Maverick: A Feminist Manifesto
by Farzana Versey
The Asian Age, Op-Ed, March 6, 2007
Her eyes pierced mine, the embers of her anger lined in ashen kohl. “For goddess’s sake, it is wimmin, not women!” she said.
I felt pity for her. Her career depended on seeing everything – cookery to clitoris – from a feminist perspective. She floundered when she sought political correctness in nomenclature, but forgot to include the gods in it. You want a goddess, then you darn well get a poetess.
Cut out the piffle. After all the trouble it is silly to call one another ‘sistahs’ like it is some Harlem kitty party.
It is unfortunate that feminism hasn’t grown up as a movement. It is still about the proprietorial “Woman with a body and mind of her own”, as though someone is going to take these away. Trust me, no one is planning to borrow your G-spot.
What? This is not important? Feminists who write learned theses on sexuality silently accept the falsity dished out by male sexologists. What puts me off is when a guy whimpers that his is small and wonders if he will be able to satisfy a woman, the ‘expert’ tells him, “A woman experiences pleasure within two inches of her vagina. Size has nothing to do with it.”
Why are all women being herded into this two-inch space? Why don’t they take out protest morchas against such denial of individual needs and reductionism?
They have become territorial about certain issues that ought to be the concern of men who are responsible for these, anyway – rape, domestic violence, dowry deaths, female foeticide.
Feminist breakthroughs have in fact trapped women and freed men.
Live-in relationships: Here you fake a whole marriage, including paisley curtains, instead of orgasms.
The Pill: Women pop it to avoid pregnancy, not to empower themselves. That is exactly what men want – a woman who is not seeking posterity for her egg.
The Dildo: Guess who has the biggest smile? No performance anxiety, no worries. Woman going whirr and man going zzzz.
Lingerie liberty: In the beginning they burned bras. It was a symbolic gesture but there have been naïve women who took it quite literally. The Victoria’s Secret we shared was sacrificed at St. Michael’s altar. Why? No more fumbling with straps for men. As a bonus they also got wet T-shirt contests.
A fledgling artist who spends her time in society pages has decided to paint male nudes because she is tired of the ‘women as sex objects’ logic. “I decided to reverse the roles and asked how men would feel if I made them sex kittens?”
The male ego would feel gratified; they are aching to be sex kittens. It is like this: After unleashing the beast in them in bed men, unlike women, don’t go into moral spasms and ask, “I hope you don’t think I am like that”.
Like what? Is the dreaded word ‘whore’? Women writers complain they are called whores when they write about sex. Should they mind it? Yes, as much as they ought to when they are called scientists, simply because it is unfair to the categories of women who are qualified in those fields.
Why did the committed actress take umbrage when the moon-sighting imam called her a “naachne-gaanewaali”? No one would assume that the man has much sense, but what made the feminist in her protest? Has she not used this very section of women to ‘get into the character’ for certain roles? Does she too look down upon them?
Objectification of women at the level of mass marketing is disconcerting. However, the idea of demand and supply is there in all human endeavours, including spirituality. A naked sadhu could be a sexual object when seen outside the context of his particular form of spiritualism.
Every ideology is based on countering an established premise. But an ‘ism’ should work as a prism and show us varied colours. I wouldn’t even read a book called Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus because gender differences are obvious to the naked eye and an open mind.
Much as I admire Gloria Steinem for her fishnet stockings, I think she could do with better similes than “A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle” to underscore the dispensability of men. The other sharp-shooter, Maureen Dowd, asked in her eponymous book: “Are men necessary?”
I find this poser insulting to women. Why do we have to view the world in a male-centric way? Even lesbians who claim to be feminists are playing roles. There is the typically dominant partner, who looks and acts like a man.
The new wave has spawned a series of supposedly sensitive men. Watch the ladies who lunch. Mrs. Khanna will tell Mrs. Gaitonde, “Haan ji, mere has-bend bohat isportive hain.” Fortunately, this supportive husband is not like the urban rake who apes the woman aping the man to call himself a feminist. This creature has depilated his whole body, put little pouches of pot-pourri in his closet, wears net shirts and tells his women ‘buddies’, “I understand where you are coming from”, as though they don’t know.
I still call myself a feminist just as I call myself a woman. I do believe as much in International Women’s Day as I do in ‘Share a smile’ day. Every occasion is a celebration. Will I take to the streets? Sure. Just send me the limo.