Mehbooba Mufti, the former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, is one of many Muslim women who present a unique rebuttal to the dogma of feminism. Through her politics, she seeks to empower the most toxic men within the Kashmiri Muslim community who, in turn, subjugate and oppress the women in their society.
Her entire political career revolves around promoting an ideology the success of which will inevitably lead to the subjugation of women and relegating them to the status of second class citizens. Feminism explains away these inherent contradictions by suggesting that such women are ‘Agents of Patriarchy’. However, if Mufti was indeed an agent of patriarchy, then why is it that she hasn’t been criticized at all by feminists for her implicit support to radical Islam? Something does seem amiss here.
Recently, she had urged the Central government to hold talks with the Hurriyat, an outfit that is founded upon a very problematic set of ideas. Earlier, she had threatened that the entire country will burn should the Center decide to abolish Articles 35A and 370. When the central government had cracked down on Jamaat-e-Islami, another separatist organization with extremely problematic foundations, Mufti had again lent her vocal support for them.
Does any of it benefit women? Does any of it help combat the entrenched Toxic Masculinity in an Islamic society? Of course not, it only perpetuates the subjugation of women. And yet, Indian feminists have by and large ignored her vociferous support to toxic elements in Kashmir. Why have feminists maintained a stoic silence over the transgressions of an ‘Agent of Patriarchy’? On the contrary, on many occasions, they have actively supported her.
The same can be observed with regards to Mamata Banerjee. The Chief Minister of West Bengal is presiding over a regime where political violence is the norm and murders of political opponents has become extremely normalized. Her rule has robbed mothers of their sons, wives of their husbands, sisters of their brothers. Women have been raped because their husband joined a rival political party. And yet, she is still quite the hero in the liberal camp. Feminists haven’t yet found the time to commiserate with the misery of women whose lives have been destroyed under Mamata Banerjee’s rule. They haven’t treated her as an ‘Agent of Patriarchy’, have they?
The newfound hero in the Liberal world is Mahua Moitra, a Member of Parliament from Trinamool Congress. Apart from being an elected representative from Mamata Banerjee’s party, she was accused of assaulting a female constable at the Silchar Airport in Assam. She also once showed Arnab Goswami the middle finger on live television. And yet, she hasn’t been treated as an ‘Agent of Patriarchy’. She is a Feminist Hero.
There is an overabundance of such people. Hillary Clinton, who was accused of silencing the victims her husband raped, still continues to be a beacon for feminists. Shehla Rashid, who is great pals with Kanhaiya Kumar, who once flashed his penis at a woman for protesting against his urinating in public, has faced no flak for it. Rashid’s politics, like Mufti’s, directly helps those who wish to subjugate women. A poet of a pedestrian nature had defended her friend initially after his sexual perversions were exposed. Though she issued an apology later on, that she has hardly faced any consequences does reveal a lot about the Feminist movement.
Thus, in light of their own conduct, it begs the question, are feminists themselves ‘Agents of Patriarchy’? If Toxic Masculinity is the basis for Toxic forms of Patriarchy, is Feminism, then, founded upon the foundations of Toxic Femininity? If indeed that is the case, it makes perfect sense why female politicians such as Mehbooba Mufti and Mamata Banerjee have suffered no consequences at all for promoting and sustaining a culture which subjugates women and often, destroys their lives. It also makes sense why the feminist camp has an overabundance of Toxic Men. Toxic Femininity and Toxic Masculinity, of course, should be expected to make for perfect bedfellows.
Consider, on the other hand, the treatment Smriti Irani has received. A woman married to a person from a religious minority defeats a ‘Janeudhari Brahmin’ from one of the most powerful families of India since independence in his own den. Feminists should have hailed it as a great victory against Patriarchy. And yet, the only thing Irani has ever received from that camp is mockery and ridicule despite her stellar achievements.
Therefore, in light of their own conduct, we have to consider certain possibilities. Feminism, like Patriarchy, is a means toward the acquisition of power. It has very little to do with the welfare of women as is evidenced by the kind of female politicians feminists support. More fundamentally, there appears to be very little difference between feminist heroes and the Patriarchal ones they claim to oppose. Thus, essentially, it is a power struggle using the guise of women empowerment.