What is more fragile than a man’s ego? Men have a special talent that they can create controversies and easily get out of it using their gender privilege. And what happens if a group of women question their immoral behavior and accuse them of sexual harassment? Ignoring the allegations and selectively advocating for ‘women’s right’ is not a new phenomenon in any patriarchal society. This is what happened in the recent Haritha organization issue. Haritha is a wing of Muslim Women’s Federation that was dissolved by the Indian Union Muslim League due to the violation of party disciplinary order.
Haritha leaders had filed a complaint to the party against Muslim Students Federation (MSF) state president and Malappuram district general for using misogynistic remarks against them. But they tried to conceal the case without going for a proper solution or taking action against the culprits. Hence, they were compelled to file a complaint to Women’s Commission and that caused the men in power to dissolve the group. It’s a popular belief that men will not apologize for their mistakes. If they do, please understand that they are not sorry for what they have done, but sorry for you finding out. Here, instead of apology they scolded the women for not properly following the religious and political rules. And the controversial statement of the National General Secretary, Noorbina Rasheed, again proved that the patriarchal system is continuing or working through women. She argued that her party was not founded with the aim to address gender politics and gender equality. She herself forgot that she is unknowingly suppressing the gender she belongs to and feels proud of it. In Kerala it is a sin or taboo to support women’s rights.
This is not an isolated case. Five years after the Women in Cinema Collective (WCC) and Association of Malayalam Movie Artists (A.M.M.A) issue we are still stuck here, addressing the same gender politics and discrimination and with a similar problem. How an organization and the male members are oppressing the women, their misogynistic attitude and the patriarchal mindset is an important issue to be discussed. After the close dissection of these issues, it is visible that the majority of men don’t want to change. Henceforth the 21st century women themselves started a gender revolution in Kerala. It was necessary to form a group of young educated like-minded women to revolt against the male chauvinism. These groups gave space for discussions that provided a platform for them to have a voice. Najma Thabsheera well spoke about the oppression they faced in their community and within the political party. She clearly said that all the members of the group were highly educated and they have their own choices and opinions. But the media and the men picturized them as monkey dancers. The injustice they have faced inside and outside of the committee cannot be counted as normal.
The A.M.M.A issue and IUML group have several similarities and dissimilarities. One group is full of political leaders and the other group with celebrities. Both groups have well educated women who are empowered, politically, financially and socially. But then also they failed at several points in the battle with their male counterparts of the group. If a privileged group of women are unable to find justice in the society what will be the situation of an unprivileged woman? The daily wagers are also facing several types of discrimination knowingly or unknowingly. But they are bearing everything because they are moulded in a way that is suitable to the existing system so that they don’t try to change it. That is why women like Noorbina Rasheed consider feminism or the women’s fight as disgusting. WCC is the women wing of the film industry in Kerala. The female members of the film society had resigned from the parent committee as a response to the sexism in film industry. Later the other female members joined with them. A.M.M.A is a male dominated sphere where the elite men rule like a king and all the women become their subjects. What the benevolent sexist male actors had done when one of their colleagues faced a sexual threat from another male colleague? They just supported the male actor because we all know that men will be men and its woman’s duty to protect herself. But the outcome was interesting, as women formed a group and revolted against these patriarchal setups. Here the organizations and people are different but the basic issue is the same.
The mindset of the men in power, especially in the context of Kerala, need to change more and develop an empathy for the fellow human beings and also in advocating women’s rights. Obviously, there is change but it’s not enough. The language of feminism became more popular in Kerala society during the late 20th century. All the changes or development related to women is a result of the feminist movement in Kerala. The third world women realized their worth and marked their resistance against discrimination, violence, oppression and misogyny. Modern women are trying to change the secondary status and secure equality in all fields. Hence, even the silly problems of women in the patriarchal society need to be analyzed. When gender becomes a barrier for securing rights, we have to question it. There should be more and more discussions on discourses like gender, masculinity, modernity, power, identity, rights and so on, to mark a change and to realize the dream called ‘equality’. Women should be more aware about their rights at a very young age so that we can tackle off patriarchy from one generation to the other. It’s time to stop the Feminism Lite. Biological differences cannot be a reason for discrimination and it’s time to break the prescribed gender norms.