Why the new brand of feminism bothers me
Why have we as a society become so averse to dissenting views? Is it because of the anonymity social media provides to faceless rabble-rousers?
Back in the days all you had to do to be a part of the card-carrying, hip feminist club was fling around flamboyant phrases made famous by revolutionary figures like Simone de Beauvoir or Gloria Steinem, preferably lead an unconventional lifestyle and take part in endless debates on why traditional mores don't work for you anymore.
But in the current scenario, as many women are finding to their chagrin, it's not enough to merely be aware of your rights and mouth feminist jargon when the situation demands it. You have to bellow out your allegiance on a public platform, and be ready to face the brunt in case your opinion doesn't match the populist voice. In other words, modern feminism demands a blinkers-on herd mentality that will either have you running with the pack or worse, be branded a renegade and hunted by the same pack.
It's no doubt an uncomfortable position for many who might not enjoy being part of a public spectacle, where the first stone is often cast by the one who has taken the high moral ground by merely donning the messiah's robe.
Justice can often be selective, we have come to learn, and life has taught us that equality is a concept that is seldom practised in real life. In this era of social media crusaders, matters escalate quickly into murky grounds where the gloves are off and the ones left holding the flag high are those with a more shrill voice and an even more scathing vocabulary.
The late feminist icon Ruth Bader Ginsberg's advice to women during a talk in 2015 at the Harvard Law School: "Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you," has never been more pertinent.
Crusaders need to learn that it's not just the cause that matters but the manner in which you champion it makes all the difference between a true-blue feminist and the one who's in it merely for the optics, often to propagate a narrower, selfish agenda.
We can see such examples all over the media right now. There is the frenzied actor-activist with a much-deluded egalitarian outlook who holds herself up as the lone unfailing torchbearer of feminism even as she goes about ruthlessly cutting down to size her female colleagues and resorting to cheap name-calling. Then there is the bold and courageous actor who has levelled #metoo accusations against a maverick filmmaker with liberal views, but didn't think it pertinent to withhold the names of other women whom the man has reportedly named as being favourable to his advances. I believe there is nothing more unsightly than a 'feminist' who constantly plays the victim card or points fingers at those who don't toe their line.
When British author J.K. Rowling, became a victim of cancel culture for a seemingly 'transphobic' tweet, it was part of a pandemic that was quick to crucify one who had stepped away from the populist world-view.
Why have we as a society become so averse to dissenting views? Is it because of the anonymity social media provides to faceless rabble-rousers? Or is it a growing narrowing of our own worldview that refuses to give credence to opinions contrary to ours?
In a world increasingly turning claustrophobic, be it in terms of the physical space we occupy or the constrained mental framework we are expected to function within, what is sorely lacking is empathy. What's the point of raising the flag for a brand of feminism that might be willing to overlook class, colour and creed but isn't inclusive of our real differences - the way we think and feel.