On Hindu Feminism: An Inconsistency in Conscience

Introduction

Hindu feminism is the discreet belief that Dharma is inadequate, that Hinduism is unable to rectify the qualitative concerns of Hindu women, and men. If Hindu feminists say that Dharma is fully adequate, then they are articulating an inherent contradiction. If Dharma is fully adequate, then there is no need to incorporate an externality to rectify qualitative concerns that may be held by Hindus at large. However, incorporating into Dharma an externality whose Dharmic credential has yet to be established, the burden of which rests on Hindu feminists who may say that Dharma is still fully adequate, still signifies the legitimacy of the original premise, that Hindu feminism is the discreet belief that Dharma is inadequate.

In this sense, the development that is Hindu feminism not only compromises the longingly held belief in the sublimity of Dharma but also plants the seeds of unneeded fragmentation, with the latter leading to either the conscious or unconscious and direct or indirect militating against pro-Hindu vital systems. In other words, Hindu feminism is fallacious because it circularly reasons the legitimacy of an inherent contradiction all the while compromising Dharma and exacerbating an already fragmented pro-Hindu support base. It is with this concern in mind—to promote pro-Hindu vital systems through processes that enact and anticipate interactional-stability among concerned Hindus—that this essay positions Hindu feminism as an unnecessary development (i.e., an inconsistency in conscience).

To position Hindu feminism as an unnecessary development would obviously benefit from explaining why this indeed is the case when seeking to enact—full-scale—interactional-stability among concerned Hindus. Therefore, the first part of this essay will configure feminism within its correct theoretical-political context; and as is the norm with most analyses that involve Hindu women, provided is a section exposing the myth of the oppressed Hindu woman. This section details specifically why Hindu women rooted in pro-Hindu family structures are largely unresponsive to feminism, because of which feminism lacks the universal relevance required to legitimate its incorporation. And to conclude this essay, the concept of interactional-stability will be elaborated so a pro-Hindu framework that assists in promoting pro-Hindu vital systems can at least be hinted upon.

As a precaution, the understanding and subsequent internalizing of the points brought up within this essay, hopefully by proud Hindus who may self-describe and self-identify as Hindu feminists, rests not on the absurd—and ad-hominem—rebuke of an obviously imagined ‘intellectual prose’ seeking to intimidate Hindu feminists away from having fruitful dialogue with their non-feminist, concerned Hindu counterparts. On the contrary, it rests primarily on non-ideological, analytical, and patient contemplating of the points that are discussed. Hopefully, criticism of this essay is born from having read it comprehensively instead of having reflexively dismissed it outright due to it exposing a fanatically cherished, secularized idol of the age.

Extrapolation of Theory

How many of the most vocal, pro-Dharmic Hindu feminists know that the very Marxists, Naxalites, and Communists whom they fervently take on, almost on a daily basis, in their primarily Internet-based defense of Hinduism and Hindu society, are paternally related to feminism? How many of them know that feminism is a Marxian meme of usurpation, and an ideological rupturing of traditionalism? Not many self-described and self-identified Hindu feminists are aware of these…congruencies. And neither are many of them able to entertain the reality that what they support or espouse is a Marxian meme of usurpation—born to militate against Dharma. This section, which is titled “Extrapolation of Theory,” shows the inseparability of feminism and Marxist theory. And the ignorance of this inseparability is an inconsistency in conscience.

Despite the numerous disagreements surrounding Hindu feminists and their traditionalist counterparts, it would not be possible to demonstrate the Marxian framework of feminism without including Marxist theory. Hopefully, this demonstration can at least get Hindu feminists to reconsider the Marxian framework they either consciously or unconsciously support—most likely out of an inherent desire to uncritically sympathize with liberation paradigms—and develop an interactional-stable response that encourages them to work with non-feminist Hindus in defending Dharma against anti-Dharmic encroachments. After all, Dharma is supposed to unite; yet this discursive, Marxian development keeps fracturing the potential prospects for unity among Hindus that is now pressingly needed.

Feminism represents a Marxian framework. Feminism represents a Marxian framework in that it slightly revises the Marxist view of history of class conflict, replacing it with the clash of genders (Wright, 1993). History, in this sense, is nothing but the clash between men and women. The former have oppressed the latter. Therefore, the feminist view of history as a philosophical view of the Marxist type is simplified to a rigid binary. History outside of this framework is not representative of reality, nor does it represent historical truth. History is only the clash of genders. To rephrase, for feminism to be rooted in Marxist theory it must exemplify the pattern of the absolute historical view that is so heavily ingrained in Marxist thought. History is nothing but the clash of classes is Marxism at it is most colloquial; similarly, history is nothing but the struggle between men and women—with the latter being historically, and thus repeatedly, oppressed by the former—is feminism.

