May 27, 2015

So why do I write against gender discrimination: An interaction with a reader

I've been asked this question by a reader, and there was more in it to discuss, but as requested, I am not putting up the exact content. I'm putting up my response here for a wider audience, with briefly what the reader had to say in italics and my response in red:

// There are other issues to blog about than gender discrimination. Why do you have to blog about this all the time? //

Here's why I blog about against gender discrimination:

1. I blog about women's issues because I feel strongly against gender discrimination, and I do feel strongly against all other forms of oppressive discrimination, against 'lower' castes, against college juniors, against gay people, against lesbians, against colored people, against the physically disabled and so on.

2. Because these issues affect half the population, across world, across all sections of the society.

3. Because I can relate to these issues at a personal level. These issues can, and they do, happen to me, or to anyone I know.

4. Simply because I want to blog about them!!

5. Because blogging about them is more useful than not blogging about them.

6. Because I feel personally responsible for this as a part of our patriarchal society, like we all are at some level, and I want to do my bit by influencing some people positively.

7. I blog about anything which I feel strongly about. I have, and I do, blog about other issues: link, link, link, link, link, link

8. If other people have other important issues to talk about, they are free to write about them.

// Not everyone in this world is same. Some are good and some are bad. Only some men are sexual predators. //

I never said that everyone is the same. In fact, I always maintained that anyone who really believes and stands up for equality of genders is a feminist. I even noted in writing, that not all men are misogynists and not all women are feminists.

No feminist would ever say that all men are potential rapists or sexual predators, because that is the opposite of what we believe in. We believe, unlike most misogynists, that men are rational beings who can understand and recognize the rights of other human beings, and therefore, can be held accountable for their actions. We disagree with the rape apologists' assertion that men are like animals who can lose 'control' and get provoked into violating other people's rights. We think this kind of rape apologia is insulting to men, and the humankind as a whole.

At the same time, we need to ask: Why do only people of one gender happen to assault other people sexually? What makes men rape - IHM: link? How does our society encourage male sexual entitlement? Shouldn't we tell those who believe they have a right to other people's bodies, that sex without consent is a violation of human rights, which they cannot get away with? And may be, men in regressive societies where women are not respected or valued are more prone to 'losing control' - IHM: link?

// Mostly, women themselves are responsible for the discrimination they face. //

Discrimination should be condemned irrespective of who is engaging in it, and that goes for women too. Besides, this isn't about men Vs. women. This is about discrimination Vs. equality, rape culture Vs. a society which respects everyone's rights, patriarchy Vs. feminism.

Patriarchy doesn't place all men at the same level of advantage and all women at the same level of disadvantage. Parents of female children are in the lower order of social hierarchy as compared to parents of male children, so some women are more privileged than the others. So probably, a woman is not a woman's worst enemy. Patriarchy is - IHM: link.

Also wanted to note: I've repeatedly heard people quoting misogynist women in the context of gender discrimination (to serve what purpose, I am not sure, because feminists already acknowledge that some women are misogynistic, and I don't see why this should deter us advocating that all people deserve equal human rights). May be, we need to understand this:

// 1. Men not being sexist shouldn't be contingent upon women not being misogynist. They should stop being misogynist just because it's the right thing to do. 2. Men and women are misogynist for different reasons: men to marginalize women, and women to ingratiate themselves with the men trying to marginalize them. Neither one is justifiable, but one is oppressive and the other is a (bad) strategy to deal with that oppression. 3. One thus sees that if the men who are misogynists weren't, the women who are misogynists wouldn't have any reason to be. Ergo, exhorting women to stop being misogynists so that men will stop gets is precisely backwards. That doesn't mean we shouldn't encourage women not to be self-loathing misogynists. It only means that we probably shouldn't treat them as somehow more responsible for sexism than sexist men. // - Melissa McEwan: link

// Parenting in our society is biased against daughters. It is common to give preferential treatment to sons in most families. This is the root cause of all discrimination. //

Perfectly said. Parents have a critical role to play in shaping the lives of their children. Which is why, if Indian parents started prioritizing their daughters' independence, happiness and self reliance over their daughters Getting Married and Staying Married, we would not have problems related to dowry, female foeticide and many other forms of gender discrimination.

