Illustration by Sara Haas. Sourced from: https://femmagazine.com/about/
Friends! Namaste! Assalam Walekum! Satsriakal! And Hello! First of all we are meeting in a New Year so there is no harm in praying for better days in this New Year. We will all soon come to know how this year will be for our country. All that I wish to say is that our struggles must become stronger, our unity and solidarity must become more solid and we must keep working to protect our Constitution. Friends, I am happy for being invited to Pune because Pune is well known for its activism and activism of all kinds. I often say to friends that activism has ended in Delhi. In order to feel the true essence of activism one must come to Pune, go to Bhopal. The presence of such a huge number of people here is worth-mentioning. In Delhi whatever one organizes we will never witness such a huge gathering. Therefore what I request you is to give a huge round of applause for yourselves from my side.
I arrived in Pune this morning at 10:00. Swapnil came to receive me and from 10:00 a.m. onwards I have been learning about Abhibyakti, Lokayaat and other organizations and I am feeling very inspired. I am now almost seventy years old but a renewed energy is penetrating me and encouraging me to organize a similar group Delhi. There is no other way of living in India/ Hindustan. If we remain silent we will perish, we all know this well. We must unite ourselves to attain the maximum level of unity.
The second reason for which I am here today is for paying tribute to Savitri Bai Phule and to salute her for her spirit, her work, her achievements. Those of us who are present here are standing on the shoulders of people like Savitri Bai Phule and Jyotiba Phule. She worked on education. First she educated herself and then educated others and what was that education all about? Education can be of various types. Nowadays schools and factories are synonymous and what are these schools teaching? What I feel personally is all the flaws present in this world be it corruption, pollution, dowry, killing of girl children and various other sins are committed more by so called educated people. The education that they talked about and imparted is education that liberates us from harmful traditions and practices, which make us analyse and challenge injustice. To pay my tribute to Jyoti Ba and Savitri Bai Phule I wish to recite a poem that I wrote what education should be for girls and women. Here is the English translation of the original Hindi poem.
A father asks his daughter:
Study? Why should you study?
I have sons aplenty who can study.
Girl, why should you study?
For my dreams to take flight, I must study
Knowledge brings new light, so I must study
For the battles I must fight, I must study
Because I am a girl, I must study.
To fight men’s violence, I must study
To end my silence, I must study
To challenge patriarchy I must study
To demolish all hierarchy, I must study.
Because I am a girl, I must study.
To mould a faith I can trust, I must study
To make laws that are just, I must study
To sweep centuries of dust, I must study
To challenge what I must, I must study
Because I am a girl, I must study.
To know right from wrong, I must study.
To find a voice that is strong, I must study
To write feminist songs I must study
To make a world where girls belong, I must study.
Because I am a girl, I must study.
I would like to share three slogans I wrote on literacy for women. We also made posters on these. Literacy means the three Rs- Reading, Writing and Arithmetic. I interpreted the three Rs in the following way
I am learning how to read so that I can read the World.
I am learning how to write so that I can write my own destiny.
I am learning how to count so that I can take account of my rights also.
Friends, I have been asked to speak on Patriarchy and its roots. How deep and wide are the roots in society, how deep are they still in us. Even after 40 years of feminist activism, I often feel the presence of latent patriarchy in my mind. Patriarchy is present in our language, vocabulary. Friends I wish to make about fifteen points about patriarchy. Patriarchy, pitrisatta, in Urdu pidarshahi, pitritantra in Bengali, are all old and outdated words. In anthropology this word was used to describe large families headed by men or patriarchs. Today its meaning has undergone a change. Today it is no more pitritantra or rule of father; it is purushtantra, rule of men or male-domination. It is not just the father; today any man can exhibit his power and practise patriarchy. Five boys travelling in a bus can practise it or a man in a lift in Goa can practise it. So pitritantra actually means purushtantra now.
Patriarchy is a social system like casteism, racism, a deadly oppressive social system. Like all other social systems, patriarchy has two parts. It has a structure which is visible. In most countries most of the parliamentarians are male, most of the corporate leaders are male, 99 percent religious leaders are male, men are heads of households, and they control property. This is the structure. In human beings just having a structure is not enough. We need an ideology to control the minds of people, to justify the structure and to make it acceptable. Patriarchal ideology is disseminated all the time in different ways. Advertisements and songs like Tumhi meray mandir/ Tumhi meri puja/ Tumhi devta ho. You keep on playing this song throughout the day. Repeat it till it gets ingrained in our minds and it defines the status and position of a man and a woman. Ideology, like the air, is invisible but we inhale it all the time and get accustomed to it.
