Perspective: “No Comments!” By Anil Shrivastava ‘Musafir’
Every time I turn on cable TV channels, I notice a bunch of women wearing hat and ribbons talking about women’s rights and equality in symbolic gestures. Then the camera rolls on to rallies and slogan-shouting activists on Main Street America. They expect us to conform to their presumptions and premise through innuendo and fear tactics. Have you ever thought who are those people? They are the army recruited by political action and special interest groups. Many of them are hired hands to participate in those rallies. Folks who really care about women’s elevation are the altruists who work in the trenches. Unfortunately, we all get riled up by media’s hyperboles.
I choose to categorize people and groups patronizing women’s causes in three categories. 1. Some are born great 2. Some achieve greatness 3. Greatness thrust upon them.
Some Are Born Great
There have been many privileged ladies in the past who used their wealth, fame and status to improve and reform women’s condition in the society and world at large. Some of them are mentioned below:
Aretha Franklin, who died recently, called women to action with her rousing version of “Respect.” The resolute message for respect became a slogan for both the women’s rights and civil rights movements.
Franklin’s another song “Sisters Are Doin’ It for themselves” became an anthem for the emancipation of women from the constraints of a sexist society.
Susan B. Anthony
Susan B. Anthony born February 15, 1820 was not allowed to speak at temperance rallies. Bitter from this experience, she dedicated her life to woman suffrage. Ignoring opposition and abuse, Anthony traveled, lectured, and canvassed across the nation for the right of women to vote. She also advocated for women’s labor organizations. Anthony also persuaded the University of Rochester to admit women.
Simone de Beauvoir
Simone de Beauvoir was a French existentialist philosopher and writer. De Beauvoir wrote books and articles on ethics, and feminism. In The Second Sex and The Mandarins, she produced an articulate attack on the fact that throughout history women have been relegated to a sphere of passive acceptance of roles assigned to them by society. Her works heralded a feminist revolution and remains to this day a central text in the investigation of women’s oppression and liberation.
Some Achieve Greatness
There are women who were not born with privilege. They silently work in the trenches to serve other women without restoring to symbolism, publicity or any political agenda. Some of them are mentioned below:
Sampat Pal Devi
As founder of the Gulabi Gang, also known as the Pink Sari Brigade, mother of five and former child bride Sampat Pal Devi is one of the most hands-on change agents in India. The Gulabi Gang have been active since 2010 in northern India and are famed for their opposition to domestic and other violence against women. They visit abusive husbands in an attempt to help the men change their ways. To date 270,000 people have joined the cause, in a country where everyday violence against women is a common place.
Activist Sarah Tenoi is leading the charge against female genital mutilation (FGM) in Kenya. She is a project manager for the ‘Sponsored Arts for Education’ (SAFE) peace program and works countrywide to promote positive social change through peaceful protest and education.
Hajiya Amina Ahmed
Ahmed is a peacebuilder from Nigeria who works across religious and ethnic lines to empower women and build peaceful communities. “Women are typically the most-affected in conflict situations, but are excluded from decision-making processes concerning peace and security. Why is it so? If I am on the receiving end of violence, should I not be included in the discussions to end it? Women are leaders; we are peacemakers. When women are educated and enlightened, we have the potential to become models in our community,” Hajiya says.
Greatness thrust upon ’em
Then we have political mouthpieces, egoists and demagogues who try to take center stage for publicity or are made poster children for a political cause. Some of them are mentioned below:
Here is a woman who lectures on women’s rights. In fact, her life and career are built on sleazy self-promotion. She is wanton and has indulged in every passion degrading women. She is lewd and lascivious.
It was sad that she was shot by the Taliban and condemned by many in her home country, Pakistan. But since then she has been made a poster child for women’s uplifment by the Western media. Malala’s initial goal was to promote equality of education – she hoped to ensure that all children, whether male or female, receive the same educational opportunities and that gender never plays a role in this discrimination.
Yet, somehow, the West managed to contort her intentions to benefit its own perspective, portraying themselves as the saviors of women around the world and war against the Taliban.
Hillary Clinton talks about women’s empowerment and comes forward as a savior of women’s rights. However, she was a close friend of Harvey Weinstein and took money from him for her campaign. She took an awfully long time to give support to those women who were coming forward and has still kept the money given to her by ‘Dirty Harvey.’
In conclusion, let’s not get excited by the symbolism shown on TVs. Be a true altruist and work towards the upliftment of women. Start in your own community. Maybe, you can help emancipate women in your area who are battered or enslaved for trafficking. Maybe, you can call the toll free number 800.656.HOPE to report an abuse. Instead of getting impressed by the opportunists on TV, we should be of service to others in need. Remember, “Duty is performed without external gain anticipated at the time of the act.”