Which means that parents should encourage their daughters to 'be somebody' with a strong sense of identity and self-worth, than instilling inferiority and teaching their daughters to 'please adjust'. They need to stop being over-protective about their girl children and let their daughters learn to be independent. Parents who constrain their daughters' freedom and independence by not 'allowing' them to stay away from home, parents who don't 'let' their daughters travel anywhere on their own, parents who obsess over their daughters' marriage irrespective of their daughters' career achievements and goals, parents who think of nothing else but teaching their daughters to be 'good wives', need to understand this.

But what makes Indian parents not value their girl children? What makes them treat their daughters as 'Paraya Dhan' - IHM: link? Can we blame everything on patriarchy - IHM: link? Why don't Indian parents consider self reliance and independence of their daughters to be as important as their daughters' marriage? Do you think if Indian parents stop seeing their girl children as future daughters in law, things might help? Also, how important is it for a girl to get married and stay married - IHM: link?

May be, only when raising ideal daughters in law is not their goal, would Indian parents would be able to enjoy having and bringing up girl children  - IHM: link.

// Sex selective abortions are reprehensible. //

Agreed. And they are reprehensible because women are human beings who have as much right to be born as anyone else, not because our future sons will not have enough women to marry and serve them.

But why do Indian parents not want to have girl children? This is the root of the problem - IHM: link. And if you don't treat the cause, the problem will never go - IHM: link.

// Mothers too voluntarily participate in aborting their girl children. //

This is something which needs to be condemned.

Also, skewed sex ratio is not caused by sex selective abortions - IHM: link. Parents not wanting to have or raise girl children lead to sex selective abortions. May be it is time to ask: Why do Indian parents not want to have girl children? And what could make even the average, selfish, money-minded Indian family welcome baby girls - IHM: link?

// Parents should be held accountable for what they teach their sons. //

Yes. In general, parents have the responsibility of bringing up their children to be good human beings who respect other people's rights.

In the specific context of sexual assaults, our society, as a whole should be held accountable for the rape culture which we have helped propagate, by victim blaming and encouraging male sexual entitlement. Each one of us needs to do our bit by educating people about gender equality, and condemning rape apologia.

// I blame the mother in particular, because as a woman, she needs to teach her sons to respect women. //

Parenting involves equal responsibilities from all the parents. I don't understand why fathers can be blamed less or excused more for their children's upbringing. You don't need to be a woman to make your children, or anyone understand that women are human beings, whose rights should be respected like anyone else's.

And yes, parents should teach their children to respect others' rights and to not assault others.

// Parents shouldn't defend their sons if they engage in sexual assaults. //

Completely agree. Our entire society too should stop defending rapists through different versions of rape apologia and victim blaming.

// Discrimination is not restricted to gender. It manifests itself in many forms. //

I am against all those forms of oppressive discrimination as well. In fact, that is the basis of feminism: that everyone deserves equal rights.

// Discrimination is something which we need to accept and put up with because it is unavoidable. //

I don't understand this. I know that discrimination exists in many different forms, which is why I am blogging about against it! Moreover, putting up with discrimination has never proved to be a good way to deal with it, as history shows. Imagine a world where slavery is rampant and slaves decided to simply put up with it, we would never have reached where we are today.

Also, asking someone who is discriminated against to put up with discrimination actually amounts to discrimination. That's how discrimination works: by silencing, by subduing, by pretending that it doesn't exist, by making those who are discriminated against accept it as the 'norm'.

Related posts:

1. Will we fail our future generation - link

2. Lechindi... nidra lechindi mahila lokam... - link

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