Feminism Counterpoint 3: The Illusion of Equality

Feminism-Equality

I wrote a couple of posts in the last few weeks on the feminism wave in India. More specifically, I linked to a Buzzfeed article which showed pictures of people who held placards which began with the words: ‘India needs feminism because…’

I was critical of the whole exercise, and also some of the responses that came in. Understandably, my views drew some ire.

Today I ran into a post on Tumblr called ‘Women Against Feminism‘. If you’ve not seen it, please do. Whether you agree with it or not, at least you know there is a counterpoint to modern-day feminism that many people believe in. Sometimes it’s necessary to know that an opposing point of view existsAnd that we have options other than ‘feminist’ and ‘misogynist’.

And how does the feminism movement respond to this?

By using one of two common responses:

  1. You’re a misogynist (or chauvinist – take your pick).
  2. You don’t understand feminism. (This is particularly common. I’ve only recently begun expressing my views on the matter and I’ve already been told that I don’t understand feminism more often than I could count.)

Here is a post on The Daily Beast that takes this stance. ‘You don’t hate feminism,’ it says, ‘you just don’t understand it.’ In other words, you are a feminist, you just don’t know it yet.

One of the comments had this to say:

This is exactly how every imam and priest describes members of other religions to their flock. If someone rejects the Bible or Quran it’s because they don’t “understand” it. If someone has a critique of its principles they need to “read up” on the subject more and gain more knowledge before they judge People subscribed to ideologies all play this game. It sets up a situation where the only people who can have legitimate criticisms are people who subscribe to that particular ideology, and of course these people necessarily won’t be critical of an ideology’s principles to begin with. Voila! You’ve just created the perfect bubble for yourself.

Has this ‘bubble’ not arrived already in India? Isn’t there a silent minority of people – some of them women – who reject the ideas of modern feminism but are afraid to voice their concerns in the fear of being shouted down and being told that they’re ignorant?

On Equality

One sentence we hear a lot in debates on feminism is that it is all about equality. Indeed, it should be. It’s what the dictionary requires it to be. But is it that in reality?

From the same person who commented above:

The “feminism just means equality” line is particularly grating…patriarchy, rape culture, male entitlement, heteronormativity, intersectionality, body positivity, toxic masculinity; if you go into a space of feminist discussion these are the things that at this moment are most likely to be talked about, not “equality” in the sense most understand it.

Here are some more examples of inequality in our social and legal systems caused by modern feminism.

1. Women are given full custody of kids in cases of separation. Even in cases where the woman is the breadwinner and the father is a stay-at-home dad, custody is given to women. In most cases it’s the father who pays child support. The Fathers’ Right Movement has been trying to get these laws rewritten, and has been getting stiff resistance from feminists.

2. ‘Equal pay for equal work’ is a feminist mantra. And yet in Grand Slam Tennis tournaments, women get paid the same amount of prize money as men for putting in 60% of the work. (Women’s matches are best-of-three events, whereas men play best-of-fives.) Women’s games bring in far less revenues too. The tickets for the women’s final is priced almost 2.5 times lower than the men’s final. So in effect, men are doing 2.5 times the work in terms of revenue, playing 40% longer games on average, and are getting paid the same amount. Is that equality?

Here is an article that presents the ‘argument’ for equal pay. Be sure to read the comments.

3. In our own country, gender-neutral rape laws have been opposed by feminists. According to a women’s rights activist:

I oppose the proposal to make rape laws gender neutral. There is physicality in the definition of rape, there is use of power and the victim has a stigma attached to her. If made gender-neutral, rape laws will not have the deterrence value and it will make it more complicated for judges in court

4. Further in India, the law heavily leans toward women, giving them reservations, social welfare and a whole lot of sops. If feminism were truly about equality, it would first train their gaze at these legal inequalities. On the contrary, most women’s rights movements aim to increase the level of subsidies and special treatment, and therefore increase the level of inequality.

On the other hand, do we have any examples of feminism working for equality of the sexes? Have we seen any feminist take a stand on men’s issues? No, and no.

So given all this, is it really our fault that if we’re perhaps a little skeptical of the feminist movement’s claims to equality?

What are your views on the matter? Do you believe modern-day feminism truly stands for equality?

Image Courtesy: Women Against Feminism

Comments

  1. sindhuvr says:

    Egalitarianism is definitely more utopian than feminism could ever be. That said, each sector of people who belong to differing races or gender tend to have their own fair share of advantages of belonging to that bubble. As an advocate of equality we all want the best of all worlds, which is great. But, our secret wish is to get the best of all worlds while not giving away the advantages that people in our bubble have. A self-proclaimed feminist not using her ‘Because I am a woman’ wildcard or a man not using his ‘Because I am a man and so I can get away with doing this’ wildcard is a rarity. This applies across other types of discrimination as well. To this point, I think people will secretly not want equality as much as they claim otherwise, out loud. Luckily, there are people who are either too naive or too ideal, who would actually want equality secretly as well. Yet, everyone deters change except for the ones onto whose hearts, we were successfully able to romanticize change. But feminism is a more detestable form of change when compared to equality. I do fervently hope that feminism was started as a means of trying to achieve something bigger(a matriarchal society) knowing that it won’t be possible and hence settling for something less ideal(an egalitarian society) and that overtime, it lost its vision(How naive! I know!). But it is absolutely possible if you come to think of it.

