‘Hysteria’: Of Feminism, Gender Equality And The Collective Outrage Against Patriarchy

Posted on November 28, 2014 in Gender-Based Violence, Society, Taboos

By Prerana Y.S.K:

In India, a woman is raped every 32 minutes.
A minor girl is abducted every 36 minutes.
A girl is trafficked every 46 minutes.
A woman is sexually harassed every 12 minutes.
21 women are murdered every day.

And this is the why feminism is called ‘feminism’ and not ‘humanism’ or ‘penises have been oppressed for too long now’, dear Men’s Rights Activists. Because women have been oppressed for so long that they are a symbol of oppression, and that’s what the “fem” in feminism refers to.

hysteri by eye art collective

Globally, and on Youth Ki Awaaz, feminism has been a recurring theme and a rather controversial one. Some people seem to be of the opinion that feminism propagates women to take up a violent duel with men, and sadly, that might even be true if you keep calling us ‘bra burning and men hating feminazis’.

Being a feminist, I’d like to clear the air and state that feminism seeks gender equality and not the overthrowing and domination of a certain gender, unlike the men’s rights activism; go to Wikipedia, and you’ve got your proof, more so because Wikipedia is written and articulated by the common people themselves.

Actually, I firmly believe that feminism is the only solution to gender justice and it’s not about men or women only but the entire spectrum of gender and sexes; One cannot limit feminism to the empowerment of women, yes, but one cannot refuse the fact that upliftment of women and the LGBTQ community is a basic necessity for our society to achieve gender equality.

Afterall, how many men are burnt in dowry deaths? How many men are permitted to emote outside their loos? How many bisexuals are considered ‘legitimate’?

Also, as the famous feminist Jessica Valenti often keeps reiterating, “Feminism isn’t simply about being a woman in a position of power. It’s battling systemic inequities; it’s a social justice movement that believes sexism, racism and classism exist and interconnect, and that they should be consistently challenged”.

Observing an ideology similar to Valenti’s, an independent arts collective -Eye – which is also anti-establishment, queer positive, and anti racist, has come up with a feminist convention called Hysteria to initiate a healthy and intellectual conversation about feminism on a public forum in India.

It is a rather revolutionary concept and ideology; its primary aim is to make its audience – be they curious, concerned, or indifferent – question the world they inhabit, and the rules that govern it.

By extension, they hope to make their audience question themselves.

This is exactly what is needed in today’s dogmatic and hypocritical world which seems to be suffering from ‘pseudo-intellectual diarrhoea’.

When asked why the team behind Hysteria had opted for the name ‘Hysteria’, Manisha Ganguly, Co-Creator of Hysteria and Eye, replied- “Inherently patriarchal, the concept of hysteria as a mental illness was created to restrict independent feminine spirit, and conform women to the set stereotype of domesticity and docility. We wanted to obliterate the relation to this fictional “feminine” mental illness, reclaim the word from oppressive patriarchal connotations, and through it, expose the desperate attempt made by patriarchy to control and stigmatize independent spirit, and prevent the development of the feminist movement”.

They further explained “By reclaiming this word as feminist, we are in essence, raging against the patriarchy and no longer look upon this word as an insult, but as a pathology that speaks to and against the patriarchy. Secondly, we also wish to redeem the frenzy as something far from chaotic madness. Hysteria, to us, is the frenzy of an uprising that is a deliberate attack on the patriarchy; an attack that speaks out against gender discrimination, and gender violence, and works methodically to expose and demolish patriarchal machinery in everyday life”.

As a consumer of their ideology, the complex cognitive processes behind this nomenclature surprise me and lead me to further believe in the legitimacy of their cause and convictions.

Keeping their ideologies and the need of contemporary India in mind, the convention tries to launch dialogue on themes such as the male gaze in cinema and art, rape culture and the patriarchy, fascism in the Indian context, gender, queer theory and LGBTQ rights, sexual harassment at work, etc.

These are very pressing themes in India which need to be overtly and overly debated and deliberated upon so as to reach a mutually beneficial and equally worthy conclusion.

Further, volunteers at Eye believe in artivism – a beautiful amalgamation of art and activism, and in today’s world, where creativity as a medium has been bound to experiential schools and youth of Kolkata, it’s an innovative move to club social welfare with creative outlets of the members of the society, eventually leading to a more erudite society.

Personally, this revolutionary feminist convention comes across as India’s kick-start towards tackling our ignorance and inexperience with regard to the taboo theme of gender, sexuality and equality for all.

I have suffered the brunt of our society’s sexism and repetitive stereotyping on a daily basis: ‘Why’d you crop your hair short? Are you gay? Do you want to get raped, why go out after 9:30pm? This lake is not for women; please go back to your posh locality. Stop being so tough, you tomboy! You have a thing for that guy? He’s so gay, though!’.

Argh.

I really need these dull witted and imbecile comments to stop, and right now, Hysteria seems like a stepping stone to better our vapid society.

“Our convention is open to all who are victims of gender oppression, such as sexism, misogyny, trans misogyny, cissexism, transphobia and binarism. We seek to empower and liberate everyone targeted by the patriarchy and the kyriarchy. If this applies to you, you are welcome as long as you act in accordance with our safer spaces policy,” said Aranya Gupta, Co-Creator of Hysteria and Eye, and Manisha’s partner in crime.

And if you are, well, go ahead and be a part of this collective outrage against the inertia of Patriarchal Oppression!

Click here to know more about Hysteria, or help out with their cause.

Donate here, because they’re all young and penniless (like us).

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