I come from a lower class background, economically and socially. But I regularly mingle with higher class people. Education and the city life have given me that opportunity. Though when I am with them, I am always on my guard. I fear that I may be judged for my mannerisms, my less-civilized ways, my un-culturedness. No one says that I am less than them in any way, that I lack mannerisms, that I am less civilized, or that I am un-cultured (not at least out loud) but I find it hard to let go my class consciousness. I find it hard to not measure myself constantly, on an imaginary “higher-class” scale.
I think the same thing is happening with women. Our patriarchal society makes women feel inferior. Women cannot enjoy the kind of freedom that men take for granted. They regularly have to hear taunts or are censured for their behaviour, mannerisms and actions. This has made them develop a kind of class consciousness vis-à-vis men.
Women are tired of hearing taunts, in their houses, in social gatherings or at workplaces. But the new woman, emancipated by the feminist movement, is trying to develop an identity, an identity which will make her feel that she is on equal footing with men. But she cannot get rid of the class consciousness I describe above and hence she is cautious, and judgemental of every guy who is around her.
In such a scenario it becomes hard for a guy to make any comment regarding women, lest you be called sexist. A mere observation that girls are more fond of emojis than guys lands you in trouble. Or when you say that women especially enjoy talking about family matters with other women, it is not taken lightly. Cracking a joke about women’s driving skills or their obsession with photos is a strict no-no. Don’t even dare do that. Your intent doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter that you are an outspoken champion of women rights. It doesn’t matter you call yourself a feminist. It doesn’t matter you decry patriarchy. It doesn’t matter you feel as distressed by the reports of rape as any woman would. Regardless, you will be treated just like any other man.
As if the word “women” has acquired the quality of the word “blacks”: you are not supposed to utter it in isolation. But this severe reproach has other unintended consequences too. It shuts the dialogue. It hampers free flow of ideas. I now feel fearful to talk about women as a separate sex. It cannot be denied that men and women are two different sexes as they have biological differences. Those differences do not make one inferior or the other superior. But the fact remains that there are differences, the proportion of those differences being debatable. But I now fear to even point them out. I cannot even dare say that man has a penis and woman a vagina.
I am tired of this now. I am tired of defending myself, tired of saying that I am on your side. I cannot do it anymore. I will rather prefer to just stop the dialogue.
Update: I just came across this blog post with an opposite stance. I thought I should mention it here: Sexist Jokes Are Not OK