Understanding Feminism : Victim Blaming

One of these days I posted a video in Facebook that documented the abuse of a woman through the years (I have sadly forgotten the link) and a gentleman happily came over and said “She should get out”. Simply that, “she should get out”.
I wanted to fight but, I didn’t bother. Partly, because it would have been worthless to try and explain to him that it is not really easy for a victim of abuse to get up and leave. That severing the ties of a relationship that is so deeply embedded is not as easy as commenting on a Facebook post. The discussion that followed was quite lengthy and only thwarted by the fact that my best friend intervened and put in her word that instead of judging the victim, we should be judging the abuser and not being pricks who elbow in and try to portray themselves as better people than the victims.

The thing about victim blaming is, it is probably the most harmful thing that a person can suffer through after some traumatic experience with abuse. Imagine having to suffer through that level of trauma and then being told that you could have prevented it. Even if the person who is engaging in victim blaming does not really mean to safeguard the abuser in this case, he/she might be subjecting the victim to a far worse form of mental trauma; the one where they blame themselves.

See, it is not easy to get out of an abusive relationships. As Leslie Morgan speaks in her TED talk, abuse is not something that you can escape easily.
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Leaving beside this fact, it is not really easy to walk out of that life. it is not easy to walk out on someone you loved and someone you thought would always be with you. A lot of people think that the abuser is only a person who expresses love in a somewhat “different way”, because they are taught to believe that version of reality. A lot of victims of abuse do not understand that they are in an abusive relationship until it is too late for them to walk out freely.

An abuse victim often cannot prosecute their abusers because no matter which country you are in the discrimination persists and favors the abusers. A lot of people (in the police no less) in India think that abuse (whether physical or sexual) comes as a baggage with the relationship. The abused female often thinks that they are not being abused, that their case is similar to thousands of women around the world and that they are wrong for “not being happy”.

When an abused person is to leave the abuser, she has to severe the ties with him completely, that means relocating and trying to find a new identity. This along with the baggage of trauma and nightmares that would pretty much remain throughout her life no matter how hard she tries. PTSD, depression, these things are common for the sufferers and with these baggage she has to re-build her life in the society from group up. She would probably have to live with the fact that she would become a favorite topic for starting conversations among friends and even though they would call her an inspiration, there would be no days that go by when their conversation would not involve a triggering reference to the life she has formerly left.

This is exactly why victim blaming needs to be stopped. It is fine to live by your ideals in your own time but, the thing is everyone else does not have the same luxury. It is not easy for a woman or a man to become little less that a conversation topic to their friends, it is harder for them to leave a man or woman they loved and were completely devoted to. It is much more harder to re-build everything that the abuser took away from you. So, do NOT stay in there and say that “She could have gotten out”, she could have, yes, she could have, but, it was not as easy as your action of pressing an Enter button after writing an offensive comment.
See, there is nothing wrong with having idealist, misinformed philosophies. You are allowed to have them and be happy. However, there is something inherently wrong when your philosophies hurt another person. Just because the world you so comfortably view with your tinted sunglasses is beautiful and pitch perfect, it does not mean that the same luxury is available to others.

It all comes down to a simple fact of privilege. A lot of us are privileged to have families that would not blink an eye before coming to our rescue when an abuser torments us. A lot of us live in a world where the people would respect us for our choices and our decisions. That is all fine with me. However, your privileged status does not reflect back on the world, just because you have a life where everything is perfect does not mean that same luxury would be extended to others. This happens with every movement when someone who is comfortable comes around to say that it is not necessary to fight anymore just because their world is perfect.

This is a dangerous thing we are facing if the feminists go down and engage in victim blaming. “Every man for himself” is an apt rule to follow, it is good even but, at the end of the day it is wrong to force that rule on others. It is wrong to say that a victim, a survivor could have done something to prevent the tragedy, that she could have gotten out. This pseudo-feminist tendency to support women only if they are beautiful or fit in the category of idols in the person’s worldview is something that needs to be stopped. Feminism means equality, and we need to support everyone out there, and there is something inherently wrong with us if we cannot support a victim without adding this baggage of “you could have gotten out” with our help.
It is not a perfect world out there, and no matter what our tinted glasses claim, it is not going to be one unless we strive much harder the achieve the same.

