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Feminism for all

Ringkasan dari video Feminism for all oleh Kamla Basin. Video dapat ditonton di https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HmmvM1NOI1s

I’m a feminist and I do not hate men or women who are not feminist. Today, a young woman can dream of playing football, young woman can come from Kashmir and go to university. We didn’t get this as charity from anywhere; we got it because people work for it. In Harvard University after men got admission, it took 237 years for the first two women to be allowed into Harvard. Cambridge and Oxford took longer, 260 years. I salute all of my fore mother and fore father on whose shoulder I stand here.

‘I’m a feminist.’ Why? When I say ‘My feminism’ is clear that there is no one feminism, there is a plurality of feminisms and feminists. My feminism is like a torch, it’s like a a bulb that trying to fight the darkness of patriarchy, the injustice, unfairness, and violence of patriarchy.

My feminism has been my life, my creativity, my friends all over the world. My feminism is against sexism, discrimination based on sex. It against all kind of discrimination. It against patriarchy. Patriarchy is a social system in which by definition men are considered to be superior, and then which men are more control over the resources, decision making, and ideology. So we are against patriarchy, not against men.

Many men accept patriarchy, many women accept patriarchy, and they don’t just accept patriarchy, they did patriarchy to their children and they perpetuated. So we are not against normal human beings who may be don’t understand what patriarchy is.

My feminism is not western. My feminism is local, it’s organic. That is why in South Asia the issues we have taken up are sati and dauri. In Pakistan we took up the issue of hudood ordinance (mas kawin), we have taken up the issue of child marriage, sex selective abortion, because of which in India 35 millions of girls and women have been killed. So my feminism is local, but my feminism is also global because patriarchy is global, violence is global, discrimination is global. My feminism is like water that take the shape of container where it is put in. My feminism takes the shape according to the patriarchy which exist in our society.

A feminist said ‘The feminism is a radical notion that women are human.’ Patriarchy doesn’t know women as human. Another woman who didn’t even call herself a feminist said, ‘Every time I refuse to be a doormat they call me a feminist.’ Sometimes other people call you a feminist before you call yourself a feminist. So feminism is not only about equality, it’s about humanity of women and men. It’s about our rights as half of humanity. It’s not about dominating men.

Our feminism is not saying I want to be the same as men, I can’t be the same as men. Moreover, are all men the same? All of the men sitting here, are you all the same? Do you think the same; do you like the same things? No! All of women sitting here are the same? No! So we don’t want to be the same, we just want to be equal. Just like this five fingers are not the same, but they are equal. They have their roles, and if this one bleeds, I hurt. So we are not looking for sameness, we are looking only and only for equality.

For some feminists, patriarchy is very closely linked to class, caste, racism, and heteronormativity, so we can’t fight inequality between men women alone. We also fight inequality between castes, classes, religions, races, etc. These days we call it intersectionality. A dalit woman is raped much more than an educated woman like me because she is a woman and a dalit and a poor. So there are three systems that oppressing her.

Let me share you my feminist journey. In the age of 26 years old I never heard the word feminism. But since the age of 4 or 5, I think I had feminist arches. Like my three brothers and the boys in the region Rajasthan where I grow up, I want to play outside. I wanted to learn how to whistle. I wanted to climb the trees. I wanted to go to school. My feminism was as simple as that. Between the ages of 3 and 8, I was sexually abused by 14 different men. They were all known to my family, relatives, friends of brother. After I was 8 or 9, I knew how to avoid those kind of men and how to avoid sexual abuse. I don’t know how many women can say they have never been sexually abused or at least have had the fear of being sexually abuse.

You don’t have to know the word feminist or read book on feminism to become a feminist. I don’t think 500 years ago in Rajasthan or Kashmir, people had read feminists’ books. Books don’t teach you feminism, injustice does, patriarchy does, violence does, lack of freedom does, that’s what make us feminist.

You can ask, as a feminist what did you do? Well, the first thing I try to do is study. As I said, I grew up villages, my father was medical doctor in Rajasthan with six children. I went to government school and went to government college in Rajasthan, and then work very hard and got the fellowship to go to Germany. There I’ve got the job in Germany, a permanent very well-paid job. I resign after 11 months and I came back to the poor Rajasthan to join an NGO at the salary of 215 Rupees. We work with adivasis and dalits men, women, and children.

