Recently, Bollywood actress Sonam K Ahuja posted a tweet tagging the BAZAAR Arabia magazine:
“For me, female empowerment is very important, especially because I’m from a side of the world where women have always been second-class citizens.”
After the comment generated controversy, Kapoor responded, “I didn’t know the Hindu extremists way of celebrating women was trolling them. Hilarious. It makes our Indian leaders look really bad”.
Like many, I was also a feminist as a college student. But as time went by, I increasingly found feminism to be stunting and shallow and in contradiction to self-development.
After a long time of reflection, reading, and following political developments in India and the world, I finally denounced feminism - a movement I had vocally and staunchly supported all through-out college.
At this point, it is important to differentiate between the feminist movement and the principle of equal opportunity to men and women. Former is a movement, latter is an idea. The same idea can find a better vehicle in a different movement.
Here are some reasons why I’m not a feminist.
First, feminism is now a fashion brand and glamour is its currency
Feminists have caused immense damage to the credibility of the movement by allowing beauty and glamour to become a currency.
From national to international forums, actresses and models are preaching us about feminism. Fashion and beauty brands are telling us about feminism. Anouk, Dove and others corporations have jumped in - here, be an empowered woman, but first buy this shampoo for so your hair shinier than the next chick.
In a way, this has made the original promise of the feminist movement - that women are more than their looks - stand on its head.
If feminism is only there to sell clothes, lipsticks, make-up, jewellery and cigarettes to women, then we didn’t need feminism at all.
And frankly, most self-made Indian women, who are intelligent, ambitious, and actually achieved something with their own hard work, simply refuse to lower their standards so much as to accept “pretty people” as their leaders.
This problem is more serious than the technical questions of meritocracy in movement's organisation. The question about feminist movement’s leadership is also an existential one.
The people that we are supposed to circle around and support for making a “feminist statement”, are they invested in the movement? What are they in this game for?
And most importantly, is the celebritisation of the serious political matters worth it, or does it dilute the quality of debates? Won’t a provocateur leadership do more harm than good?
Second, the hypocrisy of show biz people preaching to common folk
Consider the MeToo movement. Most of the MeToo cases came out from the show business industries - be it media channels or the Bollywood.
Weren't many actresses telling us about 'my choice' and how we don't need a man except for his semen? Didn't we have a lot of them giving us lectures about what powerful women look like? Why, then, they have been silent on, what appears to be, pervasive sexual abuse in their industry?
And these are no small women, as we know. These are icons of woman empowerment. They attend national, international events as a model of a powerful woman.
Are we supposed to gloss over the fact that the likes of Oprah who give outstanding speeches on feminism remained best friends with Harvey Weinstein for a long time?
Gentlemen and women of AIB, Bollywood! didn't you boast superiority of your ‘open’ culture as a panacea for sexual abuse and women empowerment? According to you, it’s the conservative common man who is sexually deprived and therefore rapes. What happened to that theory?
On one hand, show business elites go around broadcasting ‘this part of the world’ treats women as second-class citizens, on the other hand, show business itself is a bastion of sexual exploitation. And when #MeToo breaks out, instead of introspecting and taking responsibility, these elites only up the ante against ‘this part of the world’.
When it's about empowered actresses, industry and its culture is to be praised, when it's about sexual assault in the industry, men in general are to be blamed.
What a public distribution of the responsibility of the individual crime!
Third, global elites, not common Indian women are the target audience of the feminist leadership
The scarier aspect of the leadership problem in the Indian feminist movement is that the Indians haven’t become dispensable by chance, but by design.
Look at the tweet of Sonam K Ahuja - “I’m from a side of the world where women have always been second-class citizens” - who is the intended audience?
“..our Indian leaders look really bad” - real bad to whom?
The underlying reality is that like all the Third World people aspiring to sit on the same table with the elites in the West, the Bollywood celebrities also have to play by the latter’s rules. And the ‘oppressed woman from the Third World speaking up’ image is great starter.
With this image, these women can be touted as a symbol of the ‘call of the Orient to the superior West to save it from itself’.
They become the living proof of why colonialism was right as a civilising mission, and why the intervention of the western world in the developing countries is justified.
This is not only a betrayal of the ideals of the decolonisation movements, but also a strategic mistake, because it throws into the dustbin a long, rich legacy of sincere and grounded Indian reformers and thinkers who successfully deployed an ancient civilisation’s cultural-social capital for women empowerment.
It is both sad and laughable, because unlike the Indian Left, which was forced to ally with the imperialists for survival after being repeatedly and thoroughly rejected by the Indians in elections, the feminist movement had no such compulsion.
Fourth, feminism’s blunder - leasing out intellectual hard-work to Marxists
Feminist of all kinds, and not just the socialist feminists, have leased out the intellectual hard work to the Left.
These has caused serious and needless problems.