    Also the tennis example, comfortably(if I might add), left out the whole picture in some parts.
    1. Three sets for women vs Five sets for men: That is fairly right. In an ideal world, they should both be either three sets or five sets.
    2. Revenue generation from women’s matches vs men’s: Strictly NOT the players’ call alone here. There are huge differences in terms of advertising and ‘marketing’ these two types of matches. Not to forget, for the same effort put on advertising both the types of matches, garnering interest for a man-vs-man is a lot easier, partly because we are genetically coded to believe that a man-vs-man has a lot more to offer in terms of competitiveness and partly because, it has simply been that way ever since tennis developed into a full fledged sport.
    3. Subtle digression. I hope a mixed double match is egalitarian enough for you. Since we are discussing equality in terms of prize money, it is probably the least attracted and has the least to offer. To put it in perspective, it is not even one-third of the doubles’ prize money offered to men’s doubles winner or women’s doubles winner. (http://www.wimbledon.com/en_GB/about_aeltc/201205091336574569863.html) So does that mean that equality is not well-received(or well-marketed 🙂 )? Dear God! I hope not.

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    • Hi Sindhu,

      Excellent point about all of us publicly wanting equality but secretly wanting ourselves to be ‘more equal’ than others. That’s just the ‘self vs other’ thinking that we’re doomed to be born and die with.

      You’re right in your fervent hope. Feminism did begin life as a ‘rights’ movement, which aimed to give women equal rights as men. Right to vote, right to own property, right to education being the three most important ones. You can read more about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_feminism

      About the ‘tennis’ part of your comment, on point 2, the reason why women’s games are marketed and advertised less is because viewers like it less. It’s as simple as that. It’s been revealed in many viewers’ studies that they (both male and female viewers) prefer watching men’s tennis to women’s tennis. It could be argued that women’s tennis is getting as much traction as it does only because it is ‘tagged’ to men’s tennis. None of the other sports do this, and we can see the results there. If women’s tennis were ‘untagged’, I’d say the viewership would go far further down. (But I concede this last part is just my theory.)

      What is pretty conclusive, though, is that the market for women’s tennis is not as significant as men’s tennis. Because let’s face it: the product is inferior in quality. So to demand equal pay while a) working only 60% and b) bringing in far less revenue is unfair. And not at all ‘equal’.

      And as to point 3, the same thing applies. It’s a business. They players get a cut of the revenue they bring in. You bring in more revenue, you get a bigger cut. You bring in less revenue, you get a smaller cut. Right now, mixed doubles is right at the bottom of that pile – for whatever reason – and therefore their pay reflects that.

      When we think about it, it’s nothing different to a normal job. You only get paid in relation to the money you earn for your company.

      Thanks for leaving a comment, Sindhu. And welcome to the blog 🙂

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    • I just saw the chart you linked to. Poor mixed-doubles guys! Someone needs to campaign for them ASAP 🙂

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  2. I have some totally different views about feminists (not feminism) although I fear feminists may classify me as one who ‘does not understand what feminism is’.
    For one, the women/men who shout slogans for feminism generally belong to larger cities and metros. While women from both cities and villages are discriminated against, no one seems to be shouting for the rural women who are more or less at the same level where they were decades ago. And that’s a large part of the population.
    Second, being related to the media, I understand the importance of using social media to talk about feminism and bring pressure upon educated people to change their outlook. Yet little attention is paid to improve the standard of living of below-the-poverty-line and lower middle-class women. Feminism seems to attract only that strata of society which earns six-figure monthly incomes or more. Though feminists might argue that even these women are not treated equally, I think the percentage of population covered by the feminists hardly makes a dent in the entire female fraternity of the country.
    Third, exhorting women to assert their rights is commendable, but there should be a simultaneous plan of action to provide lesser-endowed women with the necessary education, financial acumen and courage to face hostile situations. Even in 2014, a woman who fights for her rights is opposed not only by those affected by her, but also a part of the society who is naturally inclined to bulldoze any voice that threatens the balance of power away from the male-domination.
    Do the so-called feminists have a game plan to bring about a change in the entire social fabric of the country ranging from Mumbai to Imphal and Jammu to Kanyakumari? Or is this one of those millions of tasks which they think is the government’s responsibility? If that is so, then real emancipation of women should take around a century more.

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  3. Priya Shah says:

    Many feminists take stands for the issues of men. Most of us work toward equal rights, to destroy gender stereotypes in its entirety. In fact, we believe that it’s sad how men and boys can’t do certain things or be a certain way just because it isn’t “manly” enough. Why can’t boys play with Barbie Dolls? Why can’t they like anything that girls like without being called gay? I mean, maybe they are gay (which is totally cool), but if they aren’t then they will grow up having to be judged for liking what they like! Even more, men have to face unrealistic standards, similarly to women. Of course, it does not affect most men like it does to women, but it will very much affect their self-esteem growing up and not being able to fulfil society’s perception of male attractiveness. Furthermore, we also hope to eliminate bias in court whether it is in cases for custody or rape. What people don’t understand is that feminism, though it has an awful connotation, really is about equality for ALL.
    However, I believe your Grand Slam Tennis Tournament argument is bull. It is not the woman’s fault if the tournament managers do not wish to include more rounds for the women’s competitions. In fact, it’s really unfair. But even though women can’t play the same amount of rounds as the men, women should get the same amount of pay, as women put the same amount of effort into their training and practice.

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