In my introduction it was mentioned that I have written some books on subjects like patriarchy, gender, masculinity. Actually those are not books, they are booklets. I am also not a feminist but feministlet (a small feminist). That series of booklets is called Gender Basics. Since books written in simple and lucid language are not available, my booklets have become popular and they have been translated into twenty five to thirty Asian languages mainly by women’s organisations and NGOs. Some of them took our permission to translate and publish, some did not. It is totally fine by me when my books and songs and posters are used by people in the way they deem fit. Friends, my definition of copyright is- right to copy. I do not believe in this capitalist notion of intellectual property right. I also do not believe that our ideas can be completely original and can be patented. Have feminist writers not read and been inspired by Savitribhai Phule, Mira Bai, Rabia of Basra? It is only when we draw inspiration from all these stalwarts that we form our ideas. We do not live in an intellectual vacuum. Therefore what I have written in my booklets is based on my understanding created by many writers and activists.
Coming back to patriarchy, it is a social system and all of us, men AND women have been socialised in to patriarchal thinking, attitudes and behaviour. Therefore, our patriarchal fathers and husbands and brothers are not evil people. They themselves are created by patriarchy and they are entangled in it. In this social system men by definition are regarded as superior to women. We may ask why men are superior. The answer is, because they say so. No reason. Might is right. In the caste system it is said that Brahmins are superior. Who says so and why? Well, Brahmins say so. Why are Brahmins superior? Because they are born from Brahma’s head, we are told. Has anyone of you seen anybody being born from anyone’s head? Friends, I have always seen everyone being born through one and only channel and the males do not even possess it. The Pope, the Sankaracharya, and every other holy one have come out of the Yoni of women. After coming out they declare women to be inferior, way to hell etc. This alone should convince us that systems like patriarchy, caste, and race are nothing but andhvishwas or superstition. This is why they have been outlawed by our Constitution.
The full definition of patriarchy is, it is a social system, in which men are considered to be superior and men have more control over resources, decision making and ideology. Thus, men have all the power and most of all they have the power to define what is right, what is wrong, who is right, who is wrong. They create religious, social, economic, political ideology.
Unfortunately, not just men but women also believe in, follow and perpetuate patriarchy. In fact women are assigned the task of injecting patriarchal thinking in the minds and bodies of children. Therefore, we women build with our own hands a society that is hostile to women. According to statistics every year about fifty thousand girl children are killed. Who kills them? Mainly well off, educated families, with the help of well off, educated medical technicians and doctors commit this genocide or gynocide, the killing of the woman. How many a time has this issue been raised and discussed in the Parliament, how many times the people of India have risen against this genocide, stopped traffic? I have not yet received any information about any such outrage. Political leaders and parties, trade unions, commercial establishments do not express any outrage against this mass killing. It is left to feminists to study this and protest against it.
Friends, every aspect of women’s lives are controlled by patriarchy. Women’s productive power is controlled by men or by patriarchal families. Others decide whether and what girls will study, if and what job they will take up, what they will be paid for their work, who and how their income will be controlled. Women continue to be in the least skilled and least paid jobs. They are the last to be hired and first to be fired.
Women’s reproductive power is controlled by others in patriarchy. At what age and to whom women will get married, when will they have their first pregnancy, how many children they will have etc. is often not decided by women. Others decide if and which contraceptives women will use. It is men dominated Parliaments of India and China who determine whether we will have one child or two. Nature has bestowed upon women the reproductive power but many women have no control on her own reproductive power.
Women’s sexuality may also be controlled by others. As far as our own women and daughters are concerned, we cover them up, control their mobility; many marry them at 13-14 and control their sexuality in many other ways. However, in patriarchy men also want women’s bodies on sale, so there is sex work, pornography, item numbers in films, advertisements with half clad women, half clad women jumping up and down as cheer women in cricket matches.
Women’s mobility is controlled in patriarchy. There are limited places “good” women are allowed to go to. A five year old boy is told to accompany a 20 year old sister to provide her security, or to be a spy. Patriarchy exerts its power on each and every aspect of women’s lives.
In patriarchy men control all societal institutions.
