If there is one word that brings a huge smile on the faces of urban English-speaking middle-class Indian women it is Feminism. The mere utterance of this word makes them feel elated and empowered. You will constantly hear young girls pronounce with great pride that they are Feminists. Now on the face of it, this seems to be a very laudable thing. After all, we live in the 21st century and any modern society should aspire for gender equality. In fact, I would go a step further and say that if a society wants to call itself modern & liberal one of the most important benchmarks would be the status of women in that society.
No sane person can deny the fact that if we look at the entire history of the human race, women have had a raw deal in differing proportions across cultures. And, it is this inequality that led to the rise of Feminism in the West during the 19th century. But we need to ask some very important questions within the context of feminism itself. Is there a universal brand of Feminism? If yes, what is it? If not, can Feminism be culture specific? If it is culture specific, why bother calling it Feminism in the 1st place? Can a person be committed to Gender equality and pro-women issues and not call oneself a feminist?
The way things are today, the entire dissemination of ideas, structures, labels etc all flow in a unidirectional mode i.e from the west to the east. In such a lopsided flow, all the laws in India have been formulated primarily on the assumptions that are drawn from the kind of problems faced by women in western societies. And this is where the problem lies. The West has gradually gone from 1st wave feminism to the latest man hating 3rd wave feminism. This has led to confusion among our own people. Let us now look at some of the laws in India which are completely in favour of women:
1. IPC Section 497: “Adultery.—Whoever has sexual intercourse with a person who is and whom he knows or has reason to believe to be the wife of another man, without the consent or connivance of that man, such sexual intercourse not amounting to the offence of rape, is guilty of the offence of adultery, and shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years, or with fine, or with both. In such case, the wife shall not be punishable as an abettor.”
So only the man is punished for adultery! Is our constitution saying women are incapable of adultery?
2. IPC Section 375 point 4: “Rape.—A man is said to commit “rape” who, except in the case hereinafter excepted, has sexual intercourse with a woman under circumstances falling under any of the six following descriptions:— (Fourthly) —With her consent, when the man knows that he is not her husband and that her consent is given because she believes that he is another man to whom she is or believes herself to be lawfully married.”
So if a man has sexual intercourse with a woman while they are dating he can’t break up with the woman? And if he does he’s a rapist?
3. IPC Section 354A: ” Sexual harassment and punishment for sexual harassment
A. A man committing any of the following acts—
1. physical contact and advances involving unwelcome and explicit sexual overtures; or
2. a demand or request for sexual favours; or
3. showing pornography against the will of a woman; or
4. making sexually coloured remarks, shall be guilty of the offence of sexual harassment.
B. Any man who commits the offence specified in clause (i) or clause (ii) or clause (iii) of sub-section (1) shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.
C. Any man who commits the offence specified in clause (iv) of sub-section (1) shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both.”
The law looks fine on the face of it. But guess what, there is no such law for men. So the Indian legal system automatically assumes that men cannot be victims of sexual harassment. So much for gender equality!!!!!
4. Under Section 37 of The Special Marriage act, only women can claim permanent alimony and maintenance. Why such a lopsided law?
5. IPC 498A: “Whoever, being the husband or the relative of the husband of a woman, subjects such woman to cruelty shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine. The offence is Cognizable, non-compoundable and non-bailable.”
To understand 498A better please read Act 46 of 1983 ( http://www.498a.org/contents/amendments/Act%2046%20of%201983.pdf ) This is one of the most draconian pieces of legislation in the history of the human race. Now on the face of it, this seems to be a very noble effort to protect women. But if there is one law in India that has been misused a lot it is this one. Under this law, once the complaint is filed the husband and his parents are immediately arrested without any preliminary investigation. To make matters worse this is a non-bailable offence. So it does not matter whether the complaint is true or false, you are presumed guilty until you prove that you are innocent.
A significantly large number of the cases filed under Sec 498A turn out to be false ( http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/False-cruelty-cases-under-Section-498A-ruining-marriages-SC-says/articleshow/45424532.cms ) This law has become a tool to harass and blackmail innocent urban men and their parents. To understand these issues in detail please follow the work of Men’s Rights Activists like Deepika Bhardwaj.
