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Of Sexual Parasitism, Anglerfishes, And Marx: A Case For Why Men Need Feminism

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By Prashant Garg:

As sea exploration progressed and we began to understand sea life, scientists came across Anglerfishes. During their exploration, they were faced with this extraordinary situation where all the captured specimens were females. The search for the male Anglerfish began. Before we explore this issue further, let us understand feminism in our times.

anglerfish feminism

Taking on Karl Marx’s theory of alienation, the separation of things that naturally belong together eventually leads to mutual antagonism. With time, one party is subjugated and the other party assumes a commanding position. This produces a feeling of discontent in the minds of the subjugated, eventually leading to alienation. In Marx’s world, the final stage comes in the form of a revolution, often militant, which establishes a new world order. Feminism can be seen evolving under a similar paradigm.

We can invoke the utopian past where gender equality was the norm and idealize it. But evidences to that effect are few, also the texts have gone through countless revisions and rewritten over a period of millennia. One might even take it all as a hangover of the type: “everything was better when everything was worse.” Yet, what one needs is a focus on the present scenario. Over the past 50 years, the idea of feminism has gained momentum and gender equality has become the buzzword. It had its genesis in the separation of males and females, which naturally belong together, into two groups where male domination exploited females in various forms with varying degrees across humanity. Eventually, the alienation developed, and with education the subjugated found their voice. Feminist groups launched campaigns of empowerment. They have achieved some success, yet the discrimination and suppression continues. Ranging from the ‘glass ceiling’ phenomenon in the corporate world to patriarchal mindsets at home, we have reached a point where a group equally aware of its rights and potentials is being held back by a group which does not know its limitations. The situation is akin to a pressure cooker where the lid of ‘male superiority’ is trying to control the steam of ‘female aspirations’. Eventually, the steam grows out of control blasting the cooker as well as the lid. This is not to suggest that feminist groups will take over males through militancy, rather this will lead to extreme form of feminism where feminism will mean indifference towards the males.

Let us go back to Anglerfish to understand this. Where are the male Anglerfishes? When scientists analyzed female Anglerfishes, they realized that almost all of them had some parasites attached to them. Further study made it clear that these parasites were highly reduced male Anglerfishes. It was a case of extreme sexual dimorphism where considerably smaller males never get to mature without parasitizing a female and die if they are unable to find one. Due to their size and lack of mature body system, it becomes difficult for them to find food. To find and mate with a female becomes the only purpose of their lives. Just after birth, male starts looking for the female and bites into her skin as soon as he finds one. Due to enzymes released in this process, the mouth of the male gets fused with the skin of the female. Thereafter, the male becomes dependent on the female host.

The evolutionary explanation provided to explain such sexual parasitism is rooted in ‘Resource Constraint’ at deep sea conditions. The resource poor environment forces females to develop specialized features on one hand and males to shrink to reduce metabolic costs on the other. When nature induced constraints can force two groups to adapt in such an extreme way, we need to ask ourselves what can happen when one group, in its ignorance, knowingly imposes restrictions on the other group?

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  1. someone

    I am waiting for Babar to come with his right wing propaganda. 🙂

    Anti-women, Anti-LGBT and Pro-Islamic propaganda. 😀

  2. Gaurav

    karl marx wrote about socialism. not feminism, labour and its relation to capital and not men and how they relate to women.

    feminism is not about equality, at least on the ground level feminism is about the female perspective only, the aspect where we talk about both men and women is called humanism, where gender is not a parameter and where the truth is all that matters.

    1. An In-Your-Face Liberal

      Humanism: Humanism is a philosophical and ethical stance that emphasizes the value and agency of human beings, individually and collectively, and generally prefers critical thinking and evidence (rationalism, empiricism) over established doctrine or faith (fideism).
      Marxist-Feminism: Marxist feminism is a branch of feminism focused on investigating and explaining the ways in which women are oppressed through systems of capitalism and private property.

  3. Templetwins

    The feminist perspective of history is flawed and one-sided to begin with, they explore history in ways how it affects women and women alone. It ignores the plight of men as they characterize them as oppressors, the enemy. They talk a lot about the glass ceiling but often ignores about the glass cellar which is filled with men too, working jobs like cleaning the septic tank.
    The pre-existing gender roles were detrimental to the rights of men as well but the current wave of feminism with its one-sided policies created more issues for men, in order to empower women. The power imbalance would be restored in a different way as men are withdrawing from plantation, as more men walk away from this gynocentric society withdrawing their usefulness to women and the society right from the grass-eating men from Japan to the MGTOWS of the western countries, then perhaps then the parasite would change its behavior. It would be forced to.

  4. kino

    Any conformist approach be it to terminologies or activities is actually making us indifferent because we are spending most of our energy in defending the ‘tools’ we have developed with time to understand issues, issues which were to be addressed. We are in strict defence mode, forget addressing, even understanding is a far away story. It is right “everything was better when everything was worse”. Indifference is worse than what we now have. Gmtows n like are the onset of this indifference which is not merely gender specific but encompasses every happening around. Let us not dodge to confront the ‘Blood Diamond’ rhetoric on us “…good things are done everyday just apparently not by you!”

  5. ItsJustMe

    Does feminism aim at removing gender as such? One of the famous feminist Judith Butler (not like the radical ones, who are taking over the social media these) shares her intentions with her own version of feminism. Although a very noble idea, taking away gender is what feminism is currently pursuing around the world. The idea feminists around the world are trying to put forward is kind of selective similarity to male gender. They claim that men and women and their respective brains and physiology function similarly when it comes to things in which men are observed to be better. Which is acceptable even though it is a false propaganda. It aims at giving women better opportunities to improve their skills and abilities in respective areas. Examples of these can be seen when feminists say women soldiers are as effective as male soldiers, or that women are can do dangerous jobs as well as men do. Commendable approach to empower women to go ahead and pursue careers in army. But when it comes to things like rape, they are always quick to point out how rape is majorly caused by men, violence is majorly caused by men, most crimes are caused by men. How can these writers have the audacity to tell men that feminism is what they need? So that they would feel bad about themselves for being born a male? So that they get the sick idea that men need to taught not to rape? (The popular feminist initiative in campuses of USA). If they tried to teach black men not to steal, it would be extremely racist. If they tried to teach muslim youths not to bomb, it would be communal. If they teach young men not to rape, it is gender empowerment. What the hell is wrong with these rectums?

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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