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May
25

The Other Kind of “Feminist” ?

There are tons of women folk in the blogger world who write about feminist issues – highly thought provoking ones too. Lots of causes are taken up and written about and wonderfully researched. I admire their patience and level of depths researched on the subjects they post.

I do read some of them and find them interesting. I follow this lovely lady blogger – she blogs on lots of issues and sensitive ones, some which are very close to my heart. I don’t know her much other than her posts and having shared a few interactions with her.

What happened in the last few days has left me surprised. I leave it for you folks to judge the whole issue – it is the first I’ve faced in my online life.  I was contemplating if I should  share this episode but then I felt I should. If I don’t speak my mind on my space then where?

Here is a post on Starry’s blog where she shared her anger or frustration at this video clip of Nadal-Steffi marriage proposals doing the rounds. Now some idiot titled it “Big difference between men and women”. I had seen Steffi’s bit on a stand-alone basis and thought she was extremely witty. Even when I saw this jointly I did not feel offended ( I would realise later what blasphemy I had committed towards womankind;-) ). I thought that in similar situations the woman showed much more wit while the man was left speechless. Now some women found it sexist , offensive that the clip shows that women marry for money. On Starry’s post – of those 50 comments, I was probably the only one to to have a contrasting  opinion that this clipping was no big deal and we women need to learn to take a joke.

In her next post she took bits and pieces from my comments and put forth her views.

My comment:

Aren’t there more important issues to be feminist about:-) some jokes we can let go:-). Do men take jokes well – guess am surrounded by the wrong men cause we take digs at them all time on ‘men traits’ and they take it well and we enjoy the banter 🙂 Not to say there aren’t those types that you point out 🙂

Her views:

“Do you feel there are less or more important feminist issues? If a man takes a dig at a woman through a joke, is it less important than ‘eve-teasing’ (better known as sexual harrassment)? Or what can we consider more important? Rape? Dowry? Female infanticide?”

Is it the same? Sexist Joke and eve-teasing, rape, dowry, female infanticide? Are we not belittling those crimes by comparing them to something as petty as a sexist joke.  By this logic there should be no jokes in this world – the Sardarji jokes, the South Indian-North Indian jokes, the Ghati jokes – If you have laughed over them, are you are being a rascist? If you joke about celebrities and politicians – are you being judgemental towards people? If you enjoy those marriage jokes – are you being sexist again? So where do we draw a line?

We need to laugh, to take a few things lightly, men-women banter is one of them. Was this clip that offensive? What if it was reversed – what if Nadal had said what Steffi did? Would I see an outrage from the men-folk? But maybe it would have again resulted in an outrage from women saying it implies “dowry”.

If you read my comments on the first post from where it all began – I just tried to lighten up the issue where I saw so many women all riled up against this bit. No where did I get personal or offensive or deride anyone’s views.

And here is a second thought,  in all probability if a guy did put this clip together, he probably wanted to see women outrage; which they did and he had his share of fun. Now sit back and think for a moment – if you had laughed over it and ignored it – the guy would be probably fretting for not getting the reaction he wanted. Go figure who has had the last laugh now.

Further Starry brought up the topic of discrimination against women drivers and I said sadly I have seen more bad women drivers than men – my experience, my opinion. I did not say this on behalf of the whole world. (Btw I got my license first, I drive a SUV and I drive very well. I land up driving most times, I’m the official driver when my girl gang takes off  and when going out with MDH, he sits in the passenger seat most times. So now do I qualify for the “feminist” category? Would my opinion count now ? ) This led to her post on “Are women bad drivers”. Writing a post is fine,  it is one’s blog – where one opines. Singling out bits and pieces of my one-off comments without knowing the person I’m was a bit uncalled for. We did settle it offline and she does tell me it is not personal.  I’m taking her word but I did feel the need to post my views.

I do not share or agree with all “feminist” opinions – but I do feel for a lot of women issues strongly. What kind of feminist does that make me or am I feminist at all if I don’t share the “common” views?

Until my next post you give it a thought and let me know what you think of this whole episode? Was it worth all this debate after all?

4 comments

  1. Himali says:

    Minal,

    I wont reveal the name but this indian fellow in my Dallas office once called me to his cubicle on pretext of showing me a work related document and instead showed me a picture of two girls where a relatively ‘top heavy’ girl stood pressed against another who wasnt so well endowed. The caption above read “yahi duniya ki reet hai.. ke bade chote ko dabate hai”.
    i was surrounded by 3 other men who laughed. i was supposed to laugh too but i didnt. I thought it was offensive because it crossed the borders of decency and the expected behavior in a work environment. i looked at the guys and told them that the next time this happened, they will all be fighting a sexual harrassment case all their lives, sitting at home pennyless.
    Such incidents should be discouraged and stopped and i feel that my reaction to this was appropriate because the severity was on a very different level….

    but when i saw this video, it was posted by my manager (who is the best i have had so far) and my instant reply to him was “women have better sense of humor”. believe me, my roommates who happen to “share” the same manager gave me hard time for writing that. They wanted me to be ‘feminist’ and i was confused as to why such a small thing should trigger ‘feminism’ in me. i am soooooooo happy & relieved – if thats the right word to say here to have found another woman agreeing to it.

