Smriti fluttered her eyelashes at the mirror as she meticulously lined them darkly. It was a miraculous transition from lackluster to a smoldering intensity. I was lazily lolling on the bed with my face to the ceiling. Propping myself up on my elbows, I observed her tedious method of creating a façade. I find the whole concept and process of obscuring your face, very irritating and phony. Bemused, I asked her, “Why do you do that? Doesn’t it make you feel diminutive? Inadequate, somehow?”
She stopped, with her hand midair, “What? What are you talking about? Why are you always so dense?”
“About putting on layers. Layers of false perception. Layers of makeup.”
She turned and said, “Are you insane? Don’t you know Ankul is coming too? I don’t seek to impress, I mean to dent.” She carelessly flicked her hair, in one fluid motion and laughed indulgently, which sounded discordant and harsh to me. Had she acknowledged reasons of self-gratification or something equally frivolous, maybe I would have understood and yielded. But her justification of it as a weapon towards a scheming end, triggered off more inconsistencies with her and her friends being confirmed feminists, vehement and vitriolic, hypercritical and violently attacking over inconsequential biases, some of which don’t even have a bearing.
We made our way to the bar, with me in a universal pair of jeans and an everyday T-shirt, where a poster screamed “Ladies’ Night!!! Complimentary First Drink!”
Excited and giggling, the gang of girls and I made our way inside. What was interesting was that I don’t remember ever coming across a “Men’s Night” or the like. Is this not gender bias? Why should it be mandatory for men to get a female escort with the rule waived for women? And why is it that we don’t find forums or discussions demanding their erasure or at least some element of equality? Isn’t that the call of feminism, equality? Like all minority groups or those who have been oppressed in the past, hold the preceding atrocities as a justification or redemption for future reversals, albeit unfair. In their search for vindication, or justice, maybe they were concentrating and working towards what they sought to be free from.
While I was busy mulling over these questions, my friends had conveniently disappeared with dancing partners and I noticed Smriti cavorting with Ankul. I was the only one left. Hmmmmm…maybe I was missing something.
On our way back, I looked back on one of the meetings of the “Club Feminiado”, (Smriti and her cohorts). It was one of the unrestrained hostility and venom spewing days. The theme for the discussion being whether there should be reservation of seats in the parliament for women or not, with the majority supporting it, it again dug up my doubts about the validity of their intentions. Why would a proclaimed feminist have to depend on the crutches of reservation to be able to make a point or to “make a dent”? It didn’t make sense.
Whether they were inherently insincere or genuinely blind, I don’t know. Like I mostly was at these meetings, I sat around passively and reflected on the wildly animated faces and vigorous gesticulations around me. It is very easy to hail from the upper echelons of a society and to outlaw oneself voluntarily from the mainstream, decrying the society’s antiquated norms and biased perspectives.
It is easy because the elite, in its endeavor to appear avant-garde, would even pretend to be benignly accommodating of these aberrations. This is specially a characteristic of the nouveau riche, who would welcome and willingly adopt any such frivolity with gravity, just to be part of the included in the cream of the society, no matter if they do not understand or support the cause.
But the case is different with provincial or familial rich, as they become immune to passing rebellions and have learnt and earned the art of contempt over the years. They scornfully toss these small mutinies aside and continue arrogantly continue on the prejudiced paths trod by their ancestors. Compared to the superficiality and voguish ness I attach to the modern feminism, I absolutely applaud the women hailing from modest, regional backgrounds, who enjoy none of the support systems the others benefit from. I say regional because it is immensely tougher to break out of those settings.
While I have watched some of my women friends lobby for feminism, I have also seen them going back home in buses, occupying “reserved ladies’ seats”, from which the opposite sex has been ousted. One of the most blatant ridicules of this fad are the clubbed “Handicapped, Elder Citizen and Ladies” queues and bus entrances. And the saddest part is that these are exploited to their best by both feminists and otherwise as I am yet to come across a rebel, eschewing these disparities. Demanding attention, respect and equality, how can these escape their notice? How can they not stick out as hypocrisies or is it also a “right” to ignore them, so conveniently? Why do we not have lobbyists urging for the abolishment of these inequalities? Because it is convenient?
To earn respect, to depose a mindset, it is mandatory to gain a certain modicum of regard for the cause. By ignoring or maybe even advocating these incongruities, we make ourselves open targets for skepticism, which I would call justified. The only way to overthrow a biased outlook would be to initiate change from within, justly and impartially. Then, and only then can we expect apparent revolutions. But all said and done, modern societies are about images projected, pretentiously novel ideas presented, and detours taken for the sake of exclusivity. If that is the case, then do I not present a seemingly righteous path, do I not deviate from an anomaly gradually becoming a rule? Do I not try to be different, strike an unusual pose?