Families are controlled by men. In most families men are the heads of households, they inherit the name and property of the family. There is celebration at the birth of boys. Birth of girls is considered a disaster in many families and different ways have been found to get rid of unwanted girls. Family is the school where patriarchal norms, attitudes and behaviour is taught to children. Here, the lessons of Patriarchy are injected audio-visually throughout the day. On learns visually, by looking at the way people behave; and one learns by hearing how men and women talk to each other, what language they use etc. If you fail to learn and behave in patriarchal ways, then you might be punished and taught the hard way.
A particular religion is thrust upon us as soon as we are born. We human beings have no say in it. All present day religions all over the world are patriarchal by nature. They have been created by men and they are interpreted and controlled by men. All religions consider men to be superior, if not in theory then definitely in practice. God is called He in most cultures. As a feminist has said, if God is He, then He is God. Religions justify and perpetuate patriarchy. Since religion is all about faith and belief most people find it difficult to challenge religions. I believe, it is not possible to get rid of patriarchy without challenging religions.
Educational institutions have also been largely patriarchal. Education was under the grips of religion and women were strictly debarred from educational institutions. I read recently that in Harvard University women students were admitted 230 odd years after men students. Oxford and Cambridge Universities took even longer to open their doors to women. I have heard that in Hinduism women and sudras were not allowed even to listen to the Vedas. Those in power knew that if women and sudras got educated patriarchy and caste system would crumble. So they had to be kept uneducated and subordinated. Education has been dominated by men and it has also played an important role in perpetuating the power and hegemony of men.
As earlier social norms and laws were created by religions, legal institutions and laws have been influenced by religions, hence they are also patriarchal. Men have made laws, interpreted them and have controlled the justice system.
Media have also been patriarchal and most of them perpetuate patriarchal thinking and mindset. There are some films, songs, TV programs like Satyame Jayate which challenge inequality and injustice, but most media continue to perpetuate patriarchal mindsets 24×7. Unfortunately their power is tremendous.
Similarly, economic institutions, political institutions, state organizations– bureaucracy, police, army, are all patriarchal.
Sadly, most of the NGOs are also patriarchal.
Had patriarchy been confined to the family we could perhaps have got rid of it by now . In families like that of Savitribhai and Jyotiba Phule they established equality, but it was not easy to change all the other institutions outside the family. Women have no place where they feel equal and safe. Patriarchy is a tightly-knit net and we encounter it in every institution and in all countries. No country has fully abolished patriarchy in reality although most of them have outlawed it through their constitutions.
My next point is that in Patriarchy violence against women is not an accident. Violence against women and girls is structural in patriarchy; it is systemic, part of the system. Patriarchy cannot function without violence just as caste system caste, class and race systems cannot function without violence. To impose an unjust system on people you need violence or the threat of violence. For example, I have never been raped, but I have never been without the fear of rape. This fear keeps people subjugated.
According to the United Nations, one out of every three women experiences violence in the world. There are seven billion people all over the world and three and a half billion are women and girls. If one out of three is subjected to violence, one billion women and girls across the world are subjected to violence; one hundred crore women. This is the biggest war in the world and the saddest part of this story is that this war takes place more fiercely within the families. Our own families inflict violence of all kinds on us. war against us, there is no need of enemies; it is our own men who torture us.
दुश्मनों की ज़रुरत किसे, ज़ुल्म अपनों ने हम पे किये
कौन कहता है जन्नत इसे, हमसे पूछो जो इसमें फंसे
Who needs enemies when our own families oppress us?
Who calls families heaven, ask us who suffer in them.
