Thursday, 12 February 2015

What Racism Taught Me About Feminism

Get, set, rant!

United States of America has witnessed several cases with high media attention where black men were killed or harassed by policemen out of proportion of their crimes. For a white man, he might have just walked free. An elderly Indian man who was visiting his son in the United States was left in a state of paralysis after police manhandled him. You can read about it here. A lot of incidents of racism lead people to protest with "#BlackLivesMatter". People who believed that these incidents are gathering too much attention retaliated with "#AllLivesMatter".

There is a reason why "#AllLivesMatter" in-spite of being a Utopian dream and true is wrong in this context. There exists structured racial discrimination against Blacks in USA. White kids were not gunned down for roaming around at night. I could go on and on, but it should suffice to say that when you deflate "BlackLivesMatter" to "AllLivesMatter" you are trying to take attention away from the problem of structural racism against Blacks. You have become a part of the problem. You are refusing to see your own privilege. AllLivesMatter is a denial of the injustices faced by a whole section of people simply because of their skin colour. Some people see BlackLivesMatter as a form of reverse racism. Just the way equal women's rights are seen as subjugation of men.

In all honesty, all lives are not equal. They have never been. We can only work towards making them all matter equally. Example joke: Bush: We are planning to kill 25 million Iraqis and a bicycle repairman.
Clinton: Why would you kill a bicycle repairman?
Bush: See! I told you nobody cares about 25 million Iraqis.

Here comes feminism, I am sure every feminist has been asked "don't you believe that men are equal. Then why are you fighting only for women's rights?". When #HeForShe was trending an acquaintance said "why #HeForShe" instead of "#HeForHimselfAndEveryoneElse". You have effectively denied all the problems that are perpetrated on women by men only because of their gender. You do not want to see your privileges because of being a male. It is also important to understand the concept of intersectionality of privileges and discrimination. As a girl born to 'educated open-minded parents' I am privileged compared to those girls who were killed at birth or those who were denied education by their parents because of gender. Because of my family's financial status I could afford to go to good schools and end up in a reputed college. This makes me more privileged than a hell lot of people, simply because my parents could afford to send me to a good school. Since I am not lesbian I don't have to face homophobia. I am privileged. Since I have lived in conflict free zones, my life has been stable compared to several others. I am not physically handicapped which makes me privileged in a wide variety of areas. BUT I am less privileged than a male born in absolutely same conditions. He can step out at night without the fear of being sexually assaulted by random romeos on the streets. Yes, mugging is there but that is not because of his gender. His education will never be questioned but there are people who raise questions about "Return of Investment" on women's education. Yes, I might get a few advantages here and there in companies looking to recruit women, but that will diminish exponentially as I age. And it's not me saying this but a lot of working women have complained of their equal work being undervalued compared to their male colleagues.

Feminism taught me that the problem of women's rights being questioned, their problems being undervalued is not specific to feminism. NO group wants to see its privileges and another group being discriminated in the same areas where they are privileged. All of us have a misconception that while removing discrimination we are giving up our rights. No, we are just giving up our privileges. And, no, that is NOT subjugation. During the suffrage movements, posters depicting how equal voting rights for women would lead to subjugation of men.

I have also learned that humans have very less empathy for each other. If drinking each others blood would give us a million gold coins, humans wouldn't refrain from doing that. Yes, I have no faith in homo sapiens. Yes, I have given up on humanity. Because people use it only when it suits them. But the only thing I can do is realize the discriminated groups and work for them.