In 1785, at the peak of his performing career in Vienna, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart premiered one of his most acclaimed compositions, Piano Concerto 20, with his visiting father, Leopold Mozart, as the guest of honour. The father-son duo had been estranged for four years, and their relationships had fallen apart on several counts. This visit, and especially this performance, played a significant role in bringing them together.
The concerto, an instant success, was one of the finest examples of coming together of a contradiction of sorts. As the proud father – a virtuoso himself – sat through the performance, he realized that he was witness to a music that defied all convention. The performance started off with an incredible, audacious, and weird opening that is often classified as a “non-tune,” displaying supreme command and confidence of the composer. Move after move, the whole of the First Movement reveals a surprise at every step. It even is intriguing to note that in a “Piano Concerto,” the piano makes a soft, silent entry after several minutes of loud, resounding, assertive music by strings and wind instruments.
This only becomes more prominent in the Second Movement. The Second Movement starts off with a very gentle melody that creates a sense of placing oneself in the arms, in the love of one’s protector, the Father. The lyrical, passionate, tender, and romantic melody paints a picture of peace and harmony between the orchestra and the piano.
Halfway though, a storm sets in. The gentle flow turns turbulent, agitated, and ominous, and we are suddenly in the middle of a nightmare, a tantrum, a huge conflict between the Orchestra and the solo piano, metaphorically between the Father (Leopold Mozart) and the Son (Wolfgang Mozart), neither willing to give way. The light-footed gaiety of the solo piano seems to be interrupted by the commanding tone of the Orchestra, but the piano stands firm. It neither goes away, nor gives in.
The storm arrives abruptly and without a transition, and after a brief turbulence, we are greeted once again with the afore-heard melody that began this Movement. The piece turns light and delicate gradually, till it ends in a whisper.
The piece depicts life, our important relationships, and our significant interactions in their authentic form. Rightly named “Romanze,” meaning “Romance,” the piece depicts the delicate aspects of life co-existing with sudden turbulences that barge in without so much as a forewarning or a transition, and how these contradictions and confrontations add immense beauty to the “Symphony of Life.”
Many of Mozart’s compositions are often laced with such contradictions, a determined confrontation between two characters – between different sets of musical instruments, between lower and higher notes. It is these contradictions and these confrontations that makes Mozart’s music stand out in its elegance and melodic genius.
Constructive confrontation is beautiful
Can confrontation be beautiful?
We know that confrontation gets decidedly ugly when it arises as an outlet for whining, a tool for retribution, a medium for securing one-upmanship, or as a weapon for destroying what exists.
When confrontation arises from a place of honesty, reflecting a sincere desire to hear and need to be heard, a soulful call for mending relationships and to create a new future, it is beautiful.
When feminism as a movement originated, it came as a breath of fresh air. It was an opportunity for the emancipation of women who, in all cultures, had been striving to have ownership of their own existence. Feminism began with the promise of creating a society free of gender stereotypes, that provided equal rights, equal opportunities, and a sense of justice and dignity for women.
It began as the beautiful, constructive, creative confrontation that not only inspired women to stand up for themselves, but forced many conscientious men to wake up and fight for women’s rights.
Like all other well-meaning movements in the world, in little time, feminism fell prey to the toxic venom of leftist wokesters. Empowerment of women soon gave way to assertion of superiority. The fight for equality became a conspiracy to subvert and tilt the equations of power. Rather than claiming and demanding equality, feminists were finding ways to demonize men and have them suffer through law or through social shaming and ostracization.
A fight on behalf of the community soon became a vent of personal venom and hate. The battle for equal opportunities transformed into claims of entitlement.
What started off as “constructive confrontation,” aiming to create a harmony of genders, ended up degenerating into a cacophony of discordant notes. The loud and the popular version of “woke” feminism is more about dismantling institutions, discarding responsibilities, and asserting to be and do whatever an individual wishes, regardless of the individual and the social consequences.
The world turned into an eternal battleground between the “never-wrong” women vs. “always-wrong” men.
