ‘I don’t care what you think’ that is the whole point!! Women (like other humans) should not have to face systematic oppression and violence for exercising simple personal choices.

// The video says it’s wrong to be upset when a woman returns at 4 a.m.. The concern here, however, is more than just the freedom of a woman to come home late; it is about the dangers fraught in a society that isn’t safe for women yet, especially during nights. Consequences, after all, hurt more than choices do. The video, in its emphasis on the latter, skips this conveniently. //

This is actually threatening women with assault if they dare to return at 4 a.m. It’s telling them – look, if you exercise your choice to return late, you deserve to be assaulted and we will blame you, and we will not blame the criminal(s) for any assaults against you. Rapists and assaulters must be listening gratefully – when the whole society is eager to justify assaults as ‘consequences’ for exercising personal choices, why should anyone hesitate to attack?

Edited to add:

Please go through this amazing article on this by Indian Home Maker: link

// Deepika would have found more support had she  talked about:

 A virtuous woman’s right to marry (against his wishes) a man she has had consensual sex with. 
Or a woman’s right to save her marriage to an unwilling partner. 
Violence, castration and humiliation for a man accused of having consensual sex with an unmarried adult woman from another caste/community. (Because this can’t be made right with marriage). 
A woman’s right to marry her rapist.
A woman’s right to supplement her family’s income by working in night shifts. // - link
Because then, perhaps more people would have claimed to 'understand' and 'approve' her choice. People with distorted perceptions of women's honor and what women are supposed to must do to protect their chastity. People who don't differentiate between personal choices and forced privileges. But that's the beauty of My Choice - It is only and only about personal choices, reinforcing that no approvals matter when exercising personal choices.
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