Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Feminism in the Times of Inequality

Just finished reading Ms. Tehmina Durrani's much acclaimed " My Feudal Lord".

Scathing view of Pakistan's socio-political tribulations. Feminism's voice emnating from the cauldron of everyone's favourite punching box- Islamic fundamentalism.

Disturbing, yet disappointing. Rivetting, yet repetetive.
First person accounts are obviously highly judgemental and prejudicial. Ms. Durrani belonged to the socio-economical and even political elite of Pakistan. That still does not provide her with the security from her husband. To a westerner it comes as a shocking account of wife-beating and oppression of women.

To the sub-continental reader who has grown up seeing Patriachal dominance, the excesses of physical and mental torture aside, the whole get-married-into-a-good-family and girls-should-do-anything-to keep-their-marriages-intact routine may sound familiar, if not taken for granted.

And since most of it is played as a K-serial saga of love-betrayal-lust-betrayal-love; it's all in the family illicit incestuous routine, you fail to find sympathy for her. She falls in lust with a married guy, breaks his marriage and when the same is happening to her, she cries foul.

No excuses for the cruel "ex-hubby of Ms. Durrani" as she points out at the fag end of the book. Sub continental men are cruel, selfish and insecure. Violence towards our women is nothing but deplorable.

My reason for not finding resonance with Ms. Durrani is simple. Her account though it illicts sympathy, but you are not sure if its totally credible.Yes, I can understand her not being able to leave her husband is the face of violence, but her explanations for going back to him again and again just does not cut through.

That aside, her being hailed as a poster girl of Feminism bothers me.

How can a woman who is responsible for knowingly breaking a marriage even stake claim to the voice of justice for other women?

The book- cleverly co authored by people who know what sells and what does'nt, plays on the ex as a monster. Why does she admire him so much then? If after 1500 beatings , she is still ready to stand up as his star campaigner , the book smartly disguises it as her sacrfices- though to me it reeks of ambition and a taste for power.

A poor little rich girl finding solace in being a celebrated author - sorry, lady. Does not cut with me.
Your publishers and you laugh your way to the bank, when a thousand tortured souls in Pakistan and elsewhere will never be heard. Yes, thank you for bringing it to the notice of the world, but I would rather hear the story of a Mukhtar Bai.

Oh well, the cynic would say, its the message that matters , not the messenger.
Men are Evil. Women are Angels. ( Equality, did someone say?)

I rather find Ms Mehmal, another pakistani writer's online take on feminism much more credible and identifiable. (

A totally contrarian phenomenon is what I see emerging. The modern world is lopsided-ly in favour of the XX chromosome.

Specially when it comes to relationships.

Men are constantly chasing women. Women are evolving beyond their comprehension. Men are confused. Women are surer and surer of themselves.

Maybe its time to write a piece on Manism....let me take this up in a seperate post :)

1 comment:

'Num said...

Long time no hear,doc.
Interesting review on the book.
Have no love lost for feminists especially ones with double standards of judgement for people.
Believe in equality yet it's hard to find people who stick by that through everyday situations and not resort to the choice of convenience,whatever their gender may be.