Understanding Feminism : A Tale of Body Hair

I love looking at girls who surf. I dig the way they ride the waves and the way they are so confident. However, recently the same activity brought me face to face with something that plagues the internet forums. A picture of a woman with underarm hair was posted in a Facebook group with the simple question – “Can you tell what’s wrong with her?”
Apparently most guys caught on immediately and the post became a laugh riot. I was the one sitting clueless in the corner guessing other things. I caught on quick too, and then I felt bad. I felt bad because it was easy for me to notice too, even though I didn’t consider it wrong.

The thing remains that we often treat feminism as an outside force, something that deals with issues that exist outside our personal spheres and seldom if ever, deals with something related to us. However, patriarchy is glaringly present in our everyday life. Feminism might or might not be something of interest to you but, in this world, it is completely relevant.

The image of women that propagated by the media is a very narrow one. Few companies if any, provide a positive body image for the women. There is this view among people that women are supposed to live by some standards of beauty in order to seem acceptable in society. Don’t get me wrong, I do not wish to change your views about what you find beautiful or not, you have every right to find something or someone more beautiful than the other. However, you do not have the right to call a woman wrong if she does not conform to the extremely oppressive standards that you have created in your mind.
The phrase “Real woman” as it is used in social sites is pretty much the worst thing ever. Your womanhood is not defined by your body hair, your body type, your weight, your outlook, or anything. You are a REAL woman as long as you identify as one.

Women are more than what they look. Some may not like shaving, some might like it, some may hate doing make up while, some might take pleasure in it. These things happen. And truly, they are good. However, shaming them for their own life choices and for decisions they take for their OWN body is somehow wrong.

Perhaps the first lesson would be to accept that everything a woman does is not meant for others…

Let us ban books from now on

No seriously, let us ban books. Let us go out and ban every book we see because people are gullible aren’t they? They must be gullible enough to be torn apart by any form of text. Wow! People misunderstand us, we aren’t stopping freedom of speech, we are helping them in making their decisions. They are too stupid to make that decision for themselves. Well, that is the standard message ain’t it? In any country in the world we go to, people who assume themselves as leaders of men, step on the others and say “YOU SHOULD NOT READ THAT BOOK” because obviously they are much more learned than us and they have an authority to decide what we do and don’t read. They are smarter, more intelligent. They are our masters. Anything that doesn’t suit them, must not suit anybody that are “beneath” them and hence, must be removed.

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In India following a class action suite against the book “The Hindus : An Alternative History” by Wendy Doniger, the book was pulled out of stores by Penguin. The outrage was huge and people said that it portrayed Hinduism in a very bad light. Well, I would admit that I have not read the book (as of yet) and I do not get the rage at all. My problem is with the banning itself.

Why the hell would you ban a book? I have read several books that are disgusting for me, that effect my morality and go against my normal thoughts. They haven’t actually influenced me to go out and torch people’s homes because they weren’t co-herent with my thought processes. I do not think that reader’s are children. people who would read this book would at least have some basic knowledge about Hinduism, a faith that they could rely on.

Are you implying that your God, an immortal, an infinite being is so petty as to be affected by the slander of a mortal woman? Are you implying that your faith is built upon such shaky foundation that a few words would corrode it?

Do not be that person.

India has a long history of this. Taslima Nasrin, M.F. Hussain. Children of our own soil are thrown away from home because we do not appreciate their creative vision.

Who are we getting angry against and for what? I do not believe that the foundation of our religion is so shaky as to warrant banning of books because they cause slander to our Gods. People need to view books in a critical eye. And people need to be treated with more respect. Respect people’s intelligence and intellect and above all respect an author who has viewed things critically.

We need critical thinkers, and not people who would ban books just because they could not accept another person’s view.