I have never celebrated womens day in a personal way. Not because I don’t beleive in it, but because for me in my personal journey of empowerment, one day does not always significantly matter. That being said, I don’t doubt the enormous significance of this day, and definitely use it to express solidarity to all with other women I know, to individualls, to people who are driving social movements as well as personal journeys of empowerment.
I was therefore a bit surprised to read on my FB page about some men complaining about womens day and how women are getting too empowered these days. Now I know social media forces me to read some arguments I find really stupid or crass, or some downright misogynist comments, but mostly I have learnt to ignore them. I pass over stupid comments which say stuff like women can prosper only if they dont sabotage each other, and as long as mother in law and daughter in law cannot get along how can women prosper. I want to challenge these people to think deeper about the arguments they are making, to understand certain underlying issues which mediate relationships between women as well, but I dont have the energy to have these arguments on Facebook.
This year, I read something far more disturbing. Someone had shared the story of a man, who committed suicide, because his wife had complained against him and his family for dowry and even threatened to complain against his father and brother for rape. According to him all these charges were false, his wife was not happy with him and wanted to torture him this way. And he felt as long as he lived his family would continue to suffer, and therefore decided to end it all.
This is truly a sad story and if it is true, I really feel bad for the man and his family. But this article I read went on to argue that for his parents, womens day is now a bad day because it took away his son. It is laws like Dowry prevention act which drove their son to suicide. It is a bad law which is being misused by women.
Now blaming women’s empowerment or progressive laws for this mans issues is mind boggling. I am sure dowry act or the domestic violence act can be misused, but a far greater concern is how underused it is, how despite there being so many issues of dowry harassment or domestic violence, so few reach the police and still fewer are pursued by the police. I am sure even laws relating to homicide and murder can be misused and falsely accuse someone, but surely we are not protesting against their misuse, why then do we need to protest so much against something which acknowledges womens issues and tries to reach out to them. Even on the issue of sexual harassment at workplace, I remember attending a talk on this by a senior HR person who spoke about how they implemented these policies in the workplace, and how he was proud that not once has it been misused to frame someone falsely. I told him it was great that no one was falsely accused, but was he really sure it was being used fullly. Was it being underused? He had no answer for that, he had no way of even knowing if his policies and redressal systems could be underused.
I am, in my own way, a feminist, but I am the last one to say the feminist movement has solved every issue. We have a long way to go in truly understanding lived experiences of every kind of women and including them within our ideology. But at least I thought we had acheived the step of convincing the world that women were entitled to basic human rights. But have we really, if every progressive legislation (never mind that these legislations are very seldom progressively interpreted or implemented)is challenged because it has a potential for misuse.