Ask a woman who has been tied up rigidly within the boundaries of her family. The Indian Government says that in Hindustan 40% patiparameshwars beat their wives but the International Centre for Research on Women says that it is not 40% but 50%-60% patiparameshwars beat their wives, which means in the eyes of the judicial system and not in my eyes, our dharmpatis are criminals 35%-40% is the global figure. So it is not only we are suffering from the malady of patriarchy but people all over the world are suffering from its ill effects. My next point is, the most dreadful of all is the religion that we follow. In the ancient religions where women used to be worshipped, where nature used to be worshipped I am talking of those religions. Those religions were not patriarchal in nature. But the modern religions which is only four thousand or five thousand years old are all patriarchal—Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Christianity—everyone of them. None of these religions are prepared to accept a woman as their leader. A woman can become neither Pope nor Shankaracharya nor Dalai Lama. So how is the God who begets 50% inferior children? One cannot even secure second division by scoring 50%. How can one follow that religion who regards half of the world as inferior? In every religion the portrait of the God that is available, the very language of religion is masculine in gender. God is He. If God is He, He is God. If God is male, male is God; it is religion that has made this. Since it is very challenging to challenge, question and stop religion, we get afraid of religion and conform to it and silently fast on the occasion of karvachaut. We keep mum and ask our brothers to perform the last rites of our parents who knows if their spectres frighten us or if they do not go to swarg if at all swarg exists. We ponder if we do not observe karvachaut our husbands may die. He died due to a car accident but fault is of his wife. By consuming alcohol if a man suffers from kidney failure the fault is of his woman. So we keep on observing karvachaut with a sense of satisfaction that if one’s husband expires we may get rid of all sorts of allegations. If all the husbands would have attained immortality due to the observance of karvachaut then population all over the world would have observed karvachaut. Fortunately it is followed only here, rest of the people eat, drink and lead their respective lives merrily. So Friends until and unless we are challenging the very institution called religion and there are many who have challenged. Most of our cultural traditions are patriarchal. We address our husbands as pati, in Bengali swami, in Oriya swami, in Urdu shohar, khamind, in English husband. It is this very word from where animal husbandry is derived. Husband means controller, domesticator. In none of these words there is equivalence. If from early in the morning one utters the word pati several times, that he is our malik, logically in this binary the person on the other end is gulam. My Constitution says that I cannot have a malik but my words, customs, rituals approve it. I am a Hindu girl and I am in love with a Hindu boy who studies in university, we walk together holding one another’s hands, sometimes it is he who rides the motorcycle and sometimes it is me. We have thought of getting married. If parents are to be kept happy then we should get married following Hindu tradition. The moment saatphere is complete I thrust myself upon his feet. The equality that we enjoyed till yesterday evaporated within a second. The moment I touch his feet he fill my maang with sindur — This property is not for sale anymore. She has been sold and none should dare to even glance at her. And one is adorned in such a way that from a distance everyone comes to know that this property is not for sale. The gentleman bears no emblem of marriage at all—no mangalsutra, no sindur — these are not his cup of tea. He is the same as he was yesterday. Our name gets changed. If I was Bhasin yesterday I became Malik today. If I was Malik yesterday I became Bhasin today. A postgraduate student is subjected to Kanyadaan. How many people present here have not witnessed or have not performed Kanyadaan? All of us perform this because all of us are scared of this because we cannot change it. I swear I have changed few things and nothing harmful has happened to me. If one of our kinsmen criticizes us then nine of them will agree that even they were thinking of doing so. During the last rites of my mother, we sisters also went there. Panditji prohibited us from performing the last rites and I asked him to get away. The Panditji feeling awkward said, “No Madam. This is not an issue at all. You carry on with your job.” All that he wants is Rs.500 and you can make him do anything you want. The only religion they follow is money and he went away silently. My mother may not have gone to heaven for various reasons but I do not believe that performance of funeral rites may pose as a reason behind this. It is her blood that composes and completes me. It is in my house where she used to stay and from where her arthi was taken. My brother was out of station and my cousin brother came to my place and advised that arthi cannot be taken from one’s daughter’s home and his maternal aunt’s body might be taken to his home and her arthi should be taken from there. I told him that since three years she was residing in my home and asked him why he did not come at that time and her to his place. I asserted that I was capable enough to look after her. My community follows that if one drinks a glass of water in one’s daughter’s in-laws’ house one gets eternally damned. She stayed in my place for three years and I was not her first choice. She used to stay at Delhi in my brother’s home. I advised her to stay at my home for I was foresighted enough to know what would happen. Within fifteen days I received a call from my brother telling me that it is not working out. On the sixteenth day I received a call from my mother telling me the same. I asked her to come to my place. So she came to my place, stayed there and expired there. Truly speaking, while the performance of her last rites we faced no problem. I carried her arthi on my own shoulders. One or two persons restricted me but 90% applauded me. Why do we blame others? It is we ourselves who do these activities in the name of society, and what composes the society?