And the crazy bandwagon is not going to stop here. Under constant pressure from Western Feminists, India is on the verge of finally formulating a marital rape law. As per the NHFS survey marital rapes faced by women are 8.5% (http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/marital-and-other-rapes-grossly-underreported/article6524794.ece). But there are some very important questions which need to be addressed before this idea becomes a law. What will define marital rape? Is it going to be like Section 354A where it is automatically assumed that only women can be victims of such crimes? Are men and women supposed to sign affidavits of mutual consent before every single act of sexual intercourse post this law being passed?
How far are we willing to go when it comes to legal lunacy? Have we really identified the problem? Have we mixed up counselling and social messaging with making draconian laws? Is there sufficient data that proves that post these legislations women will be benefitted? Has Gender Equality become I Hate Men? Under this assault on common sense by 3rd wave feminism can the institution of marriage really survive? If you are an unmarried Indian man should you even bother getting married under such draconian laws? Is it even worth it!!!!
Just look at the divorce statistics in America and England. Some very interesting facts come out. More than 63% of divorces are initiated by women ( http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/thinking-man/11824814/Is-feminism-destroying-the-institution-of-marriage.html ) The story in India also is very similar if we were to look at this news report ( http://archives.deccanchronicle.com/130520/news-current-affairs/article/women-pen-divorce-story ). And what’s with feminists and this new thing of looking down upon women who are homemakers. If you hang around certain elite Indian circles you will constantly hear women insulting their fellow counterparts by lines like “ OMG I don’t know how you stay at home yaar, I would go mad”. First of all, a female that stays back at home and takes care of the house is not free. She has a lot of work to do. To even say something like this shows the complete lack of intelligence on the part of the person uttering these words.
And if you think stay at home dads are attractive you are in for a shock. There are a huge number of divorce cases filed by women in that subset too. In 6 to 12 months, the attraction of a stay at home dad wears off, and the same women look for the completely opposite option🙂 So they go from the beta-male to the alpha-male🙂
Does this mean we are biologically primed to like certain things? Take another example, Sweden has for long tried to have a gender neutral society. They have gone to the extent of discouraging toy manufacturers to make gender specific toys. They say it encourages a stereotype. But studies have shown that girls are biologically inclined to like barbie dolls and boys like monster trucks🙂 That is how we are biologically made. A blog in psychology today has meticulously cited many different studies that point out very clearly that our toy preferences are linked to our biology. “Thus, work stemming from developmental psychology, comparative psychology, and endocrinology, using both non-clinical and clinical populations, and a wide assortment of dependent measures (e.g., eye gaze, digit ratio), points to an unassailable conclusion: the sex-specificity of toy preferences is shaped by sex-specific biological forces. This does not mean that parents do not reinforce these biological realities via various forms of socialisation. However, it does mean that to the extent that nurture matters, it typically takes place within boundaries set by nature. “ ( https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/homo-consumericus/201212/sex-specific-toy-preferences-learned-or-innate ). If you still have any doubts left please go and check out the Norwegian Gender Equality Paradox🙂 ( http://www.mercatornet.com/articles/view/a_funny_thing_happened_on_the_way_to_gender_equality_in_norway/15213 )
3 rd wave Feminism is built on the premise of gender neutrality. It says we are all born with an empty slate and it is socialisation that makes us the way we are. How valid is that premise? How can we deny biology? Can’t we have different preferences as a species and still aim at equality? Why is a stay at home mum inferior to a working mum? Why do we have to import context specific western solutions on our society blindly? Who gets to decide these things? Why do feminists want to ape men? 1st they ape men, then they hate men🙂
Yes, women have faced many problems in India. No one can deny that fact. But if we have an honest look at the methods applied we can safely conclude that the solution seems to be worse than the problem itself. What we need is a constant dialogue and discussion between the different sections of society. Hatred of men and draconian laws will never solve this problem. The only reason things have not gone out of proportion in India is that Indian women have shown great maturity and balance when it comes to handling these matters at a personal level.
The way things are shaping up we have to ask ourselves: is 3rd wave feminism making men, women and children happier? And is 3rd wave feminism making sure that the institution of marriage will be completely destroyed?