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.
tumblr_mwuc0m4ERX1qedf7ko6_r2_500

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 : Slut Shaming

I was thinking of posting yesterday but, something came up at the last moment which made me ¬†quite busy. So, any way Happy Woman’s Day to you all. let us all celebrate our womanhood and not judge others on how they choose to showcase it. So, today I address slut shaming, an issue that is quite close to my heart.

When I was younger, I went to a mall with a few of my friends and one of them clicked the photo of a girl in a short skirt. She was standing in the counter of a restaurant and one of the boys clicked her picture. the picture remained a focal point of discussion that day and we talked through the conversation about how short the skirt was. I could not even begin tom imagine why someone would buy such a skirt much less wear it. The weather then was quite unfavorable for it too, as I remember is was a frosty December eve when the picture was clicked.
Now, that I look back it seems like one of those things that I will regret forever. I am changed now and much more enlightened about the society but, back then all that mattered was the fact that she looked different. That she did not conform to the standards of dressing that everyone around us was much happy to oblige to. Now, when I go out, the number of such girls has increased, and even my male friends have ceased to comment on the shortness of a skirt when someone passes them on the road. Yet, slut shaming is still a glaring problem in our society.

Slut-shaming refers to the idea of shaming a woman for dressing or acting in a certain way that the society thinks is perverse. It can be something as simple as wearing a short skirt to something like twerking. Apparently women are supposed to follow a certain set of rules handed down from ancestors so that they do not appear perverse. however, if she does follow a bit too many of those rules the same woman is subjected to insults for being a “prude”.

judgments-by-posey-rosea

It starts at a young age when everyone is told about the rules of dressing. My cousin even went as far as to argue that men had the right to ogle and cat call at girls if they wore a certain kind of clothing. One of my friends used to decide who was a virgin and who was not by the lengths of their tops and skirts. These are everyday issues that we face at every moment but, we are scared to speak out. Simple because this is something about which our debates are more likely to bring us the same label that the victims have; “SLUT”.

Many a reason is given for slut shaming, some even go as far as to say that we feminists are so outraged about the issue because mostly they are right. They have the right to judge people on the basis of the clothes they wear and go forward to say that the woman is probably “asking for it”.

95a96db466849879cd3cc7e6c8b0d8c2305949d0e5d786251be94e03d65ced77

It is not that slut shaming makes women worthless, that words hurt to the point that it makes women question themselves and they are bullied into a corner that forces them to stop expressing themselves with their clothes. Bullying is not the only reason slut shaming is bad. it is bad because even today a woman being labelled as a “slut” would probably get more severely judged by the society for getting raped. It is harmful because it propagates and encourages victim blaming. It promotes rape culture.

I seriously do not want to be labelled as one of those feminists who cannot end a post without screaming “Rape” but, am I so wrong in saying that it is important to view the issue in this light? It is very easy to wear our big glasses and say that a woman is wrong for being a certain way because we cannot possibly imagine someone wearing a certain piece of clothing. it is very easy I admit. However, it is wrong.

So, fight slut shaming and stand up for your writes. it is your body and you deserve the right to cover it the way you wish to..

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…