SPOILER – It’s not food.
This article is long overdue and it’s very surprising that I haven’t written anything on this topic until now because anyone who knows me will tell you I am exceptionally passionate about it. If you haven’t caught on yet, the word I’m referring to is “feminism” and I have a lot to say. Coming from an all girls school, I think I’ve led a very sheltered life where most people I interacted with had the same worldview as me, and misogyny and sexism were things I knew existed but had never really encountered first hand.I just sort of assumed that everybody stood for equality and hence everybody is a feminist. In college however one tends to meet all kinds of people and for the first time in my life I realized that not everyone is a feminist. So many people don’t even know what feminism is. So here’s my humble attempt to share whatever little expertise I have on the subject.
This was hugely inspired by the women’s march held in the US
- It’s all about equality– so a few months ago I asked this guy what feminism is and he said he didn’t know, and when I explained he actually seemed surprised and went “so then I guess even I’m one” . Merriam Webster defines feminism as “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes” hear that? Equality. The sad part is most people who believe in equality say they they aren’t feminists because they have some warped deranged notion about what it is. If you think women should enjoy the same rights, opportunities and respect etc as men do in society, then you are a feminist . It’s really not rocket science.
- It’s not the same as misandry (hating men). If you think that feminists are these angry muscular bra-less women sitting in a room discussing ways to annihilate the entire male population on this planet, then I hate to break it to you, but you don’t know the first thing about feminism. Don’t let a few people’s antics in the name of feminism colour your entire perception of it. A feminist is against both patriarchy and matriarchy because they put one gender above the other, and anyone who hates men only because they are men, is no feminist.
- Men can be feminists. Just like how you don’t have to be a tree to care about the environment or a dog to support animal rights, in the same way, you don’t have to be a woman to support feminism because frankly speaking it’s for everyone. Everyone will benefit from it. Women form half the population, if you uplift women, you’re uplifting society as a whole too, and if that’s not enough to make you care, think of it from a basic humanitarian perspective. Does it really sit well with you that people are treated differently just based on gender? That you’re expected to be a certain way because you happen to have two X chromosomes? Male feminists are not traitors. They aren’t misandrists or gay or “pussies”. There’s nothing shameful in advocating equality. In fact a lot of men do, and that’s something they should be proud of.
- Feminists are not all stuck up, crazy, easily irritable girls who will murder you in your sleep if you say anything to offend them. We don’t get “triggered” every 5 minutes and turn into monsters. A feminist can be soft spoken too. It has more to do with what you believe in and less to do with how you behave or look. It is actually possible to have a civil, open-minded, polite conversation with a feminist without them hurling abuses at you or ranting on the internet. I feel particularly strongly about this point because I can relate to being thought of like this. Just because a person voices their opinion or calls out your sexism, doesn’t mean they’re easily “triggered” or that you have to constantly check yourself around them. We don’t lash out at every remark. We CAN have a sense of humour, we don’t take to the internet at the drop of a hat. Please stop indulging in these stereotypes and instead try to focus on the essence of the problem, which is not your joke but the deep rooted patriarchy it stems from.
- Feminism is NOT harmful to men. A lot of men are against feminism because they feel threatened by its consequences but feminism is as much about men as it is about women. Both the genders are equally important and are connected in more ways than you think. Feminism is against gender roles for women AND men. Society puts an annoying amount of pressure on men to be a particular way- strong, bold, cut off emotionally, good at sports and business etc . Like Emma Watson said in her #HeforShe speech at the UN-
“I’ve seen men made fragile and insecure by a distorted sense of what constitutes male success. Men don’t have the benefits of equality, either. We don’t often talk about men being imprisoned by gender stereotypes, but I can see that they are, and that when they are free, things will change for women as a natural consequence. If men don’t have to be aggressive in order to be accepted, women won’t feel compelled to be submissive. If men don’t have to control, women won’t have to be controlled. Both men and women should feel free to be sensitive. Both men and women should feel free to be strong. It is time that we all perceive gender on a spectrum, instead of two sets of opposing ideals. If we stop defining each other by what we are not, and start defining ourselves by who we are, we can all be freer. It’s about freedom. I want men to take up this mantle so that their daughters, sisters, and mothers can be free from prejudice, but also so that their sons have permission to be vulnerable and human too, reclaim those parts of themselves they abandoned, and in doing so, be a truer and complete version of themselves.”
- Feminists CAN be stereotypically feminine. Don’t freak out if you see a feminist wearing makeup or cooking. Just because feminists refuse to conform to society’s expectations of what a woman “should be” doesn’t mean we can’t do typically feminine things. We can do whatever the hell we want. We are not against marriage or childbirth, we are not all only career-oriented, we don’t have to have tattoos or ride bikes or hang out with boys. It’s each to their own. Live and let live.
Sexism is still really prevalent, and it’s not just a problem India faces but something pretty much the whole world does. Anyone who thinks there is perfect equality, is kidding themselves. All those “i don’t need feminism because..” people, either don’t understand what it is or refuse to accept the fact that it’s very much a priority right now. Forget about certain rural parts of India for a minute -where girls aren’t allowed to go to school, where they get married off after puberty and are basically expected to pump out babies (oops sorry, I meant sons) and cook meals for their husband for as long as required, where dowry and female infanticide and still prevalent. But even in urban society, among the elite, women are struggling. We don’t get paid the same amount men do( not by long shot), even if we do the same work. If you get raped, it’s your fault.(and god forbid you wore something revealing when it happened, because then you were definitely asking for it). We are told we’re pretty before being told we’re smart, we’re told to be careful while doing normal things like going for a walk and if someone whistles at us we’re told “boys will be boys” .Till today, so many parents spend more money on their daughter’s wedding then they do on her education. Do you not see the problem or do you just refuse to do anything about it? I know it’s not possible to change all this at the drop of a hat but the least we can do is try to spread awareness. The least we can do is try to stand up for others, try to reach as many people as possible, try to change things. The least we can do is try.
NOTE- I know this kind of turned into a rant and became super long but that’s only because I feel way too passionately about this and can’t help myself. If you read till the end then you’re my favorite kind of person.