A Feminist Manifesto

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 na├»ve 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.


  1. Blog
    V.logical article! Feminism doesn't exist..
    Few Women who are their own enemies fool themselves and others by playing such "ism".

    Real gutsy women don't need any'o such label, they just stand firmly for their right stands.

  2. One of the classic judgmental types?

    The realities of deciding to be a feminist or not are more complicated it seems than the basic knowledge of sex.

    anyways real gutsy women too need a firm stand :-)

    The End.

  3. Circle: I agree with the logical bit, but feminism does and must exist. My problem with it, as any movement, is that it does not accept individuality and differences.

    Since I have acepted the label, as I accept several others, I guess I am not gutsy :-(
    - - -
    Amandeep: Were you responding to your friend or to the piece?

    Nevertheless...every opinion is a judgement.

    Of course being a feminist has to do with more than "basic knowledge" of sex; in fact you need to know much more about the subject, as about several others. But feminism does have to deal with sexual politics and almost all commentators have had to grapple with this issue.

    I have deliberately been facetious to turn the argument on its head.

    "anyways real gutsy women too need a firm stand :-)"

    The sarcasm, wherever directed, has been noted and appreciated!

    Never The End.

    PS: I have had interesting emails, but the cutest one is from a man who ends by commenting on my last line, "But I only have a Maruti (Jen)"...his spelling...

  4. amandeep

    Yes, real gutsy women do stand firmly against those males who always stand firm even at the sight of any animal species and are ready to attack anytime.

    Standing up for your rights regardless of your gender is basic human right, nothing to do with feminism as feminsism doesn't exist in my dictionary.

  5. Circle: I agree that one has to go beyond gender, but it is not merely a question of 'rights' but being.

    What I have been saying is precisely this: One does not have to follow the dictionary meaning of everything, because life throws up different challenges to different people.

  6. "jaane kya hota hai har baat pe kuchh hota hai
    din mein kuchh hota hai aur raat mein kuchh hota hai
    thaam lena jo kabhi dekho hamein udate hue
    aaj kal paaon zameen par nahin padate mere"

    Quintessential Farzana!

    'Too udta chal!'

    Blessings from an old lady.


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