I live in a country where I am allowed to flash my skin as much as I want yet not be able to pass my nationality to my child if I did belong to this country, if I were Lebanese. I find myself in a condition where women rights have been forgotten in the heroism of the modernity portrayed under the labels of my ability to flash my skin and such, where my freedom to be able to go to a bar and ask for a drink has undermined my rights to walk alone safely without being harassed uncountable times. And considering that I am a brown Indian woman, I get to go through the ugliest forms of sexual harassment considering that people find me synonymous to being their maid.
Woman rights movements have become synonymous to ugly flash-mobs like the one that took place in Beirut Souqs on 14th February this year, where I found women dressed in matching pink shirts flashing their bellies for the dance, which was followed by the creepy-men-next-door coming all over the place and touching women all over the place as they happily hopped around taking pictures with these pink-clad women on their little cell-phones. So indeed what was being fought itself was endorsed at the end of this movement, this ugly form of elite-feminist endorsing objectification of women. It is here I want to critique, that materialism has in a way over-shadowed the true sense of feminist-rhetoric. And it is here we find the truest feminists turning away from activism, since their activism is being painted over by this mediocracy of these elite-feminist movements, considering the high value of the pink-flashy women in comparison with a group of women doing a sit-in next to the parliament. The darwinism of capitalism has brought us to this stage sadly!
India just recently passed a law where they refrained from criminalizing domestic violence under the pretext under the pretext that it would weaken the traditional institution of marriage. And guess what, why do we not use the same pretext to ban the eating of burgers since it is against the “traditional institution of Indian cuisine”? The argument here is as lame as that. But hidden agendas of oppression are always covered with lame excuses. What we forget is that our law-makers are majority men, and it is never in their incentive to legislate power and equality to the other gender. It is simply put, a game of ugly power. I have found the academia to be continuously criticizing the role of Hinduism or Islam in this process of “backwardness”. But they forget to see that it is indeed the opposite, that religion has become a victim, a tool through which excuses of power inequality are justified, putting religion itself to shame. Now this is the ugly truth to labeling-theory, where we all attempt to find the first label to accuse, and here, yes here, religion has always been a dirty victim.
I find myself always justifying this, that in Hinduism we worship both, gods and goddesses together, as a unity of them, and that in the very birth of Islam, there lied a revolutionary idea of prescribing rights to women, even if they were indeed lower to men at that time. But in the time preceding Islam, women had no prescribed rights at all and men could marry as many women as they wished (which was limited to four by the prescription of Islam). This justification I do not do with any biases since I am an atheist and I have no such religious incentive to justify, but I find my religious friends always succumbing to being victim to such debates that portray religion to be the root of gender inequality.
It is here on this note that I want to conclude. That what we need today is not lame academic papers that point out to certain labels as being the cause of the failure of women rights movements, but a serious long-term agenda building that does not get victimized by other ongoing debates on “identity-questions”, as much as I disgust that term!