Whenever I read or I watch a new debate on women’s rights, the funny words of Cheris Kramarae come to my mind; “Feminism is the sudden realisation that women are human beings too”. I laughed louder when a lady friend of mine once told me; “You know it seems like dogs are more loved and taken care of than women in this world.” However, let’s be honest, women in Mauritius do benefit from many rights which are unattainable to so many women in other countries.
I will never forget the story that my grandmother who once told me when she delivered her first child. She has never talked or been to her parents’ house after she got married as it was not allowed at her in-laws. Yet, she did go to their place when she wanted to introduce the new member of the family (thank god my grandpa was a cool chap). However, when her in-laws didn’t see her at home, it was a dramatic scene worthy of a Bollywood movie. She, like all of her other lady cousins and friends, have always learnt that their ultimate role is to be in the kitchen and to look after their family. Now my grandmother used to tell me, how lucky we, today’s daughters are. Our mothers are always ever ready to help out during our hectic office days, we drive to visit our parents whenever we feel like, we Skype, Whatsapp, post pictures together on Facebook, we pay them treats at fancy restaurants, we go to the spa together and sometimes my father would be the stay-over dad when mum is at her parents’ house.
So when I think of real feminism, I think of the times when women fought to get their right to vote, their right to work, their right to hold credit cards under their own names, their right to apply for loans, their fight to outlaw marital rape, their voice against domestic violence, their will to build shelters for those fleeing rape and their continuous fight against sexual harassment at the workplace. We have seen the emancipation of women since those dark times, both on a professional and political arena in our country. We have partially achieved equal pay compared to our male counterparts. Women do work as managers and CEOs even if they are fewer than men. Most of us are surrounded by strong, beautiful, working and independent women who have the right to speak their mind. Even if today my mother keeps on presenting a long list of the most eligible bachelors of Mauritius on my table, she has always been the first to educate my sisters and me about the importance of being financially independent in a world of sometimes ruthless males. But why are we still talking about feminism in the 21stcentury despite all these achievements? Well, I don’t like wearing dresses or skirts at work and you will always find me in trousers if ever you cross me during my lunch time simply because of the dozens of silly comments I’ll get from males, their dirty looks while I’m queuing at the bus stop or the incessant car honks till I get home.
I don’t consider myself a feminist, that angry, man-hating woman whose ultimate aim is for female domination over men as I firmly believe in human rights for all, including gay rights. If we remember the courage wave of the #MeToo movement, results led to other women condemning other celebrities of their indecent acts but what shocked me the most is the lack of concern and sympathy shown by men. Very few actors or filmmakers tweeted their support to those women. Talking about equal pay is outdated. Will a man support his wife if she gains more money than him or will he be ok if she goes to an overseas mission for a month leaving the kids at his attention or will it be fine to collaborate if the husband is the sexy cook and she the awesome mechanic at home or will it be ever normal if the husband took few months leave to be a stay over dad while the mother works? If you did blink your eyes to any of the above, then yes, we still need to talk about feminism in 2018. It has never been the roles in society that mattered just like gay rights, it is the lack of respect we have for each other. It is the hunger for power and superiority, the fight for always being right at everything and it’s the competitive nature of human beings that make us forget to look at women or any other human with empathy without us having to shout at the top of our voices to claim our rights. It should have been as normal as you feel when you drink a glass of water.