—you and me constitutes the society. So Friends, I believe that a cultural revolution is of utmost importance today. Go on watching the government and the laws. Laws and Bills can neither transform nor bring changes but new vibrant minds can prove to be effective. We need new “dils” and not new “bills”. Patriarchy shares proximity with caste, class and race and all types of religious communities. Caste system cannot work without Patriarchy. If caste system is to be kept alive and active women are to be subjugated. So our struggle is not just against Patriarchy but simultaneously against Brahminism, Racism. In today’s world our greatest enemy is Capitalist Patriarchy. Often I feel that had our enemy been just religion we could have eradicated it, gradually it could have been erased away but the emergence of this new religion of Capitalism, Globalization, Corporatization, Privatization. The titanic power that Capitalistic Patriarchy possesses is astonishing. Pornography is one billion dollar industry. Child pornography is a one billion dollar industry. Pornography turns a woman to a mere object and a man a devil. Today cosmetics on which you are fighting among yourselves is an one billion dollar industry. By applying Fair and Lovely South Asians want to turn fairer. First of all we must take proper measures against the sun only then we can grow fairer. Fair and Lovely has no role to play here. Males are also subjected to ullu banaoing and we are making ourselves fools. Fair and Handsome is nothing but ullu banaoing. If we have a look at the data we will come to know that they are now running a one billion dollar industry by making us ullus. Toys—Barbie dolls for girls and Guns for boys, Superman, Spiderman, Salman-– all are walking in the same direction. The most prominent figure of sports—IPL. Just have a look at the names of those teams—Delhi “Daredevils”, Kochi “Tuskers”. What is the suffix added to Pune?—Warriors. Alas! Look at your own faces Pune “Warriors”. All of them possess violent names. Rajasthan “Royals”, Punjab Kings (bloody) XI – What a non-sense? Not even an iota of democracy is present in our hearts, either Raja or Maharaja or violent name—Tuskers. Can you imagine a team calling itself “Tuskers”? How shameless they are! IPL has brought those fair ladies from their respective countries, clothed them in minimum attire just to make them dance at every six. And the other idiots are jumping like monkeys seeing the cheerleaders dancing. Where are we heading towards? In wrestling matches also minimally-attired ladies march before the players with flags in their hands. This is the Modern Culture. This is Modernity. Those of us who were born during the time of Partition never thought that after the introduction of education these would happen. We never thought that after the introduction of education these would happen. We never thought this would be called Enlightenment, this would be called Modern that the elite class would thrust this upon us. We used to think that when people would learn to read and write and television would make its entry in each and every household everything would be set right, Nationalism would be erased away, Patriarchy would hide himself, Racism would be demolished but Capitalism. Friends, this means that Patriarchy cannot be eradicated if this paradigm of Economy exists. We need to fight against this also. Within forty years my hairs turned white in identifying them against whom I must wage war. I cannot understand how much I have purified and how many I have harmed. Friends what comes next is from where did Patriarchy emerge and why. Few believe that this is natural, biological something created by God. Patriarchy claims that Adam was created first and from one of his spare ribs Eve was created. Can you imagine? Educated people who have read Science, on Sundays assert that Eve was created from Adam’s spare rib. It is believed that the very day Man was born Patriarchy took birth on that very day. The day human life will terminate Patriarchy will cease. What has been made by Nature will be transformed by Nature. There is no treatment for curing Patriarchy but observance of karvachaut, worshipping of patiparameshwar and hope that in the forthcoming birth you will be a man and he will take birth as a woman. But unfortunately the world does not believe in this. We the Feminists do not believe do not in this. We have learnt from everywhere, from Friedrich Engels, Karl Marx and I believe that previously in 95% of human existence Patriarchy was not present. Patriarchy has emerged three thousand to five thousand years ago. How old Patriarchy is can be determined by the evolution of Private Property. If we relate Private Property with Patriarchy we will agree that Patriarchy is a self-constructed malady and if it has been made by us, if we want, if we try, we can