A weeks or so ago, I heard about a terrible news story. The sad fact is, on the 16th of December 2012, Jyoti Singh Pandey, a young Indian student, was brutally raped by five men and later died of her injuries. It is not a pleasant story, to say the least. But when I first heard about this story, my second reaction (after "That's Horrible") was, "Isn't this old news?".
I heard about the story after New Year's Day. It was a month old, and I was a little surprised people were still talking about it. But the reason why struck me rather hard.This is was another one of those breaking points. Just as the Utah Shooting brought up gun policy, this woman's torturous death has brought up a whole slew of issues including Indian Policing, Law Reform & (most dramatically) Attitudes towards Women.
And seeing as how I am in a staggeringly non-prevalent minority, this whole thing has shaken up everything I thought I knew about the 21st Century.
Folks, the Word of the Day is: 'FEMINISM'
You know what I hate more than anything? Disrespect. I am a calm person, usually, and I can take most things with a grain of salt. But I get really goddamn mad when someone treats me differently than I deserve. When someone lies to; steals from or cheats me out of something they have no right to, I get wall-punchingly furious.
I'd like to think that, while most people don't consider it as big a Berserk Button as I do, they'll understand where I'm coming from. I hold respect in high regard. I "Respect Respect", you could say.
I also happen to believe that "Once True, Always True", and that no matter what, I deserve to be treated with the same respect. Even if I, say, had a vagina. Which is why I don't really like it when people seem to subjugate, disrespect, or generally "hate on" the much prettier half of the human species.
To put it simply, I'm a Feminist.
If you're not familiar with the term, this may be confusing. Since most people only think feminists are women wanting to improve life for themselves and other women. But being a woman isn't necessary to being a feminist. Just ask Dictionary:
Feminism /'femənizəm/ n. Advocacy of equal rights and opportunities for women, especially the extension of their activities in social and political life.
It all began in the 20th Century when women argued that they had the right to suffrage.
[Suffrage /'sufrij/ n. The right of voting, especially in political elections.]This lead to the movement of Suffragettes who won that battle, and have been voting in America from then to present day.
There have been different waves and variations on the basic mold, but no matter whether you're a Riot Grrrl or a Neo-Feminist, as time has gone on Feminism has been fighting against sexist, unfair laws and winning women's rights to do everything from firefighting; to politics to kick-boxing. And while it's covered a lot of ground, there's still a ways to go.
Women still don't always get equal pay for equal work, and there are some issues of law and politics that need to be overhauled and redesigned (with a woman's touch).
But there's a much larger problem that I see, which kind of brings me to a grinding halt in all of these issues. And it is, indeed: Attitudes towards Women.
The year is 2013. We've got computers with greater capacity than the human brain. We've got cures for diseases that didn't even exist when medicine first started. We have the internet, we have mobile phones and we have Blogger.com -
But way too often, men still seem to think:
Men have Jobs; Women have Chores.People think women aren't as strong as men; that they aren't as good at maths, or computers or writing as men; that they aren't as funny as men; that they aren't as business-savvy as men & (the most ridiculous of all) that a woman's "job" is to take care of children, house & home, while men have a career.
I'm not saying this is wrong. Because I don't have to, that's obvious. Rather, I am going to explain why it's wrong.
A lot of that stuff all boils down to the notion: 'Woman are dumber and weaker than Men'. As for being dumber, the fact that I have to explain this to men, proves that wrong. But to be clear:
There is no definitive link between gender and intelligence.
I'd go find the research and data for it. But as it turns out YOU have an internet connection. Hit up Google and do your own damn research! Because there's a lot there that proves me right and I'm not going to waste my time listing it all. I have a blog post to write.
As for women being weaker, if at all, this is caused by conditioning. It's reminds me of that other fun fact:- Black people can't swimDid you know that? It's a hilarious fact when you consider that it's not only very racist, but also completely untrue. It was once statistically 'accurate', because most of the black people (back when this was first claimed) didn't have swimming pools, or access to large bodies of water. And swimming isn't terribly important if you aren't at risk of drowning. So they didn't bother to learn.
The same is true of women and strength. Women are usually not as strong as men. But that is because they aren't given an environment, in which they need to build muscle. There are quite a few men, in fact, who think women with toned muscle are ugly [I like to call these men assholes]. It's part of our culture which some Feminism hopes to change, but so far that culture means women don't try to build muscle. That doesn't mean they can't. Feel free to argue all you want that it's is harder for a woman to build muscle, but that doesn't make all women weak. It just means that "Weak Women are Weak". Thank you, Captain Obvious.
Now, I left this one for last, because I have the most to say. This is the one that even smart, intelligent and caring people, seem to fall into. In fact, some women have come to believe it, though it is so drastically missing the point of Feminism:
Women Should take Care of the Home
And here, I can see your point. It's stupid, and wrong, but I can see it. It goes something like this:
"Men and women are different. So they have different roles in the heterosexual, monogamous relationship: The Man is the breadwinner and the Woman, the caretaker."
Okay, okay . . . you're right. Men and women are different. You've passed biology. But you've failed sociology. For one thing, a lot of these men don't want women to take care of their home. They want women to take care of them.
To which I say - grow up.
For another thing, women can't do all of the housework, because she already has a job. Wrap your brainbox around that one, poindexter. How can a woman take care of house and home, when most women are at work nine to five? This trend is still on the rise in America, but here in Australia it's the default for modern couples.
Now, there are some women that emigrate to Australia from other countries, such as India, that become part of a dual-income couple because of the economy, and yet still do all the housework. But that is because of Indian culture and tradition. A sexist tradition which is under scrutiny, thanks to the new Indian political climate right now.
"But what about women that don't have a job? The likes of Stay-at-home Mums, or even women on maternity leave?" I hear you ask, "Isn't it better that the mother stay home with the child?"
I don't believe anyone, ever HAS to do anything, based on gender, race, belief or culture. Sure, it may seem like a given: women are caring, women are mothers, and if they kid's real young, women have the breasts to feed them - it seems so straightforward!
But I take issue with the ideal that men can't be caring or maternal. And there is such a thing as a breast pump, if the kid is still suckling. So, can't the man do that?
Woman can do what Men can do what women can do.
That's the ideal of Equal Rights. Now, I'm not saying that women should not stay at home and care for their kids if they want to. I'm not saying you can't be a housewife and take care of your husband. But the most important aspect is choice. I think everyone deserves the right to choose, and be treated fairly and equally in their choice.Because it doesn't matter about gender.
I mean, if you really think men and women have to operate that way - what about homosexual couples? They work out just fine . . . although that's a much larger discussion for a later post. What's most important is that EVERYONE is treated with the same rights and respect as everyone else.
Sure, we're different. Psychologically, biologically & socio-culturally. But I'm not asking you to stop treating her like a woman, I'm asking you to start treating her like a human.
THAT is what it means to be a Feminist.