To Agree or to Disagree!

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As the human brain started evolving, new thought processes started getting evolved too. A few centuries back, only the “intellectuals” would write about various thoughts and theories and this process was limited to a very few people. There were reasons. The thought process did not spread much due to nonavailability of technology and printing was not very easy and was expensive. Circulating hand-written stuff to a large number of people was difficult. When people disagreed on somethings, they simply fought and sometimes killed. The majority of the people stopped interacting with intellectuals, who wrote about things, about which most disagreed. 

Technology has changed a lot in the last hundred years, which helped people to disagree vocally or in writing instead of taking extreme steps. The development has helped in the spread of thought or knowledge much quicker than the olden days. In the last 15 to 20 years, the technology galloped at a breakneck speed. People could share their thoughts with others electronically, privately as well in public. I am talking of WhatsApp groups, Facebook and Blogging. These technological changes have made things more comfortable, and now writing the thoughts or expressing views has not remained the domain of intellectuals. You and I can say things, write about anything under the Sun. We can share our experiences easily; we can share our experiences, our knowledge and even some new theories or thoughts with the world.  

In this scenario, since it has become easy to write and publish, it has also become easy to make comments on such writings or disagree on the writings of others. Twitter is classic example of briefly writing about something; if you are famous and have a lot of followers, there will be instantaneous comments and rebuttals.  

If we’re all going to be disagreeing more, we should be careful to do it sensibly. What does it mean to disagree well? Most can tell the difference between mere name-calling and a carefully reasoned refutation, but I think it would help to put names on the intermediate stages of disagreement. So let me attempt to make a disagreement hierarchy. 

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Name-Calling, the method for disagreement is quite straight forward and blunt. The method is quite crude. People can and do have difference of opinion on many issues, but instead of doing so in polite or sophisticated way, people will call you Names, they may tend to use bad words. Is it necessary to be crass? But some people are born that way and behave in such ways in other aspects of life too!  

Ad hominem is a word typically refers to a fallacious argumentative strategy whereby genuine discussion of the topic at hand is avoided, by attacking the character, motive, or other attributes of the person making the argument. The persons associated with the discussion is attacked, rather than attacking the substance of the case itself. The terms ad mulierem and ad feminam have been explicitly used when the person receiving the criticism is female. Probably it is a form of misogyny or malchauvinism. 

 In some form of criticism, people tend to be judgmental about the tone of writing. When one writes something, it is the right thing to comment about the writing rather than the way what is written. But this criticism is better than the first two methods discussed above. 

The contradiction is the stage, where we finally get responses to what was said, rather than how or by whom. The lowest form of response to an argument is to state the opposing case, with little or no supporting evidence. The method is still the only contradiction rather than arguing why one wants to contradict. 

Contradiction can sometimes have some weight. Sometimes seeing the opposing case stated explicitly is enough to know that it’s right. But usually, evidence will help. 

The writer can ignore these types of methods because they do not offer any constructive criticism. These methods may indicate a different viewpoint, but it will be difficult to judge what the argument is about. 

The counterargument is contradiction plus reasoning and evidence. When aimed directly at the original case, it can be convincing. But unfortunately, it’s common for counterarguments to be aimed at something slightly different. More often than not, two people arguing passionately about something are arguing about two different things. Sometimes they even agree with one another but are so caught up in their squabble they don’t realise it. 

There could be a legitimate reason for arguing against something slightly different from what the original author said: when you feel they missed the heart of the matter. But when you do that, you should say you’re doing it. But one also should not forget that the original author may mean something different than what you are arguing.  

Refutation is the action of proving a statement or theory to be wrong or false. The most convincing form of disagreement is a refutation. It’s also the rarest because it requires the most efforts, it needs to study and have knowledge about the subjectHence, we will see that this method of argument is sporadic 

To refute someone, you probably have to quote them. You have to find a specific passage in whatever you disagree with that you feel is mistaken, and then explain why it’s inaccurateWithout pinpointing the details, we will be back to square one where the argument is vague or maybe crass. 

But some people are mistaken that by quoting parts from the writing, they are refuting something. But without substantiating an argument, simply quoting has no meaning. 

The most potent form of argument is refuting the central idea of the writing.  

Truly refuting something requires one to refute its central point or at least one of them. And that means one has to commit explicitly to what the central point is. So a truly effective refutation would look like the writing below. 

I disagree with your basic idea “xxxxx yyyyy” for the reasons given below. I disagree because of the following points.  

You will wonder why I have tried to classify the arguments and create a hierarchy! It is simply done to describe the way your writings may get thrashed, sometimes by methods like namecalling. But sometimes you will be lucky enough to get great feedback from a knowledgeable person who could improve your thoughts and writing. Criticism is the best way for improvement in life if done constructively. 

In Marathi, there is a saying, “निंदकाचे घर असावे शेजारी”  which means that it is good to have your critic as your neighbour! Various criticisms will teach us how to handle life in general. It is not only about ones writings, but it could be about your decisions, your acts, your behaviour. Done constructively, there is no better teacher than your critic!  

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Misogyny!