terminate it, we are not passive. Patriarchy is more dreadful because caste is also embedded in it. Presence of Patriarchy is mandatory in order to keep Casteism active. You will not come across such a malefic Patriarchy in rest of the world but in Mera Bharat Mahan. So our Constitution had intervened here and said that each and every individual must enjoy equality irrespective of Man or Woman, Brahmin or Sudra, Hindu or Musalman. This is a very powerful weapon we possess. If we regard it as our most sacred text, social text and everything which goes against this—kanyadan, karva chaut, funeral rites-– all these rituals are anti-constitutional. What happened in the last year is I received an invitation from Bangalore—“Kamla ji, a new law is being passed against blind faiths, against superstitions. You come here, deliver a lecture on the issue that Patriarchy is a superstition”. Nationalism, Patriarchy—these are all superstitions, they do not have any scientific basis. By referring them as superstitions let us perform their funeral rites—Om Swaha… This can be done in Pune but not in Delhi. So, you have to do this. Today what I advise the Hindustanis is if you cannot bestow equality on women, if you cannot pay respect to the Dalits then do one thing-– Change the Constitution. Prove yourself to be powerful enough to change the Constitution and amend it on the ground that Hindustan does not have enough guts to bestow equality on its citizens. Do not maintain and practise this double standard. On one side this social culture and on the other hand this powerful unputdownable Constitution. All of us are suffering from schizophrenia. Males are also suffering schizophrenia. Therefore either get rid off of schizophrenia or amend the Constitution, otherwise this is not going to work out. This is our biggest responsibility. One thing that we are trying to execute and going to discuss about it for one or two hours—we have always discussed how Patriarchy badly affects womenand girls. Fortunately I have started working on it since last twenty to twenty-five years. These issues have been dealt with in Pune as well as in Delhi. In Pune also Samyak, Anand, etc. are working on that how Patriarchy affects boys and men. I heard that Abhibyakti and Lokayat are also working on it. If I contemplate deeply and spiritually then Friends, I feel that the way Patriarchy is harming men spiritually, the case is not so with the women. I believe in this nowadays. Let me clarify myself. If Patriarchy stops women, it also stops men. Boys are not allowed to weep. If one’s mother expires he is restricted from weeping since he is a boy and boys are not supposed to weep. The poor fellow aged only four is scared of darkness. His father is compelling to go to a dark place but he is reluctant to go and in turn his father stops him, slaps him, reprimanding him that since he is a boy he is not supposed to be scared of darkness. On willing to weep he cannot shed his tears, he is prohibited from being scared even if he is scared. He wants to say, “I do not feel confident”. But he cannot say that. He is subjected to emotional castration. He is unable to feel his own emotions. He wants to be a poet. He wants to be a musician. But his father has a grocery shop and so the father wants his son to sell daal, to run the family business, to act according to his own will. The boy is fourteen years old, well-mannered he is, not at all aggressive in nature, his peers asks him to smoke and he says that he does not like to smoke. His friends tease him mock him enquiring if he is a boy or a girl and compels him to smoke. They ask him if he has ever teased a girl and he replies negatively a mock him again enquiring if he is a boy or a girl. He is made to do all sorts of badtameezi. Films are made “badtameez dil badtameez dil maane na maane na”. One must be taken to police station it will take just one minute to teach him a lesson, just one minute. Dabang, Don, Badtameez— glorifying badtameezi, glorifying dabangipaan, glorifying every filthy thing. What is the result? Patriarchy has given men so much of privileges, men constitute only 50%, 90% of them are seated in the Parliament, 99% are seated as Judges in the Supreme Court, 99% are seated in some other places of the world and perhaps because of these privileges they are unable to think that they constitute just 50%. 100% rapists are men, 99% terrorists are men, more than 95% suicide-bombers are men, criminals are men, drug-addicts are men, drunkards are men— what is this happening? In America every week a boy aged twelve, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen or twenty raise guns in their hands and kill ten to fifteen people. What do you feel that they are like this since their birth? No, the error does not lie in their births. It is the patriarchal factory that transforms them. When one is twelve years old his humane feeling, his humanity is looted by Patriarchy. Think of that man who can rape a woman. A man belonging to one particular religion can rape a woman belonging to some other religion. Think about his psychology, he hates that woman, he hates that religion. If I am a woman and hate anyone then I swear I will not even be willing to look at that person. But what does that person do? He makes his genital organ his weapon and uses it for the channelizing his vengeance. This is the relation he shares with his genital organ. What is the relation he shares with his own body? Is it that very genitalia with which he will sleep with his wife? Is it that very genitalia by which he will procreate? What is his relation with his own feelings? What is his relation with his