Feminism, like Marxism, is an emancipatory theory (Wright, 1993). Meaning, the adherents of feminism seek out traditional processes and designs that are considered to be oppressive. The elimination of traditional processes and designs is systematic, and is advanced deterministically—which may explain the proneness of feminists to mimic ideological determination when systematically eliminating perceived structural forms incessantly criticized as oppressive. Wherever usurpation memes have taken emancipatory theoretical forms, as critique obsessed with perceiving or imagining oppression, they have taken a cultural turn, militantly going after both family and religious setups (Buraway, 2000). Nowhere has this been more prominent than in the Marxist retreat from economics to academia in the form of postmodernism and its deconstructionist onslaught on sociocultural realms.

Whenever Hindu feminists deterministically march congruently with this emancipatory vanguard that is cultural criticism, they support that same anti-Hindu deconstructionism which has listed Lord Ganesha’s trunk as a limp phallus; Indian Hindu mothers inferior to Western mothers; the character of Draupadi being inspired by Indians encountering Greek women rather than being solely an indigenous ingenuity; Goddess Kali is the mother with a penis; and so on (as these examples are very real “academic insights,” consult Invading the Sacred and “The Myth of an ‘Alternative History’” in Rearming Hinduism as cursory introductions to “academic” discursions often “academically” encouraged). To put this as simply as possible, “I am a Hindu feminist” is but a short, deconstructive distance from “Lord Ganesha’s trunk is a limp phallus.” And that is inconsistency in conscience: the supporting of a system context whose operational rupturing of things longingly held by those who presumably wish to continue experiencing the very things that are systematically sought to no longer be longingly held.

The Myth of the Oppressed Hindu Woman

Feminism is a Western-liberal universality. Feminism is a Western-liberal universality, and like all Western-liberal universalities it is disingenuous. An absolute view of history seeks to represent universal morality norms of human beings, and feminism is a Western interpretation grounded in new liberalism that professes universal application in conjunction with human rights.

As Skirbekk (2005) points out, while detailing new liberalism as an ideology related to myth and belief, “there is something disingenuous about the claim that Western interpretations of human rights represent universal morality norms for human beings” (p. 73). When Western-liberal universalities are applied as externalities under the assumption of them having universal relevance on internalities, “a Western form of individual morality has an adverse moral effect on circumstances” in those societies (Skirbekk, 2005, p. 74). In other words, to implement feminism through the development of Hindu feminism as a method that leads to the “idealization of individual freedom, without a concomitant restraint of the outgrowths of this freedom, is in itself immoral” (Skirbekk, 2005, p. 74). To incorporate an externality with very little, if not zero, universal relevance would risk “legitimizing dysfunctional forms of adjustment” (Skirbekk, 2005, p. 74). Feminism lacking universal relevance, making the development of Hindu feminism to address qualitative concerns of the “oppressed” Hindu woman as unnecessary, is better understood when attempting to answer the question if feminism has universal relevance.

In her attempt to answer the question if feminism has universal relevance, Menon (2000) makes it a point to start off by first stating that “feminist activists working in India today are both troubled and puzzled by their apparent inability to mobilize Hindu women” (p. 77). While obviously unsympathetic toward both the Hindu Right and Indian nationalists, she nevertheless suggests “that feminists working in India find themselves out of touch with ordinary Hindu women because they offer very little in terms of message and meaning that resonates with the lived experience of these women” (Menon, 2000, p. 77). Indeed, feminism is “so particular a product of Western social and intellectual history,” and does not have universal relevance, but “it appears quite alien to Hindu women who live within another, equally elaborated moral order that cherishes self-control, self-refinement, and duty to the family” (Menon, 2000, pp. 77–78).

Menon’s suggestion is an inroad into first tackling a common Leftist-feminist assertion that Hindu women are oppressed, by default, for belonging to both Hindu society and Hinduism. While she does not specifically position her suggestion in this manner, it is critical enough in that it acknowledges the myth of the oppressed Hindu woman, and sufficiently counters it. First, Menon (2000) details that “expositions on the Hindu woman as victim continue to appear with remarkable regularity” when she describes the Hindu woman subjected under the feminist gaze (p. 79). But while anti-Hindu criticism that positions the Hindu woman as victim continues in its regularity, do Hindu women, at large, really see themselves as victims of Hinduism?

The answer is no: “Feminist activists fail to appreciate the fact that the large majority of Hindu women do not perceive themselves as victims of systemic gender inequities” (Menon, 2000, p. 80). Furthermore, Hindu women “would readily acknowledge that some women, sometimes, face difficulties in their lives, but such situations, they believe, are ameliorated through the actions of individual women and their family members,” and thus “they do not require any kind of substantial, gender-wide mobilization” (Menon, 2000, p. 80). Hindu women at large not only find no relevance in feminism, and thus no need to subscribe to the development that is Hindu feminism, but they also do not believe the victimhood narrative so regularly circulated: When tackling the question as to why Hindu women tend not to believe that they are victims of a purportedly overarching Hindu patriarchy, Menon (2000) answers that it is because of “the substantial sense of self-worth that Hindu women derive as valued and full-fledged members of their extended families” (p. 80).