Harmony never arises from oneness, nor does it aim to create it. Harmony, by its nature, is a celebration of differences. Harmony is created by blending notes to create a result more pleasing than the sounds of each note individually.
“Let us outrage together”
Nothing brings people together more than a shared sense of having been wronged. Nothing brings people closer than a shared expression of victimhood. Nothing creates a stronger bonding than a shared, synchronized pumping of adrenaline.
A lot of what we see around us in the guise of the “fight for women’s rights” is a concerted effort to pump adrenaline, amplify the sense of victimhood, strengthen the perception of having been wronged, and channel these into never-ending outrage. This immediately converts all nobleness in the cause to a never-ending battle of hate.
It often blurs the fine lines between being assertive versus being polite, being carefree versus being irresponsible, and being straightforward versus being distastefully insulting.
It is tempting to fall for exhortations, such as: “if your boldness threatens them, tick them off more.” These statements trigger an unwarranted bravado. They carry a certain appeal, a certain sexiness to them that never fails to raise heartbeats and make the adrenaline rush faster. Everyone has been wronged by someone in their lives, and hence, such statements have the potential to resonate with and rope in everyone by triggering their dormant emotions of outrage.
Why is outrage the favorite weapon of woke feminists?
Outrage is an emotion, which once triggered, cannot be contained easily. Outrage doesn’t understand reason. It cannot be turned on and off at will. An outraged person cannot discriminate between a just cause and an insignificant one. Outrage spreads like wildfire, especially if reinforced continuously in large numbers on platforms like the social media, consuming millions within no time, gaining exponentially large numbers of supporters with ease.
Woke activists never aim to resolve a world crisis or to solve problems. Wokism thrives on setting the world ablaze, by creating a chaos that cannot be easily bridled. It is an added boon if such a wildfire reaches the grassroots – in this case, with a potential to consume half the human population and the “woke” men as added bonus.
Being constantly outraged turns individuals into permanent activists. They see wrongness everywhere; they see conspiracy everywhere and are constantly “fighting for their rights” or “restoring justice to the world.” You do not need to offend a permanently outraged individual; they are offended just by your presence if you do not exist on the right side of their taxonomies.
They easily make virtue out of impertinence. They create a veneer of perception that a woman can do no wrong. If it is the woman agitating others, she must be on the right side just by the virtue of being a woman and dumps others on the side of villainy. No discussion required. Without taking into account the context, situation, or the actions and words of either side, it declares women as being on the right side and sentences the man (or any woman who opposes a “bold” woman) to permanent shame and guilt without even the need of a fair hearing.
It should be noted that they only recognize the “bold,” that is, the permanently outraged women as “real women.” Other women are alleged to have sold themselves to the regressive patriarchy and aren’t worth considering.
It’s power, not gender, that corrupts
A revolutionary feminist play, “Lihaaf,” written in India in the 1940s by one of the boldest authentic Indian feminists – Ismat Chughatai – portrays the life of the wife of a Nawab, a decadent medieval feudal lord. Almost deserted by her husband because of his lust for young boys, the wife ends up trying to stamp her authority on a young girl who serves as a chaperone to her.
The play brilliantly portrays that corruption of power isn’t a manifestation of gender stereotypes. Human beings are seemingly wired to be corrupted by unaccountable power. Whoever has sufficient power that is unchallenged wields powers in abominable ways.
Whether wielded by a man or a woman, irresponsible use of power creates an imbalance between the oppressor and the oppressed, as much as irresponsible use of power creates imbalance between the oppressor and the oppressed at other levels – ethnic, racial, religious, etc.
The present feminist goals of “subverting” power to create a role-reversal, where a woman is never wrong, where a woman’s word about an alleged wrong-doing against her is final is creating terrible situations where men have been punished, either by law or by social-shaming, for crimes they never committed.
Most instances of gender-based oppression are simply an expression of Lord Acton’s observation: “Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Man or woman – whoever has such power misuses it.
The ideal form of feminism should aim to counter mindless and unchecked power. Subverting power in the other direction would be perpetrating exactly the same social evils, with roles reversed.