Misogyny

 

Misogyny is the hatred of, contempt for, or prejudice against women or girls. Misogyny is manifest in numerous ways, including social exclusion, sex discrimination, hostility, androcentrism, patriarchy, male privilege, belittling of women, violence against women, and sexual objectification. Misogyny can be found within sacred texts of religions, mythologies. Why this thought process exists is very simple to judge. Nature has created humans as males and females; females have been given a very important job of giving birth to children. The science of childbearing and giving birth has made the male and female bodies differently, with women’s bodies between certain age are made ready to conceive. In the initial phase of history, the marriages took place even before the girl’s body was ready to conceive and both husband wife hardly knew anything about the birds and the bees.

Over a period, the so-called legal age for marriage went on increasing and now it is theoretically minimum 18 years for girls. The monthly cycles of women, created different thought process in the initial phase of history, but it seems not much has changed even today. The women are supposed to be impure in that phase of their monthly cycle. Many women have difficulty handling menstruation both physically and mentally. Handling this aspect on a practical basis was also very difficult, even 70 years back,  due to lack of knowledge and lack of proven clean methods to handle periods. This led to calling women impure, weak and what have you! Also, during pregnancy and childbirth, women needed to take it easy or sometimes rest, completely! This led to calling and looking at women as weak and inferior individuals. Probably if a male is made to give birth to a child, then he would know who is weak!

I read a news item in today’s Pune newspaper that in a crowded public place, a guy tried to misbehave with a woman. When he was caught and taken to the police station, he said, “Oh, I thought she was a whore!” This is purely a misogynist statement. This is our society’s behaviour with women! Reading the M J Akbar and Sabarimala stories, this is the type of reaction we are getting from men and some women too! These are so-called strong women who think women should have retaliated there and then instead of being crybabies and complaining years after the MeToo event took place.

Many are surprised with the way people from the advanced, highly educated  Kerala are behaving against the Supreme Court Verdict on Sabarimala, not allowing all ladies (including those of menstruating age between 10&50) to visit Ayyappa Mandir. Kerala is the most literate state in India with the literacy rate of 110% (it is jokingly said that 10% are monkeys from Kerala which are also literate!). Many including women have stopped the ladies from entering the Mandir. I am sure most of you are not aware of Kerala’s poor history in sticking to so-called traditions.

The Channar Lahala or Channar revolt, also called Maru Marakkal Samaram, refers to the fight from 1813 to 1859 of Nadar climber women in Travancore kingdom for the right to wear upper-body clothes to cover their breasts. I will not go into too many details but it was a tradition in those days of baring of the chest and shoulders in front of people of higher status and was considered a sign of respect, by both males and females. Only Nair community ladies were allowed to wear blouses but Nadar community, from so-called lower caste, were not allowed to wear them. Uneasy with social status, many Nadars embraced Christianity and started wearing long clothes. Nadar women later started wearing blouses, similar to Nair community. This led to Channar revolt which went on for 40 plus years though British rulers and Royalty from Travancore tried to force this issue.

We are all aware that the humans started with wearing loin cloth made from tree leaves. But the concepts of civil behaviour started evolving too. Wearing clothes was part of this evolution. The Kerala region has been way ahead of other parts of India in literacy and education, from the beginning. But religion and castes superseded the normal thought process in the brain of Keralites too, and the result was Channar Revolt! It was logical that Nadar women should have been allowed to wear blouses.

With this type of thought process, it is not surprising that in the whole of India Misogyny has been the common trait. The basic difference in Me Too and Sabarimala is that at the heart of the matter, is the question of the body. In Sabarimala Case, the celibate body of the lord counterpointed against the “impure” body of the menstruating woman. In Me Too, the sexually entitled body of the male (any male) over the sexually vulnerable and dis-empowered body of the female (any female).

Underlying both conditions is a deep-rooted misogyny, casual in Me Too and customary on the part of Sabarimala. Yet both are two sides of the same patriarchal coin, and both betray such a profound contempt for — or fear of — the female body that they have to either punish it by casting it out or control it by subjugating it.

What these two phenomena have done? Sabarimala has openly said, let us continue with a different kind of untouchability, to hell with the constitution. What MeToo has done is that it has brought out in open, what has been happening for a very long time and one of the dirtiest open secret; some people are already saying that it is an elitist movement but in India the elite and the maid servants are so close on a day to day basis, that this movement will also spread in non-elite strata, thanks to the elite ladies who are leading this revolution.

What MeToo in M J Akbar and other’s case, and the Supreme Court verdict on Sabarimala have done is to unshackle the troublesome business of female sexuality from patriarchal control. MeToo has called male sexual predators to account not simply by naming and shaming, but by refusing to succumb. By not ceding control over their bodies. By rejecting them and registering their revulsion. The Supreme Court verdict, similarly, has called out a discriminatory practice based on a sexual taboo — an unspoken endorsement of different untouchability — and simultaneously challenged male primacy in the matter of worship.

Friends, this sudden loss of power at the hands of women in one instance, and via a judgment on the other, has hit patriarchal privilege bandwagon in an unexpected — and unwelcome — ways. What causes resentment is that it is female sexuality, under patriarchal control all these years, that has upset the apple-cart. The fact that it cannot be used to justify discrimination/untouchability under a different garb, even in a place of worship. In future, it cannot be abused at will and with impunity. The fact that women will no longer fall in line, and or remain silent.

Misogynists of the world, be careful and warned in the future! The ladies brigade and the Indian constitution are now slowly waking up! As far as Kerala is concerned, Sabarimala is only one month and it is early days, compared 40 year plus war of Channar Lahala!