Mira feels the ‘two sexes’ should not try to take the place of each other - but what does that mean?

Dear Mira Rajput a baby is not a puppy a feminist is not a dragon
Voices Feminism Saturday, March 11, 2017 - 18:09

A baby is not a puppy. A feminist is not...wait, that's a long list. 

According to Mira Rajput, Bollywood actor Shahid Kapoor's wife, the "new wave" of feminism is aggressive and destructive. She added that she feels the two sexes should live in harmony and that "if either one of them tries to take the place of the other, there will be chaos."

Because didn't you know, before the evil of feminism spread its tentacles across the world, there was harmony everywhere? It was feminism, after all, that called a husband lovingly correcting his wife with a slap the rude name "domestic violence", thereby rupturing the family.

Is this worth analysing? I'm afraid if one were to plunge into this, one would be indulging in what this writer calls 'you go, gurl vacuousness'. Apparently, feminists have killed feminism through a "consumerist interpretation of women's rights" - meaning, we outrage about a Mira Rajput's statements and not so much about the "actually important things" like the gender pay gap.

Read: Congratulations ladies, it’ll take you just 170 more years to get pay parity

As if outrage comes in limited quantities and we're in danger of running out of it. Or that if you speak about one issue, it automatically means you don’t care about the other.

Or that it's necessary to stack these issues in an order of importance so we can speak about each only according to the rank that it holds.

Who decides what this order should be when the group "women" is such a hugely heterogeneous one? And the issues that affect each and matter the most are likely to change according to the person's many identities and privileges?

Moreover, when women form a heterogeneous group, it's only logical that feminists too (who're largely women) are heterogeneous. There are many issues on which feminists differ: legalising sex work, standpoint on pornography, the hijab debate...to name a few.

What unifies feminists is the understanding that patriarchy oppresses all genders in different ways and that women, especially, have borne the brunt of this.

In this fight for equality, there is no sense in cherry picking issues. And importantly, it's not as if views like Mira Rajput's which are shared by many - including those in decision-making positions - don't ultimately influence the "actually important things" like the gender pay gap.

Especially since they are consistently aired.

One doesn't quite know what Mira means by "new wave" - whether it refers to a time period or a change in feminist philosophy - so we'll leave that aside. But what's with the angst about one ‘sex’ taking the place of another?

Clearly, we're not yet in a world where (cis) men give birth to puppies...oops, babies...so Mira's statement doesn't refer to people's biological capabilities.

Does she then mean that men and women should stick to doing what men and women are meant to do? What exactly would that entail? Pushing people into binarian pink or blue boxes, nurturer or provider roles?

Read: This Women’s Day, break the gender binary just a little bit more

It would seem so, as she also went on to speak about how proud she was to be a homemaker, hinting that this was not a choice feminists would respect (wrong).

According to Mira, her child is not a puppy, so she doesn't think she can play with her for an hour and head off to work. Well, fantastic for you, Mira, that you can afford to sit on your pile of privilege and spend all the time that you want with your child.

What's not cool at all is how judgmental you sound towards other women who haven't made the same choice as you - either because their financial situation doesn't permit them to and/or because they want different things from life.

Forget about acknowledging all that feminists around the world have done to fight for reproductive rights, better maternal health care, and maternity benefits. Don't you think that if you're hitting out at "feminists" for not respecting your choice, you should make your point without disrespecting the choices made by other women?

Though you magnanimously said that it's someone else's choice if they want to be a "working woman" and that they shouldn't be shamed for it, it's quite disheartening how you see them as mothers.

A view that's sadly shared by the majority of the population which continues to place the onus of childcare entirely on the mother, making it difficult for a woman to build her career once she's had a baby.

Unsurprisingly, Mira, like many others before her, also shared views which are in accordance to feminist philosophy - like her take on body image and the pressures that young mothers are subjected to. This is typical of many who have benefited from feminism and the women's movement but are dismissive about the struggle itself which gave them these results.

It does seem too much to do a line by line analysis of what Mira Rajput said but it is frustrating when people who are given a platform air their ignorance with such confidence about an ideology that is already demonised in the public imagination.

Not just aggression, ignorance too can be destructive.

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