Recently saw an article written on Facebook by an atheist from Kerala, India, probably in response to allegation of sexism in presentations in atheist meetings in my state. This is in form of an imaginary dialogue with his daughter who has been brought up in a liberal way. He starts this dialogue about real and phantom patriarchy while watching a veiled Muslim girl of his daughter’s age passes by. He equates feminists to post modernists so that the attack is easier. He writes :
In that fantasy world of subtle conspiracies, the battle continues as patriarchy exists in all its subtle forms which occasionally find their expression in comments or jokes or speeches of even the ‘so-called’ liberals. For those imaginary crusaders, it is sexism everywhere trying to discipline the female body. Modernity and its institutions, for them, are nothing but another form of converting the woman’s body into a ‘docile body’.
It is Quixotic battle you are trying to wage against ‘phantom patriarchy’ (to borrow the words of feminist scholar Christina Hoff Sommers), my dear daughter, I tell her (in the imaginary conversation, of course). I tell her I have attended academic seminars on college and university campuses (safe, liberated zones) where feminists have been found fiercely battling for the right of women to be inside the veil, pretending that the veil is just a cultural expression of women in a culture, and not imposed by the patriarchal religion. I tell her, in that fantasy exchange, that real patriarchy is out there, in flesh and blood, threatening to undermine her freedom, subjugate her, make her docile, keep her humiliated, train her to see her body as objectionable. Beware, I tell my dear daughter, of those real merchants of patriarchy who will, given a chance, bulldoze her into total submission. Please, I beseech my daughter, don’t waste your time chasing phantoms because phantoms are easier to chase and prevail upon. Instead, you should express your solidarity with the real victims of patriarchy who are amidst us all, I suggest to her in that imaginary engagement.
Father teaching daughter what is real and unreal patriarchy ? Nice !
This reminded me about that infamous Dear Muslima letter. This also made me think about Hindutva ideologues reminding freedom of expression activists in India to imagine what will happen if they are in Pakistan or Saudi Arabia.
Yes, some have privilege delusion. They are also deluded enough to believe that without religion there is no gender based oppression.