After 4 years, I was offered a job by the UN in Bangkok with massive salary. With that money, I help my younger siblings, help them get educated, help them get jobs, help my parents financially, emotionally and in every other ways. I learned that culture don’t make human beings, human beings make culture. That’s what we need to understand here today.

Secondly, culture is not a dead thing. Culture changed with time. Our culture and our practices should change according to Indian constitution which said all human being in India are equal whatever their sex, their religion, their caste. So culture has to adjust to that, rather than that it adjusted to culture.

I’m a feminist but I did get married, and to a man. That man did not like to work in the job because he found most organisation undemocratic and rigid. He want to have the same freedom which many educated women with M.A. and Ph.D. degree have who decide to become homemakers, so he decide to be homemaker. Why? Because he has a feminist wife who was willing to work and who was not ashamed that her partner did not earn any money.

Our marriage was not ownership by him of me. Our marriage was a partnership so neither he changes his name– his surname nor I change my surname. We got married in Bangkok, we went to the India Embassy with 4 friends, sign, came back, no kanyadaan [‘giving away the bride’ in Sanskrit, is a symbolic marriage ritual for the Bride’s parents and the couple]. Do you realize that the custom of kanyadaan is against the Indian constitution? No father even has the right to give a kanyadaan, she is not a thing, she is not an object. No kanyadaan, no touching of the feet of my Lord and Master. Look up a good dictionary and see the word husband, does not  connotes equality, same word as animal husbandry. Same word! So husbands are those who tame women, who domesticate women. No none of us has to domesticate anybody. 

We have two children. I have given birth and breastfeed. You know why? Because my husband has no uterus and without breast. So I was quite happy to do this most creative work of my life and my partner did everything which neither breast nor uterus is required. You don’t need a uterus, you don’t need breast to drying nappies, like cleaning children and bathing them.

Now what did this partnership do? It freed me, give me the freedom to do what I wanted. It gave him the freedom to do what he wanted. He didn’t want to do a job. He wanted to pursue his interest in jazz, in social activism, in doing public litigation to help some causes. Both could lit human life and not stereotype based on genders. My parents and my brothers did not have to look a husband for me, prepare a dauri for me, they were free because I was free. I could stand on my own legs.

I suppose in many minds, you picture a feminist as a middle class, an educated, jeans pants, short hair, maybe smoking women. Yes, such feminist do exist. But also the vegetable sellers in my colony who come at 8 o’clock in the morning. That’s means she must have to get up at 5 o’clock to go to the market and get her vegetable. I found out that she is a single woman, looking after three children, because the husband is gone with another woman.

What’s about this woman I’ve met 3 days ago, her name is Nukumari from Ajmer district. She was married off at the age of three. And the custom there is when they become 13, 14, 15, they send them to their husband’s family. But she said, ‘I’m not going. She fought the Jati Pancayat, and she escaped that marriage. She is a village woman, a feminist or not? Young Malalai from Pakistan, the youngest Nobel Peace laurette, a feminist? Her father, is he a feminist or not? Mr. Mahendra Singh Phogat, who train his daughter as  wrestler, and his wife, are they feminist or not? The millions of girls in Bihar breaking all the cycle of patriarchy, cycling their way to school with laptop in their bags, feminist or not?

Almost a million who was elected to Panchayats and municipalities in the last 25 years, and many of them, at least 50 percent of them doing brilliant works, feminist or not? So this notion, that feminists are open, educated, middle-class women is wrong. In India, the feminist movement is so much stronger in the villages, you just have to see to believe.

So this is what we need to look at. Feminism make us angry, because there are so much to get angry about. But have you heard feminists burning buses? We never burn buses, we never pick up a gun and kill people like in the US.

My last few words are feminism is for gender equality. All research in the world tell you that the world need man and woman to be equal for societies to go ahead, for families to be happy, for children to be happy. All researches stated that gender equality is not a zero-sum game, women will benefit, men will lose. No! It’s a win-win for both. Since men and women have to live together, only if women are free will men be free. My biggest slogan in life is not love of power but power of love. So why be afraid of feminism? Embrace it, become a feminist, make this world a better world.

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