Science has a no-nonsense way of conducting experiments as we were taught in school. Make observations, draw an inference from said observations and the experiments and then supply a conclusion based on the results. Have no bias whatsoever and stay true to facts. That is what I will attempt to do here, be as objective as possible as to determine the cause and effects of lack of equality among human beings.
Before we talk about things like feminism, misogyny, benefit of doubt and subtle changes in the gender hierarchy, we need to talk about human beings as a whole. Dynamics between men and women and how our minds work is of essential importance while trying to understand the existence of complicated issues such as sexism, racism, casteism etc. Let’s observe ancient history, where men and women were barbarians. There was this inexplicable need the males felt when they saw the females, they couldn’t explain it but they NEEDED it. So they used objects to hit women on the head till they were unconscious and drag them into their cave to procreate. Sometimes the females would die, so they adapted & started using blunt objects to only maim and not kill their target. The females, tried to defend themselves but more often than not were physically overpowered. That’s how the seven billion people of today came to be.
“When the chips are down and rules don’t matter these civilized people will eat each other if they have to”, quoting Heath Ledger’s Joker from The Dark Knight here.
Might seem out of place, but this is very relevant. It speaks about how everything humans do is conditional. And that only the condition matters.
Fast forward to the era between the 1500s to the 1900‘s, humans became much more aware not only of themselves but also of the things around them. Education and art flourished during that period, equal human rights started to seem possible and not just a far-fetched dream. That change came – not without reason – as science advanced scientists found that human bodies were all more or less alike irrespective of gender (excluding reproductive systems, obviously), caste or creed. That shattered the dominant male’s world view, in their opinion they were physically stronger & mentally sharper so they had to be superior, how could they then be considered equal to women? Like every change it not only took a while to implement but also wasn’t accepted by everyone, still isn’t till this day. Seems kind of weird for the mighty human species, the apex predators as we call ourselves, civilized human beings to not be able to make the change in themselves based on reason when barbarians made the change in themselves based on wanting to simply get off. The key point is the change suited the barbarians and their priorities, it did not suit the civilized human males’ priorities. “Kind of weird” is putting it mildly, it’s actually insane. What else would you call someone who completely ignores obvious evidence?
“Insanity is like gravity, all it needs is a push”, second quote I mention from The Dark Knight by Joker which speaks about the condition from the first one, and how that condition just needs a trigger and it can turn into an irrational compulsion, a force that drives you from within to take/not take actions based on facts. In the barbarians that condition was being horny, which drove them to make the change in their style of weaponry. For the civilized men the condition was power, which drove men to deny that the power dynamics were not in their favor, at least based on empirical evidence it wasn’t. I firmly believe this is the reason for feminism to even exist, it’s the incapacity of people to accept change since they weren’t able to place facts over personal priorities.
Feminism proposes the liberation of women from the patriarchal society we have created, & change it into an equal one regarding matters of social, civil & personal rights. A society where people aren’t judged by their gender, but by their abilities. Atleast, that’s what the originators of the ideology imagined.
It took a while for the world to catch on, but the various social media movements such as #metoo and #timesup gripped the world in horror, when people realized how women’s rights are still lacking in majority of the world. Shouldn’t that have been enough to make people realize how messed up our priorities are? Human beings can send machines beyond our own solar system, we can send humans on the moon but we simply cannot accept men & women as equals? That is where another kind of trigger happens where not unlike an auto immune disease the protectors attack what they want to protect.
When a person/people propose a revolutionary theory in any particular matter, the immediate reflex of the human species is to ignore it, to laugh and ridicule it and finally to destroy it. Again, let’s look through history from peace & unity promoters like Mahatma Gandhi & Martin Luther King junior to scientists like Hypatia & Archimedes all of them were murdered. Feminism met with the same ridicule,it wasn’t a person though but an ideology so it couldn’t be killed off. With people taking sides according to their own opinions, a divide came into place which wasn’t much different from the divide caused by race or religion. And that is precisely what brings me to my third and final quote from The Dark Knight, again by the Joker “You either die a hero, or live long enough to watch yourself become the villain.” The hatred spewed in each direction between pro-feminists and anti-feminists, began to blur the lines & before people could know what was happening the victim became the aggressor in the form of feminazi’s and male-bashing. Is that a fair statement? Women were denied equal rights for centuries, still are in many places and yet they are being held accountable for being overzealous and ending up violating what they claimed to believe in. Are they both the same magnitudes of offence? Definitely not. Does that make it right? Definitely not, but it surely gives men the excuse to stereotype all feminists as feminazi’s and try and draw attention away from the underlying issue.
So what now? Are we doomed to ignoring what the other side is saying and yell our own opinions louder? Will humanity get compartmentalized on the basis of difference of opinion to the extent that people will just stop trusting each other? Depends on what you believe, if you believe the need to prove yourself right exceeds the need to question & analyse what’s right then the Joker would be proud of you.
The reason I keep mentioning the Joker and his lines is because one of the few great things DC comics ever did was to create the character of The Joker. He had no superpowers, but he also didn’t have any delusions about people. He saw the world for what it was and not what he’d like it to be. He had no motives of his own, and that is precisely why he was so dangerous, he knew people. How their minds worked, and that is specifically why this fictional character’s quotes from a somewhat old Hollywood film hits home a little too hard.
But he wasn’t right in the end of the movie, was he? The people in the bomb-rigged ships carrying the trigger for the other ship didn’t blow each other up. From that I’d like to believe in humanity, I would sleep better knowing that maybe, just maybe at the brink of destruction humanity will do what it does best- evolve. Because that’s all any of us can do really, do our best to learn and listen, and have faith in the people around us.
© Suyash Upadhay, 2019.