Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Recently, Dr Monika Pater, a media studies lecturer with avowed feminist leanings, asked if anyone in class wanted to do a presentation on feminist literature on journalistic practice. Not one of the 11 women and four men readily put his/her hand up.

Forget the men, but isn't it surprising that at least 10 of the 11 smart, over-25, professional journalist women in our class show wariness of feminist studies?

Is it because the anti-feminists have won the day? Or is it because the feminist movement refused to move with time, to recognise its own success in improving the status of women - and dramatically of a certain section - in society?

For example, one of the papers that was eventually discussed, statistically showed how there were less women working in hard journalistic beats such as, crime, politics and business. Most women chose soft beats such as culture and features. Thus, it called for an examination into the structural barriers to women's growth in the media.

Superficially, I would be a perfect case for this study. I started out as a business journalist, but after a year and half, moved over to feature writing for an arts magazine. But are these facts enough to conclude that the world around me is a male-inspired conspiracy against women? How about the fact that I left business journalism because it bored me. Or the fact that the former magazine offered me a promotion to stay-on. Or that, I never regretted that decision. And that many men vied for my job at the art magazine.

How can we blame men for something that I chose to do and was happy to do?

Feminist literature doesn't enthuse a certain class of women because it doesn't resonate with their lives. That it is asks them to be angry for slights that they simply haven't experienced. And it expects them to blame men for things that they themselves choose to do.

Gloria Steinam, the queen-bee of the feminist movement, asked us in 2008 to believe that "Gender is the most restrictive force in American life". (If it is true of America, it couldn't be more true of India, right?) If only, Ms Steinam would use riders like "..force in a certain section of American life". By speaking for all classes and sections, she loses my support.

Speak for yourself, Ms Steinam. For I hate pretending to be the victim. And I think, so do 9 other women in my class.

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