Patriarchy, reflected through all the structures and institutions of our world, is a system that glorifies domination, control, violence, competitiveness and greed. It dehumanizes men as much as it denies women their humanity. So we need leadership that will explore and expose these links and challenge patriarchy. The only leadership that does this is feminist leadership.
As I’m reading attempts to define feminist leadership by Peggy Antrobus, Charlotte Bunch, and others; I’m struck by the fact that I’m not just tired of defending ‘International Women’s Day’ to people, or questioning the Hallmarkisation of the day (what do you mean, ‘Happy’?); I’m tired of questioning where I am on the spectrum of justifying feminism to anybody- including myself. I chafe at pieces that make Women’s Day about explaining why feminism is good for men and boys, at pieces that focus on protecting men from HIV/AIDS, and at women who throw around the word ‘feminist’ without much thought or care into what it means.
I was told that I was overthinking it, that I was being pedantic, that I was being elitist. Am I, though? Am I?
People far more clever, articulate, and experienced in development than I am, have explained that horrible, uncomfortable dread I felt at watching the video. In case you’re interested and haven’t already read them, here are a few:
- Solving War Crimes with Wristbands: the Arrogance of ‘Kony 2012′ [Kate and Amanda of Wronging Rights, who also have an excellent Kony 2012 Drinking Game]
- A Peace of my mind: Respect my agency 2012! [TMS Ruge over on Project Diaspora]
- You Don’t Have My Vote [Unmuted]
- Links Expat Aid Workers Like and whydev have a collection of links to some of the best pieces on #Kony2012 [or #STOPStopKony2012]
Rahul Dravid, one of the greatest players the world has ever known, announced his retirement from first class cricket yesterday. The tributes from cricketing greats and fans from across the world made me ruminate on one of my childhood heroes.
It wasn’t just that he was one of the greatest batsmen that cricket has known, or that he embodied the ‘spirit of the game’. It was that he played his game in the midst of (arguably) the greatest players of this era- Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara, Ricky Ponting, Jacques Kallis, Sourav Ganguly, Shane Warne… he played it on his terms.
He played despite being overshadowed, unappreciated, overlooked, constantly called on to justify himself, questioned, sidelined… he played on. He played with humility, with earnestness, with patience, with dignity and integrity. He never shied away from self-criticism, or self-reflection. He called it when it was a poor performance, steadied the ship when it wobbled, and single-handedly saved face for India on multiple occasions.
As the week comes to a close and I look back at what I was struggling with in the run-up to Women’s Day, I realised and was reminded of a few things. If you don’t criticise, self-reflect, analyse, ask ‘why'; ‘how'; ‘when’, ‘what’- if you don’t ask the questions; you end up doing a lot more harm to things you purport to care about. If you don’t call it when it’s pandering, when it’s empty rhetoric, when you’re letting things pass unchallenged, then you are culpable too.
I was reminded that even if the focus is shifting away from women and feminism, whether feminism is getting a bad rap- my focus must not waver, my belief must stay steady. I must remain patient, steadfast, and play on.
I didn’t write a post about Women’s Day. I spent it studying Transformative Women’s Leadership instead- it felt like the right thing to do.
The revolution will not be televised.
Have a good weekend, everyone.