Sunday, February 17, 2013

YES I DARE TO CALL MYSELF A FEMINIST

In the wake of the recent rape case in Delhi we witnessed a whole nation clamoring for women's safety. And while it was heartening to see women's issues brought to the foreground it was dismaying, to many feminists, including myself, that women's fundamental right to being was being promulgated as a legal expedience. Safety was only the tip of the iceberg, the gratuitous patriarchal propensities had to be destabilized. At this juncture, seeing intersecting subjectivities, imprudent political stereotyping and pervasive moral self righteousness calling oneself a feminist became both an ideological paradigm and a practical expediency.

It is customary, in contemporary discourse, to impugn feminism or adopt a condescending attitude towards it. At a time when discourse itself has become self reflexively redundant adherence or fealty to ideology is seen as dereliction or antiquated idealism. Feminism, unlike other isms, continues to proliferate because its urgencies are currently polemical, its ubiquity inescapable and the barricades it encounters redouble its ideological existence. Women across class, caste, race continue to be oppressed and feminism as lived, existential experience is an inevitable accompaniment to the exiguity of a majority of women's lives. As a literary theory its persistently contingent, protean, flexible reconstitution into more radical forms renders its growth unavoidable.

Brought up on a diet of Irigaray, Beauvoir, Judith Butler, Faludi my belief in equality is both academic and pragmatic. Having witnessed patriarchy at home reinforces and perhaps seeing strong women in my family fight and survive augments my feminist proclivities. Feminism is not an anachronism, outdated. There are insalubrious manifestations of feminism yet these peripheral incongruities reinscribe discursive feminist spaces and reaffirm its ideological necessity because within interstices of repression strong beliefs are adumbrated. which though putatively extremist demonstrate the degree of women's oppression. No iconoclasm arises out of a vacuum.

Radical feminism is bandied about as an opprobrious term. And i am confessedly a card carrying feminist though retroactive and immediate introspection is necessary. While everyone in india recently jumped into the ideological bandwagon, a mass hysteria was demonstrated wherein feminism and its goals were the last consideration. Had not the feminists foreclosed this mob psychology with quotidian reminders of women's inalienable rights a completely wrong message would have been communicated. Ideology as the marxist critics asseverated is a way of life. Women's equality is neither a nebulous theoretical obloquy nor a fancy movement. Harsh, gritty realities are being  addressed, mindsets are being contested and a whole admissible patriarchal superstructure has and continues to be shaken. As women's movements send forth fusillades of justifiable reproaches they are being further pushed back and each retreat brings forth renewed advancement. Feminism continues and will continue to be relevant and meaningful till inequality's obliteration , however indeterminate or idealistic, will be dispelled  and rendered nugatory. Till then yes i dare to call myself a feminist.