Do you like drinking tea? Which one? Black? Green? Oolong? Herbal? Chamomile?
I’ll tell you about a (Twitter) user-favourite: the formidable An-Tea-Feminist.
It is a strong concoction that can get straight to your head; lull you into a warm, wallowing sense of misdirected self-pity; fuel you with self-righteous indignation; render you incapable of rational thought; and is served best with tart, slightly overcooked hashtags on murky Twitter timelines. Chaunk gaye kya?
But hey, you’ve sampled it! All of us have.
Just the other day, as the video of a woman repeatedly thrashing a man – reported to be a cab driver – at Lucknow’s Awadh Chowk started doing the rounds of the internet, a seemingly self-assured Twitter user shared a photograph of a banner with the following text painted on it: ‘Feminism is Cancer’.
In case, the message was lost on anyone, the photo was captioned thus: “Writing is on the wall...If misogyny is bad then so is feminism which keeps criticizing men. (sic)”
Many others appeared to be in agreement, as they lambasted feminism and shared pictures of women winning medals in Tokyo as examples of “real feminism” and “real women empowerment”.
This is the new India that this third wave of feminism brings to you. A woman can abuse, threaten, assault & if this video weren't there, she could have said that the man molested her & this was her self defence.
Important to #ArrestLucknowGirl & set precedent. pic.twitter.com/IHFrl35uxR
— Amit Lakhani (@TheAmitLakhani) August 2, 2021
Suddenly, the quest for equal rights, for dignity of all sexes, for equitable opportunity, went flying out of the window – faster than PV Sindhu’s shuttlecock across a net, I daresay.
All it Takes...
Somehow, all it takes, is for one woman somewhere to do something unacceptable, and the otherwise #NotAllMen brigade will come raining down on feminism with an intensity that can give the Delhi monsoon a run for its money. Some questions, however, ought to be asked:
Did feminist groups leap to the defence of the woman seen hitting the man?
An FIR has been registered against the woman in question. Are civil society members – least of all feminists – obstructing the police probe or protesting the same?
Does the woman’s Aadhaar card have the word “FEMINIST” printed on it? Did her face?
A woman hits a man driving a cab for reasons best known to her. The man files a police complaint. A probe is launched and a case is registered. But why, in all this, is the entire feminist movement – that spans decades and generations of inexplicable strife – shot down?
Feminism, an Unwelcome Antidote
Perhaps, it is owing to the fact that feminism is an unwelcome antidote to the intoxication of piping hot Pa-tea-riarchy.
Disparagers of feminism hawk women like a fox stalking its prey, awaiting the slightest slip and opportunity to pounce. When one woman errs, all others are court-martialled; everything they fight for, espouse, defend, reduced to rubble.
There is a ceaseless campaign to render feminism fallible, because emancipation of women is often confused with emasculation of men – a notion as faulty and confusing as an Olympic medal with women empowerment (especially in a country where so many women in sports are left scrounging to no avail for encouragement, resources, and recognition).
Besides, do we accept our women only when they bring us some glory? In all other cases, are we diminished by their freedom to exist on their own terms?
Needless to say for every hashtag on Lucknow Girl, there are 10 Gurgaon Boys and Hyderabad Heroes and Mumbai Maharajas: men from across the country who unleash painful, inexplicable violence with seeming impunity and gusto. But, whataboutery won’t help here.
What Will Help...
What will help, however, is: to analyse the nature of violence; to question if there was an element of ‘class’ or any other indication of prejudice in this woman's act; to await the outcome in this case; and to attempt to understand that feminism is bigger than and distinct from one woman, one act, one evening in Lucknow.
Feminism is not unimpeachable. No evolving movement is. But the fact that on the evening of 30 July, a woman in Lucknow decided to start hitting a man driving a cab in the middle of a busy road has little to do with it.
And for the (still) uninitiated, let me heave a meaningful sigh and spill the last dregs of my kadak-chai: Feminism, per se, does not teach women to cross a road, stop in front of a cab, and start slapping the driver.
. Read more on Opinion by The Quint.Lucknow Girl Beat Cab Driver, But Do You Really Need to Diss Feminism?'Allegations Serious if Reports Correct': SC Posts Pegasus Pleas to 10 August . Read more on Opinion by The Quint.