This post is an outcome of conversations with many people. Added to this, is the fact that I just started reading “The God Delusion” by Richard Dawkins. Dawkins’ atheism and my already firm convictions on feminism are making me pensive.
My conversation with a friend (let’s call him SK for convenience’s sake) was the start of my reflections. He was appreciative of the fact that I am a feminist, and don’t hesitate to be called one. Yes, I am. Not the bra-burning, man-hating feminist, but if feminism is about equality of opportunity irrespective of gender, if it is about being free to choose what you want to do, then I am a feminist. His questions set me thinking. Why am I a feminist? First, because I see that there is injustice. Injustice in the way the world treats women. I see double standards. I see that what is sauce for the goose is not sauce of the gander. And this, my dear readers, violates my sense of justice. As I said sometime earlier, I can ignore, or choose to fight. I choose to fight because ignoring would mean silent acceptance.
SK is an atheist. At least, he calls himself one. I would prefer to call him a rationalist who doesn’t see the rationale behind religion. Indeed, there is absolutely no rationale behind matters of faith. He said he saw religion as the major stumbling block to the emancipation of women. Do I agree? I honestly don’t know. It is true that practically every major religion discriminates against women. But then, I have a problem with the word in itself. Religion is made, nurtured, organized and promoted by men. I don’t use the word men as a generic term for human being. I mean it as a term to denote the male of the species. Most religions are male-friendly because they were invented by men. Women are often incidental in the making of a religion. In fact, their existence is a bit of an inconvenience, conflicting often with the concept of God the Father. So, it’s pretty normal that they be discriminated against and be treated like second class citizens.
That brings us to the fundamental question. Since we know that all is not well with religion, and that it is often used to justify oppression, do we shut up? Do we sit back in quiet acceptance in the name of faith? I think not. Don’t get me wrong. I am a believer. I’ve always been. But, my God is not an old man sitting somewhere up there and controlling my every action. My God does not discriminate against me because I was born female. My God is omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient. Unfortunately, he doesn’t seem to be doing much about the rampant injustice we see. Maybe he wants us to sit up and take things into our own hands! Isn’t it time we did just that?