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Anubha Yadav - The f word

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The f word

Posted on 03 Oct 2012 in ATM- All Time Musings, Dudette Says, Gender, Opinion/Current Affairs, Private Diary of a feminist., slutwalk, Taslima Nasreen, Women | 0 comments

A friend of mine who was doing the matrimonial rounds told me some wonderful stories. Unfortunately, the stories settled with her matrimonial ‘settling’. She said,’When nothing else worked on an ill-suited suitor, who was pursuing her despite her dis-interest, then finally, she use to fire the Ram baan, i.e ‘ I am a feminist’. ‘I am a feminist always works,’ she laughed, ‘it’s much like showing the middle finger to end dialogue.’ There are many other comical stories, for example, it is quite common for urban young men to ask you,’ So have you burnt bras ?’ A strange mythical titillation rests around this question, as they wait for an answer. Or someone once asked me, in a dinner party, ‘Are feminists supposed to be on a diet?’ Yes, it was a serious, straight face query.

Recently, a student, who is working on a documentary project, came with a set of ideas for approval. As we started brain storming the ideas, she pointedly told me, ‘ But ma’am, I’m very clear, I do not wish to make a feminist film.’ It took me a while to settle again into the discussion, because it was not just said, it was said to me, with a purpose. It felt like I was running a picket ‘madarsa’ in my classes, to indoctrinate young innocent women into feminism, and spoil them for the world forever. It seemed anything that brushed past me became infected with the ‘f’ bug, unless the person is careful. And the student obviously was just doing the- ‘being careful’ part. Obviously we both felt persecuted in our own ways. And this persecution is a very common discomfort many women feel in their homes, jobs, when they go for parties, dinners or in other public spaces- once they declare they belong to the ‘f’ club.

Many men and women, girls and boys suffer with mortal fear of this word. I know some who feel framed by it, and so avoid it, as the word feminism has very limited and negative interpretations in popular culture. Frankly, I think, there is a good chance that a person on the road might know aliens more particularly, and would perhaps be able to explain the complexity of the alien phenomena, alien history, and other narratives around it more exactly. Feminists indeed remain more alien than aliens, in the real world; we have become/are this scary creed one shouldn’t associate with if one is ‘normal’.

Much like mathematics, or rocket science- feminism needs to be taught, learnt in schools- the philosophy and its various complexities need careful explaining and serious discussion. I wonder if moral value question in CBSE can be replaced with a question gender sensitivity? I am sure it will be of more moral value to India.

I am damned if another generation of boys and girls shroud and shy from being feminists, and from defining¬† it for themselves, in the way they want to, after knowing the foundations of its philosophy. I am damned if another 17- year old boy asks another 17 -year old girl on a date- ‘So, are you the bra burning types?’ And I am damned if that girl hides her political position because she wants acceptance from this patriarchal world, which perceives and perseveres quite hard to frame feminists as dogmatic, ruthless, bra burning, loud women- who hate cooking, and love shouting slogans needlessly.
I am damned for they are so not right.

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