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June 26, 2022

The Lucky Man’s Feminism

By Kartik Desai


I have not read all the books and analyzed the public debates on feminism but I think it is about equality. Not about equality of opportunity versus equality of outcomes. Just equality. Equality of opportunity, an initial target perhaps. Equality of outcomes, the larger goal.

Of course, there are biological and sociological differences between men and women, in our bodies and our roles in societal constructs like marriage most importantly, and how we raise a family. The larger feminist discussion must take these aspects into account. But even if there are differences, so what? Equality remains an objective, despite these differences.

Then there is the increasing recognition of the gender identity spectrum and homosexuality, which raise myriad nuances in the feminism conversation. But again, it’s simple. Feminism is part of humanism. LGBTQ are human and multi-gendered. So, they deserve equality too.

In its most polarizing misrepresentation, feminism is derided both by ‘right-wing’ and ‘left-wing’ ideologues, and their echo chamber acolytes. Conservatives promote a more aggressive and direct man versus woman dialectic, that feminism is targeted against men or will inadvertently cause them to suffer, if not trying to justify patriarchy in different forms. Liberal opposition is more subtle, that ‘over-wokeness’ risks shutting out dialogue.

With all these overlapping issues at play I have struggled to intellectualize what feminism is really about, and wondered why people define it differently, argue about its internal consistently and relevance, and have such pitched battles over such a simple concept.

So today I asked myself to answer the question more emotionally or intuitively, based on my personal experience, of being a very lucky man who is a feminist because he loves, respects and appreciates many women in his life, and sees them as examples of all women.

Women like my mom, my nani and dadi, my cousin sisters, aunts (and the aunties who are not related), because I appreciate the influence they had in making me a balanced person, what I have learnt from them, and how they have nurtured and shaped so many children.

Women who are my friends, including my best friend, again for the same thing they do for me and other adult men. That is to have meaningful friendships that are different from friendships between two men. Both are wonderful in different ways, and lucky is the man who can have genuine, deep, lifelong friendships without consideration of identity barriers.

Also women who are colleagues, and I’ve been fortunate to have many, because of their talent, forbearance of the existing system and collaborative efforts to make it better. I have realized from them a very simple, and scientifically validated, fact: that a team of men and women making decisions and working together performs better than a uni-gendered group. The same thing tends to apply in social life also. A good party means a good ‘ratio’.

And of course, because of the women who I have dated, or in my case once been married to and remain close friends with, for being what every man seeks, a soulmate and partner. We all have ups and downs in our dating relationships, but that should make us wiser not embittered. And realize the common patterns that affect us both and make us similar.

I realize every man is not as lucky as me to have great female friends and some have even seen patriarchy perpetuated by women in their families. But in both cases, we have literally been shaped into who we are by women. And that awareness should make us thankful.

Imagine living in a world only of men! You wouldn’t want that right? Then why do you want women to be part of that world if not as equal members? Why should their destiny be controlled by men? What are we afraid of? Why can’t we shape our reality together?

There can only be two reasons: ill intent or ignorance. So, unless one actually believes that men are superior to women and have an inherent right to control them or denies the long history of diverse types and often brutal perpetuation of patriarchy, the truth is evident.

Even if we do not understand the nuances of the subject, or care to get into debates, we can’t deny that feminism is an overarching fundamental human objective. Or you can give it another word if it has too much baggage. Gender Justice. Dismantling the Patriarchy.  The key elements in these words – Justice and Patriarchy – highlight why feminism is not about women. It is about women and men. Justice by definition means a wrong has been committed, many wrongs, which we refer to as Patriarchy. So, this has to be corrected.

Yes, men get hurt too. Trust me, I know. And innocent men do get victimized, because of legal loopholes and unethical women. That is not okay. Full feminism in my view includes that, at least the definition I support, where equality doesn’t have ends justify any means.

But we can hardly take our personal victimhood at the hands of a few women, to justify the systematic oppression of women at large. To support patriarchy is morally corrupt, as evil as being racist. If a person of a different color robbed you, would you write off their race?

If you do that, it basically means you are a fool. You were unlucky and something bad happened to you. You can hold in that anger and apply it to an entire group. Or you can realize you were just unlucky, and those episodes wired you to think in very wrong ways.

It happens to every guy. We are born into a patriarchal world and don’t become feminists by nature. Ideally, a young man is lucky enough to be influenced by strong and good women and shaped by his different experience to apply judgement and becomes a natural feminist, despite the odd unhappy experience that happens, because he attributes that to bad luck.

The real unlucky ones are those who don’t realise their misfortune was just that. Theirs. This limiting experience gives them a false understanding of human reality. In this bubble, a few bad interactions with women over their life represent a pattern because it matches that of other unlucky fellows with similar stories. And thus they collectively agree that feminism is misguided, and become vindictive because of their own victimhood. For them to come out of this mindset, nothing any woman says will ever help. Because these poor souls hate females.

So, it is up to us lucky men to tell them. And pop their idiotic anti-feminist bubbles. For good.

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