Parallel to criticisms commonly directed at feminism in Western societies, feminism is received by “oppressed” Hindu women as a systematic focusing that “attempts to challenge and dismantle family structures,” failing to “recognize and acknowledge the importance of the family,” as viewed by Hindu women who are unresponsive to feminist activism (Menon, 2000, p. 78). Does this apply to Hindu women from different castes? Menon suggests that it does even though she specifies that when she speaks of Hindu women, at least in her case study, she is mostly referring to those of upper-caste backgrounds: While lower-caste Hindu women “are not expected to follow Brahmanical practice…lower castes claim higher ritual status” when incorporating customs largely found among upper-caste communities (Menon, 2000, p. 78). The substantial sense of self-worth that Hindu women experience regardless of their caste affiliation is quite strong: Hindu women at large occupy family roles “as they mature and age,” which “provide them with the deepest sense of who they are as persons” (Menon, 2000, p. 78). Feminists critical of Hindu society, unresponsive Hindu women, and Hinduism, not only do not “recognize and acknowledge the importance of the family in these women’s lives,” but they also choose to ignore the fact that these family roles, which Hindu women at large occupy, are of utmost criticality (Menon, 2000, p. 78).

The feminist liberation meme, so secularly-theologically particular to philosophies of history of the Marxist type, “would puzzle most Hindus, men and women,” and “they would see it as narcissistic, in some ways deeply immoral, and ultimately futile, because they believe that the experiencing self does not exist apart from its connections with others,” or rather other Hindu men and women (Menon, 2000, p. 79). Yet self-described and self-identified Hindu feminists, as discussed earlier, are largely unable to entertain the fact that what they endearingly support is not only a Marxian meme of usurpation, and detached from socio-epistemological facets so pertinent in the lives of Hindu women at large, but an externality that bears almost zero criticality to these Hindu women. In other words, Hindu feminism is both unnecessary and characterizes the interactional-instability of the taxonomy that can be defined as concerned Hindus.

Interactional-Stability

Interactional-stability is an elementary concept in business management. The wording may be different whenever and wherever the concept is articulated but its theme is pervasive. Interactional-stability captures the importance of reciprocity: The identification of reciprocity is enacted or anticipated to build shared understandings in order to actualize an organization’s vision (Chuang, Hsu, Wang, & Judge, 2015). It operates on a person-environment binary to enact an effective fit that maximizes the operational efficiency of an organization (Chuang et al., 2015). The goal, like those associated with most elementary business management concepts, is to improve the functionality of an organization (Chuang et al., 2015).

In the context of concerned Hindus, the establishing of interactional-stability is to promote pro-Hindu vital systems. The goal is to better the condition of Hindus, decrease external-organizational hindrances that predate upon Hindu cohesiveness, and normalize full-scale Hindu engagement in the defense of Dharma that consistently prioritizes the safety and security of Hindus across India. The incorporating of feminism, and other Marxian memes of usurpation, into Dharma is to militate against pro-Hindu vital systems and, by default, represents interactional-instability.

Hindu men and women can benefit from cultivating competencies that help in realizing anti-Hindu externalities from pro-Hindu internalities. To clarify, Hindus must constantly explore, promote, and establish pro-Hindu methods that consistently prioritize internal, indigenous, and Hindu-theological vital systems with harmonious accord. Incorporating feminism into Dharma through the development that is Hindu feminism is, in stark contrast, anti-vitalistic militation against the cultivation of pro-Hindu, vitalistic competencies. It has and will continue to fragment Hindus across India like how the lack of decision-making protocols that prioritize Hindu concerns to tackle the proneness of Hindus to engage in internecine conflict often results in Hindu disunity and estrangement.


Burawoy, M. (2000). Marxism after Communism. Theory and Society, 29(2), 151–174. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/3108567

Chuang, A., Hsu, R., Wang, A., & Judge, T. (2015). Does West “fit” with East? In search of a Chinese model of person-environment fit. Academy of Management Journal, 58(2), 480–510. http://dx.doi.org/10.5465/amj.2012.1076

Menon, U. (2000). Does feminism have universal relevance? The challenges posed by Oriya Hindu family practices. Daedalus, 129(4), 77–99. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/20027665

Skirbekk, S. (2005). Dysfunctional culture: The inadequacy of cultural liberalism as a guide to major challenges of the 21st century. Lanham, MD: University Press of America.

Wright, E. (1993). Explanation and emancipation in Marxism and feminism. Sociological Theory, 11(1), 39–54. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/201979

 

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