    Most of the times the word Feminist is used way too out of its real context. A feminist need not be a woman who starts bashing men at every single word uttered ‘not in support’ of women. i am not even using word ‘against’. 😀
    if we really are the better sex, do we really need to defend ourselves against such jokes and ‘harmless’ videos? we have far more better things to do. what irks me more is the commercialisation of the female sex that you see at every step of life. A shaving gel advert where you see a female lurking somewhere in the end to prove just how better it is or a suggestive massage in a painkiller advert are far more offensive than such videos.

    we again cannot really compare such videos with dowry or domestic violence issues. You can see such a video, smile and shrug it off…. its not even worth considering or worthy of having a debate on.. 😛

    Cheers,
    Himali

    PS: This reply is not because i know you.. I read almost every blog of yours but hardly write on any.. i am one of those silent readers.. 😉 but this just made me pen down my thoughts… 🙂

    1. Minal says:

      Himali,
      I’m a silent reader of your blog too and most times I find myself nodding in agreement to all you write:-) So that makes two of us. Thanks for writing – I’m glad I’ve one voice who has understood why I could laugh out on that video. I would have acted in the same way if I was shown the first video you were talking about – so I’m rather proud of you when you did what you did.
      I believe strongly there is no such thing as “feminism” – people abuse the term. Women are no saints and neither are men. It boils down to people – and how they face challenges and the biases, and deal with them. If I could make my granny go back on her disappointment of a girl’s birth when I was born and proclaim later that I was the grandchild that did her most proud – there in lies my victory – not the victory of a woman – but my victory – my parents victory. No competition between girl and boy – but the fact that she saw both are equal. No one better than the other.

      I don’t get up in arms making every bit a feminist issue – women make a big deal out of it and it is not required. Take up causes – that is important; equating harmless videos to severe crimes like rape and dowry – is not what feminism is about.

  2. starry eyed says:

    I’m glad you blogged about it, Minal. I think free and open disagreement is fine, if there is no name-calling or personal attacks. As I explained to you already, I did not attack you personally. I took a comment you’d left on my blog that I disagreed with, and made a post out of it, because I had a lot to say (I have even more to say…maybe another blogpost will follow 😉 ) If I had found your comment insignificant or nonsensical, then I would’ve ignored or deleted it.

    It seems to have offended you that I picked out your comment from all others, ‘just because you disagreed’. And that I took your name. It’s not that at all. I wanted to extend the discussion, and it WAS your comment, so I said it was. I have quoted comments from people who agreed with me before. As well as from people who disagreed with me.

    Nobody has attacked you. The view you expressed is one several people share, that ‘we need to laugh off jokes about women’. I and most of my blog’s commenters rejected that viewpoint. The VIEWPOINT. Not you. Why does it make you feel like an outcast? We only expressed our opinions about the jokes and stereotypes. Where has anyone in either of my posts professed to know you or attacked your personality?

    That said, it takes a lot of guts to stand up among 20-30 commenters (only that many, the rest were my replies 🙂 ) and disagree, so hats off to you and thank you. It’s why I like to have someone disagreeing with my posts…if we can discuss it in a healthy way, that’s the whole point of blogging.

    And also to clarify (again), I found the wit funny, I found the clips of drivers doing dumb things funny. I did NOT appreciate the gender stereotyping, I found it sexist. It’s my viewpoint.

    And just as you felt women should lighten up with regard to jokes about them, maybe I could also say to you, be sporting and laugh it off when your views are disagreed with. To each her own, right? 🙂

    I have had and continue to have violent disagreements with several real-life friends and blog-friends (those I’ve not met). We remain friends. If someone takes my comments or posts and links back or quotes me openly and discusses their response and opinions to them, I think it’s fine. Misquoting, name-calling, character attacks or oblique references to ‘some bloggers’ is not ok.

    And nobody called you any kind of feminist or non-feminist either. We were talking about feminist issues only. Not people.

    As for which jokes I don’t find funny, any jokes against any class of traditionally oppressed people is not ok with me. Yes, I may laugh at one or two of them, but not at a constant stream of jokes against that class or category of people. How about jokes against Dalits? Muslims? Blacks? Aborigines? Sex workers? Tibetans? Eunuchs? Divorced people? Single mothers? I haven’t heard any jokes against these people. or maybe I have, but they came across as disrespectful. Just as jokes about women’s abilities, characteristics, or roles, do. I’ve reclassified them as sexist statements.

    1. Minal says:

      Starry, I guess I did not make my self clear. I was not surprised over disagreement. That is fine – that’s how it should be. I was upset for singling out my comments and putting them in a wrong context. Do you think – that if you had posted about rape, dowry, infanticide a similar reaction would’ve come out from me? That was my issue – equating my nonchalance towards the harmless video to other crimes against women. To me it is not a feminist issue of the same severity. Hope that is cleared up now. I did laugh off the disagreement we had on your posts in the comments but do you really expect me to not feel affected when my comments are put up in the wrong context? I think not and hence I first settled it offline with you and then wrote my viewpoint. Hope it is all cool now.

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