No one, even if wronged, has the right to do wrong
“Man’s Search for Meaning,” the iconic, transformational masterpiece by Viktor Frankl narrates an incident when Frankl and a friend moved through a field of green crops. While Frankl automatically avoided the crops, his friend caught his hand and tried to drag him through. When Frankl resisted, the friend gave him an angry look and shouted – “You don’t say! And hasn’t enough been taken from us? My wife and child have been gassed—not to mention everything else—and you would forbid me to tread on a few stalks of oats!”
Frankl had to work hard to guide him to the commonplace truth that “no one has the right to do wrong, not even if wrong has been done to them.”
Increasingly, young boys are being embarrassed, shamed, and made to feel guilty for being boys. They are expected to be perpetually apologetic to girls as a compensation for all the historical wrongs done to women. The imposition of feelings of permanent guilt for being born as boys is painful for the hapless parents to witness, and for the boys themselves to experience.
A malaise must be eliminated, not reversed in polarity. We seek equal opportunities, a life of honor, dignity, and self-respect for all. It is time we realized that everyone’s life matters, regardless of what transpired in the past.
Authentic feminism for creating the harmony and the “symphony of life”
Like the Piano Concerto 20, the 39th Symphony of Mozart is another piece that flabbergasts the critics. The opening section of the symphony is jarring and is often considered repugnant, but is followed by an allegro that offers a total contrast. Interestingly, it is the contrast offered by the jarring opening piece that provides this allegro with its potency. It was Mozart’s adeptness at putting two characters side by side that contrasted each other vehemently and stood their ground that created such soulful compositions.
Authentic feminism could only be built around such harmony – contradict when required, confront when needed, hold your ground, don’t give in, fight tooth and nail for a cause, but do not set the world on fire indiscriminately. Add your own musicality to the world, but do not subvert the musicality of others. We need a harmony where different, contrasting, and contradictory notes blend together, complete, enhance, and enrich each other.
We need a world of deep-thinking individuals, where an individual can discriminate between situations that require us to be vulnerable and situations that require us to be assertive. We do not need individuals in a permanent state of outrage who behave like perennially provoked automatic machine guns firing indiscriminately, injuring one and all without any sense of purpose or direction.
The whole reason the ideals of feminism were derailed could be summed up in our propensity to fall for “shared outrage.” In order to allow authentic feminism to show up once again, these are the two important pitfalls we need to avoid:
- Avoid existing as gender-based “herds,” and look at the world around us as individuals belonging to the gender that they do rather than undermining an individual, just because they do not belong to the “right” gender.
- Avoid reacting, drawing conclusions, and taking offensive actions without knowing all aspects of situations. There was never a time before where ‘objectivity’ was as important a tool for survival as it is now, especially in a world where seeds of outrage can be sowed on smartphones all over the world within a few milliseconds, it can potentially take less than a few seconds to have the entire world outrage with you. We need to respond entirely based on objective merits.
Authentic feminism would act as that safety net that prevents any woman from suffering for being born as a woman. It would prevent a woman for being tormented for being a woman, but at the same time would take active measures to ensure no woman gets away with a wrong-doing by playing the victim card of being a woman. Do not let a man make a sexist remark, but do not let a woman resort to her feminism and take a go at the “male ego” just because she could not stand up to an argument on logical reasons. Do not let a man take advantage of the vulnerabilities of a woman, but do not let a woman use her vulnerabilities as a stepping stone to the ladder of success. Do not let anyone assault the right to a woman’s safe existence, but do not let a woman walk away with false allegations.
Do not shame a woman for being born a woman, but do not shame a man for being a man either.
Authentic feminism wouldn’t just be a battle of, for, or by women, but a lifestyle for every individual in the world with their heads and hearts in the right places.
Let beauty and elegance continue to exist in their rightful places.
Let “authentic feminism” find its voice, driven by truth, reason, and beauty, seeking balance and creating more harmony in the world.
Let us work together to create a beautiful “symphony of life.”