Feminists – Have a Dialogue, Don’t Dismiss With Surly Insults
Catherine Bennett’s article in The Guardian had “There is no pride to be taken in dismissing conflicting opinions with ageist insults,” as the subtitle. I ruminated over this line for a while and thought how wonderful it would be to have a world like that. A world where people are not dismissing different opinions with surly insults. Quite a possible thought only in a utopian world, I concluded. This is what Catherine tries to tell feminists in “When feminists insult each other, chauvinists cheer”. Time to take some notes, feminists.
The comment by Germaine Greer primarily led Catherine Bennett contemplating about the issue. “If you spread your legs because he said, ‘Be nice to me and I’ll give you a job in a movie’, then I’m afraid that’s tantamount to consent and it’s too late now to start whingeing about that,” Greer said recently.
Catherine adds,” The avid public appetite for any Mean Girls action, from the imagined rivalry between Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle, to potential intra-Spice Girl conflict, also guaranteed a rapt audience for Germaine Greer v the whole of #MeToo.”
This is true in the Indian context as well.
Everybody has a nose to figure out fights between women. Boys do enjoy catfights. Bigg Boss being a super hit is a testament that we are all voyeurs who enjoy fights. Remember the mean girl battle between Hina and Shilpa? The division of supporters shows how insults lead to cheer among people. This is true in the case of feminism. The moment there is a fight between two feminists, the non-feminist audiences are elated.
Greer’s comments become a bona fide to those men who thought #MeToo to be over-hyped or unnecessary. Nothing becomes sweeter for the non-feminists to have a feminist reflecting their thought.
In this digital world, most are opinionated and very active users.
There is an unsaid pride in shutting someone with an insult. This insulting trend is not just between a sect of people and their opponents. Its, unfortunately, become the way of life.
The digital space also leaves people the choice between deception and anonymity. This leads to everyone commenting, tweeting and speaking anything and everything. Scroll through comments on contentious posts and you will find people taking pride in being acerbic. There is an unsaid pride in shutting someone with an insult. This insulting trend is not just between a sect of people and their opponents. Unfortunately, it has become the way of life.
Simran Khosla from Delhi University says, “People feel imperious if they cut someone while they are speaking. A pride in insulting and walking off is quite common among teens”.
Different views and the ability to discuss one’s view is the essence of freedom of speech. In this freedom, most of us end up insulting rather than expressing views.
Kids feel to be cool one needs to insult the other. Feminists have become no different. Be it the Harvey Weinstein incident, #Metoo campaign or the march in the US, feminists have had a divided opinion. It’s very important to have a heterogeneous opinion. Different views and the ability to discuss one’s view is the essence of freedom of speech. In this freedom, most of us end up insulting rather than expressing views. A coin has two sides and similarly, every incident has different opinions.
Some might agree while some might not. It’s perfectly normal to have this. But an arrogance that what one says is the gospel truth is amusing and silly.
It is the time where most of us need to stand up against the atrocities against women. Being a feminist in this era is historic. To bring in the change that different strands of feminists work for, we need to have a dialogue. Effective communication is amiss. We need to have discussions and dialogues between people who necessarily do not have the same opinion. Rather than shutting other’s views, it okay to listen and then opine yours. That’s how ideally the system is supposed to function. This internal divide within the stream of thought will still keep the status quo intact. That’s not what most of us want. Let’s strike a conversation, not strike each other with insults.
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Reshma is an intern with SheThepeople.TV