A Boy

I met a boy once, who told me he had been
called soft-patriarchal by a girl
on the internet. He told me he wanted
to think it through, so he refrained from
defending himself in the comment box.
I am usually uninterested in men’s journeys
of feminist enlightenment, so I barely
encourage such conversations.
Despite that, I often find them eager to tell me.
They seem to be on a quest
to convince me they are better than
most men. He seemed to be one such
boy. His eyelashes thicker than an infant’s.
He continued with the story. I shifted
my gaze to his mouth. He told me
he was calling out privileged women,
women who take the limelight from
the ones who deserve it, who are
unaware of ground realities of
other women.

It was the usual, expected line of argument. I believe
he used the term savarna feminism.
I wanted to ask what he really meant by
privileged women? For privilege
with woman seemed like an oxymoron
to me. For I was certain, even the most
privileged of women according to his
standards, would’ve been subjected
to some form of gender discrimination.

But I did not ask. It would extend this
conversation. Worse, it would mean
I was showing interest in something
worthless: men’s opinion of women.
I suggested we talk about something else
and he instinctively asked, “Aren’t you a feminist?”
“Is it imperative for one
to engage in such conversations?” I countered.
“I guess not,” he replied. Hereafter,
we had an unpleasant air around us
until we parted. I found it funny that
one defenceless moment on the internet
would lead a man to serially defend himself to the women he meets.

Did you think I was the only one
who listened to this uneventful story?
I don’t like to harbour disbeliefs, such
eloquence of storytelling comes from
repetition. In all likelihood, he’d disagree
with how I have presented him. You see
I already admitted I was incurious,
so I might have drifted in my own
thoughts, not heard him properly,
not caught his tones. I’d concede.
I understand, how someone says
something makes all the difference.

I met a boy once, who told me
he’d loved all the woman he’d been with
But he said it with such passion
that it sounded like
he had hated all the women he’d been with.

Srishti Walia is a PhD scholar in Cinema Studies at JNU.

Featured image credit: James Henderson /Pixabay