I’ve been suffering from a serious case of writer’s block for the last few weeks- every time I sat down to write a new post I’d give up after a few minutes because I didn’t feel like I had anything specific to say- nothing had agitated me enough, nothing had made me angry enough.
Fortunately or unfortunately, I didn’t have to wait too long. I’d almost zoned out while scrolling down my Facebook homepage last night when a post caught my eye- someone on my list had “liked” an article- “Why I Am Not a Feminist” by Twinkle Khanna aka Mrs. Funnybones
Now I have read and enjoyed a few of her pieces, especially the one on myths about menstruation, but I had a sneaking suspicion I wouldn’t particularly like this one- I still tried to keep an open mind, took a deep breath and clicked on the link.
Very predictably it began with how Mrs. Khanna isn’t a bra burning feminist, because at her age she needs all the Victoria’s Secret uplifting support she can get- sigh. Firstly, feminists actually never did burn their bras, and secondly, I consider myself a pretty outspoken feminist- and anyone who knows me at all can tell you that if my house were on fire, I’d risk my life only to save my dog and my lingerie.
On a more serious note though, her simplistic explanation for not being a feminist made me want to pull my hair out. Apparently pre term boys have a much lower survival rate and baby girls are much more likely to survive- all scientifically true, I’m sure, she just forgot to mention the minor fact that female foeticide in India has reached genocide proportions (UNICEF’s words, not mine). So yes, maybe pre term baby girls have a higher chance of survival, but the fact is that most of them don’t even live to see the light of day.
She goes on to talk about how it has been scientifically proven that girls are more intelligent than boys. Also true, I’m sure. Every year newspaper headlines tell us that “Girls beat boys in the board exams”-but is Mrs. Funnybones seriously implying we don’t need feminism because girls score 98% and boys score 96? Way to erase all the complex hurdles women face all their lives that hinder their professional growth, Mrs. Funnybones. Girls are more intelligent than boys, yes, but I’d really love for her to explain why the number of female students steadily decreases from the Bachelor’s to the Doctoral level, why only 3% of over 400 universities in India have female Vice Chancellors, and why women form only about 11% of the Indian Parliament.
Finally she says that women have healthier hearts and we outlive men by at least ten years- this made me laugh. I do not doubt the validity of this statement- we women could go through life without any heart related complications and outlive men by ten, maybe twenty years- this rosy picture however gets complicated by the fact that one woman is killed over dowry every hour in this country, and close to 900 women are raped, harassed and killed by men daily.
It’s so very easy for us who have the privileges of caste, class and wealth to dismiss a movement and an ideology like feminism, but if there’s anything I’ve learnt in the last few months, it’s that privilege tends to blind- so take those blinkers off and take a look around, Mrs. Funnybones. There’s a world beyond the bubble that you’re living in and it’s one where feminism is as relevant as ever.