Monday, July 13, 2015

Feminism – Back Then

I have been very firm about a few things, stuff like how I am not a feminist and how I do not get the male bashing feminist culture that is taking over the world today. It seems like being a feminist comes with a side of man-hating and I truly do not partake in any of that.

So, a couple of days ago I was having a discussion with my mother about my periods, yes this is the time I get most of my bizarre ideas about how I could remove my uterus and sustain its function. This discussion somehow happened this time while I was pretending to help her in the kitchen, only wanting to vent and whine. During this, something hit me and it hit me very hard. It also showed me the face of feminism in an oppressed situation.

I remember having these heated arguments with people in college and in lectures, back when peer pressure had made me a self-righteous feminist. Anyway, the discussion was basically about how our society was so regressive and how poor women would not be allowed to touch spices or enter the kitchen when they were menstruating and how brutal it was.

Now here is the scenario, here were these women who woke up at the crack of dawn, bathed and then woke everyone up. Cleaned the house and made breakfast for everyone, while that was going on she also packed lunch for the men to take with them. As soon as the men left, they would start preparing for lunch, once lunch was done and they got done clearing up and cleaning, it was already time to prepare for the evening tea. Barely a couple of hours of rest and they had to begin preparations for dinner.

Imagine this scenario, imagine living in this state; now how does this sound, 3 days of no one coming close to you, you being fed and cooked for, you being able to just be by yourself, no one cussing or constantly criticising or breathing down your throat, the mean leaving you alone (read: not wanting sex). How does this sound?

Here’s the thing, the thing that hit me in the midst of my tirade of emotions was that this, this system of impurity and the fact that women were not allowed to “touch the pickle” (yes I went there), was maybe created by women. I know it was difficult for me to digest as well, it sounds really awful for a woman to do this to another woman. But this sounds like an amazing option to recuperate, while the God-fearing society stayed away from you for whatever reason. Yes you were left alone in one corner, it was like there was this corner was assigned to you but doesn't it sound better than someone barraging you all the time with orders and expletives? I am not saying every household had these annoying people, but mother-in-laws weren't always modern.

Back then sex was a recreational activity, mainly for the man, it was hardly ever pleasurable for the woman, be it because of its taboo status in our society. So how would it feel to just have those 3 nights to you, just sleeping by yourself? Apart from that, food was being fed to you directly, made for you, you did not have to clean up or clear up. I have read about these practices a lot and it hasn't been mentioned anywhere that the women were abused physically during this time at all. Now, when it comes down to someone calling you impure or some other form of an insult, you probably would've heard much more.

I am not belittling the fact that our ancestors did lead a very tough life. I am also not saying that our society wasn't backward; it was and still is to some extent. But all I am saying is feminism was not completely dead then. Apart from the powerful women who were out there fighting for our rights there were some of these not so powerful ones as well, who weren't confrontational but were smart enough to find a loophole to get their way somehow.

This is the school of feminism that I support, it does not always have to be out there, it doesn't always have to be a fight; sometimes it just has to be that one subtle act that may seem like it is in favour of the seemingly powerful party but actually is in turn helping you. I am not into man hating, I love them, and in fact there are times when I support them a little more because they somehow end up getting the shorter end of the stick. Feminism as I have always believed is being proud of who you are, the way you are and respecting that, but also respecting every other human being. It is learning from our ancestors, the problems they have faced but also looking at every problem through a different looking glass. Women have had it tough in this world, but I believe they have and always will be strong beings and they have and always will find their way. 
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