For one, the imposition of class struggle framework on man-woman relationships results in inaccurate diagnosis.
The feminists have copied the Marxist obsession of seeing all history as binary - a victim, a perpetrator and the perpetual struggle between them, and the idea that all existing social structures are allied with the perpetrator in this struggle.
The grand and overarching construct of patriarchy is a product of this thinking. Everything is explicitly or implicitly and potentially patriarchal.
For feminists, patriarchy is the big monster that is lurking everywhere - be it traditional family, marriage or workplace - looking to destroy any chance a woman has of success.
The feminist movement has become a cult of this monster of patriarchy where there is no space for individual responsibility and original thinking.
For example, they claim that “Feminist” actresses failed to speak up against the pervasive sexual abuse in the industry because they are themselves victims of patriarchy.
A very famous self-proclaimed feminist was caught molesting women? Blame the monster of patriarchy that can make anyone do anything.
Relationship not working out? Don’t betray womenfolk by thinking a fight between you and your boyfriend is just between you two. It’a about hundreds of years of patriarchy and toxic masculinity.
Situating one’s mundane daily life in the grand design of the historical struggle between sexes may create a sense of self-importance and polish one’s ego, but it doesn’t solve problems, and it surely doesn’t allow one to grow.
Fifth, Group think and anti-science attitude
As a cult of the monster of ‘patriarchy’, feminist movement works by fear-mongering and inculcates a sense of perpetual victimhood. Like a cult, it targets the weak, vulnerable and the gullible.
Substantiation, facts, rigorous debate is simply not required because feminists know for a fact that an omnipotent monster of patriarchy exists, and women cannot divert a drop of energy or time away from the urgent fight against this monster.
And the struggle against patriarchy must be perpetual and total - like a ghost, patriarchy can be anywhere.
Also, like a ghost, it is hard to kill, mainly because it doesn’t exist.
Such is the sense of urgency, anxiety and fear among the women indoctrinated into this cult that any woman who disagrees automatically becomes a traitor.
Feminists have become so obsessed with overarching oppression-struggle theory that they shun any objectivity. They make no efforts to engage with the disciplines of psychology or biology, because a finding contrary to the narrative is simply not acceptable.
Feminism has reduced itself into being cheaper version of the Left, and the women into being a cheaper version of men.
In reducing women’s issues to Marxist doctrines of material redistribution and opposition to meritocracy, womanhood itself is downgraded and stunted.
I find it very interesting that all these feminists who oppose meritocracy and hierarchy in all forms because it is nothing but a reflection of privilege, espouse extremely hierarchical and meritocratic criteria in their personal lives.
When questioned, the response is similar to that of the socialists - we individually cannot be as kind on our own to share our wealth equally with our neighbours, so we need to bring a totalitarian government to make us do it by force.
Daddy at home is patriarchal, but let’s bring the Big Daddy - the state - to rule our personal lives.
Sixth, feminism makes women predictable, replaceable and miserable
When its dogmatic doctrines fail, the feminist movement’s response is not a course correction, but to become more dogmatic.
For a long time, the feminist movement has been propagating free sex culture as the solution. Women ran from the patriarchal institutions of society, family and marriage into the arms of the lovers (a common Bollywood story line).
It didn’t quite work, and now we have the narrative of ‘toxic masculinity’ - men being inherently oppressive - as the source of the problem. So the next step is to attack masculinity - erasing traditional masculine traits because they are linked to aggression, and misogyny.
There is no real debate because the solutions to all problems of feminism is more feminism.
Feminism is infantilising women and promoting and glorifying dysfunction and counterproductive behaviours.
Feminists argue that increasing divorces reflect women empowerment, single motherhood is cool and progressive, and so are the unconventional relationships.
But what is the reality? what does the data suggest? We can look at the studies carried out around the world.
Isn’t single motherhood financially and practically very hard? And not due to ‘patriarchy’ but the simple biological fact of prolonged dependence of human offspring on parents.
Why does all the glorification of unconventional relationships only happen in the backdrop of a rich and privileged lifestyle?
The truth is celebrities can use money to somewhat cushion the losses due to their immaturity, impulsiveness, hedonism, and chaos, while with the same ideals, a poor person will perish.
And how are children affected by all of this?
Children who grow up with only one of their biological parents are significantly more disadvantaged across a broad array of outcomes. The children of single parents have a 77 percent greater risk of being harmed by physical abuse than children living with both parents.
As compared to a child living in an intact family - traditional family with married parents, a child in a house with non-married biological parents is 20 times more likely to be abused.
A child in a house where biological mother is living with a man who is not the child’s father is a shocking 33 times more likely to suffer abuse.
Alas, given the trajectory that the feminist movement is on, soon, only the following will remain to call themselves a feminist: the women trying to sell beauty-products to insecure women, men trying to sell free-sex culture to gullible women, and gullible women themselves.