own offspring? One fine day he will desolate his child in the lap of that very woman whom he has raped. In Vietnam War American soldiers desolated their own offspring in the laps of the Vietnamese women, Pakistani soldiers will leave their progeny in the laps of the Bangladeshi women. They share relationship neither with their emotions nor with their bodies nor with their progeny. So what is left with which he shares a relationship? And Friends I believe that dominant aggressive masculinity is only the reason responsible behind all the problems that persists in the world today. Be it terrorism or war or economic destruction of Mother Nature or communal violence or domestic violence, love of Power is the sole reason behind these. Bush loves his own power, Pati devata loves to exert his own power, Brahmin loves to exert his own power,a strong woman loves to exert power. We can also become masculine, it is not biological. A man can also become feminine; he can become compassionate alike Lord Buddha. Had it not been biological then Lord Buddha would not have taken birth in this world. Guru Nanak would not have taken birth in this world if it had been biological. Jyotiba Phule would not have taken birth. This is not biological. It is we who are rendering to it a biological identity. We are teaching men to subjugate women. But today’s women are not learning to be subjugated. So what is happening? In foreign countries 50% marriages are turning into divorces. In Hindustan also this percentage will keep on rising because if what is available to us is Patriarchal males then have we gone crazy that we will get married to them? Are we mad? A Malik or a Boss is acceptable in offices but not in home. In home what is desirable is only a partner. So today our daughters do not want pati, they do not want malik, what they want is jeevansathi who can cook, who can take care of children. Today you want us to hold a job as well as look after the household. What do you expect? Do you want us to die for you? So we refuse. I have written after Nirbhaya :
Daughters are becoming airlike
Girls are becoming airlike
They enjoy wandering with undaunted spirit
They disapprove to be stopped with no reason
Girls are becoming like pigeons
They enjoy flying alike pigeon
Girls are becoming like pigeons
They enjoy flying alike pigeon
They refuse their wings to be slashed
And girls are becoming like Sun
They love shining
Girls are becoming like Sun
They love shining
They disapprove being shrouded by cloud
Girls are becoming like Mountains
They love living with head held high
They are in no way ready to bow down their head.
If girls groom themselves in such a way then what would happen to the boys? They have to change themselves. And what is the antonym of Patriarchy? Is there anything? No. Malaria is not the opposite word of Pneumonia. Good Health is the opposite word of Pneumonia. Similarly Equality is antonymous to Patriarchy. And Friends I believe that the struggle for equality of men and women is not a struggle against men and women. Had it been a war between men and women Mr Jyotiba Phule would not have fought for us? Why would have Lord Buddha permitted entry of women in the monasteries two thousand and fifty years ago? Why did Prophet Mohammad empower women with such rights which no other religion had endowed? Therefore there exists no animosity between men and women. This is a war against legal system for legal rights. If one says that Patriarchy is better the other one defies it and claims Equality to be better. And both men and women support either of these two parties. Patriarchy is often sustained and maintained by women and Feminism by many men. Just look at this hall! So this war is ought to be fought by men valiantly. Few men, for instance UN Women has raised a campaign HeForShe. I personally dislike it—HeForShe, meaning, again He will protect us. We have witnessed how brilliantly you protect us, now leave it on our hands. Leave it on our hands, we are competent enough to protect ourselves. It is advisable that you protect yourselves. Protect yourselves from Patriarchy. Protect your humanity. Please see to it how terribly Patriarchy is ruining you. Band baaj raha hain Husband ka. Patriarchy is destroying you. Have a look at it and join our hands, march with us, engage yourselves in this struggle against Patriarchy. Not men against violence against women. We want men against violent men. If you captivate the men then who will incur violence against us? If men get transformed then who will do violence against us? So Friends we need march together towards Equality. Today Men’s Movement is of utmost importance. Before I conclude I will take one more minute for I want to raise a slogan. I work in South Asia and I have learnt this slogan from Pakistan’s Feminist Movement Azaadi. Perhaps you all know this if you are engaged in this movement.
My sisters will secure it– Azaadi
My brothers will attain it– Azaadi
Every daughter’s slogan– Azaadi
Every woman’s slogan– Azaadi
Farmer’s slogan– Azaadi
Dalits’ slogan– Azaadi
Somehow we will gain it– Azaadi
Say it loudly– Azaadi
We will snatch from Male Chauvinism– Azaadi
We will grab from Brahminism– Azaadi
from Patriarchy– Azaadi
from all hierarchy– Azaadi
from Monoculture– Azaadi
from Media vultures– Azaadi
from Nuclear Blunder– Azaadi
from Rape and Plunder– Azaadi
We love it madly– Azaadi
By laughing we will attain– Azaadi
By singing we will procure– Azaadi
By walking we will secure– Azaadi
Somehow we will gain it– Azaadi.
A Public Lecture given by Kamla Bhasin
Organised by Abhivyakti on 2nd January, 2016-08-08
At Khula Manch, Rashtra Seva Dal Campus, Pune