Feminism, the term and the concept, both have been drawing a lot of flak of late. Well, everything good has always drawn more negativity than it should, but recently I have been noticing that both men and women have incorrect perception of feminism. A certain Bollywood starlet had said in an interview, some time back that she is not a feminist. Well, that is a shocker because an independent woman who is surviving in a male dominated industry, obviously supports equality of the sexes. Then why is she not a feminist?
Even before I was born, my parents had wanted a girl child. After they had me, they didn’t want any more, just in hope for a boy child. I’ve never had to compromise on anything (except curfew timings for late night parties) because I am a girl. Some might think that I am the wrong person to be talking about this. On the flip side, there are risks I have not taken, permissions I have not bothered to even ask for, destinations I haven’t travelled – because I am a girl. Around me, I have seen women being judged for every decision they take. Depending on where the stork had dropped us, we have all had our share of compromises which were made purely because of our sex. I don’t think any of my male friends, cousins or others can boast of this.
A woman is judged for having a career, and not having one. She is judged for keeping her maiden surname, for taking up her husband’s surname and even if she uses both! She is judged for balancing work and home, and leaving from work at the time she is supposed to (after finishing all that she had to). She is judged for being a mother and dividing her time between her children and her work. She is judged for not having children. She is judged if she has never dated, and called a slut if she has. None of these are an issue in a man’s life. And this happens world over. But then these are very mild examples of inequality. There are sections of the world society where women have to undergo genital mutilation, are married off even before they can read, are used and abused, are not allowed to be educated and even if educated, not allowed to be independent. Why go far, we have parts in our own country where women are not allowed to be born! And yet a major part of the society thinks that feminism, or equality, is unimportant?
Feminism – in theory and in practice, seems to have created a wide gap in understanding. In practice, it seems to have become everything it shouldn’t be. Because women had (and in most parts, still are) been so downtrodden and need to be lifted to equal status as men, this revolution was brought into consideration. In no way should it mean women are superior or men, inferior. I am a feminist and I love men. Now when we talk about equality, let us understand that there are things women cannot do. We lose blood every month, so we might not work as much on those days. We are not physically strong, unless trained. But men too are incapable of a lot of things which women are. That is how we balance each other. Not by doing the same things always, but at times, giving a helping hand to the other.
It being women’s day today, I decided to touch base with few of my friends – women who are slaying all stereotypes, are strong and independent, and asked them what feminism is according to them. I bring you a spattering of an author, a lawyer, a marketing professional and a trainer.
Aditi Mathur Kumar
What do I think feminism is? Well, Women Empowerment – plain and simple. Welfare of the girl child, young women and ladies – making them empowered citizens of the world, as opposed to the weaker sex, the oppressed gender. But for me, feminism and equality go hand in hand, and THAT is what I always try to make people understand. Feminism is not men bashing, feminism is not the quest to be crowned the better gender, and feminism is not playing the gender card when it’s convenient. I hate it when we say that we women are equal to men in all ways, except when we are special and then equal doesn’t count and is unfair and won’t everyone please remember that men suck? Not the right attitude for a feminist, believe me. For me, feminism means getting equal pay as my male counterpart, about being able to wear anything I want without being called a slut or body-shamed for being too thin or too fat, about being able to enjoy equal opportunities while I pay the bills, run errands and not expect the man of the house to take care of things that men are supposed to do – because by saying that, you fail feminism big time. Feminism is about asking for equal status, it’s NOT about asking for special treatment. So, in short, I think that feminism is about being treated as equal, where I do my own thing, support the cause of Women Empowerment to all my capabilities, but simultaneously also doing my bit as an empowered women.
(Aditi is the author of ‘Soldier & Spice: An Army Wife’s Life’. She is a Travel & Lifestyle Blogger, a Digital Media Professional, a Social Media Strategy Girl, An Army Wife, A Mother, an Entrepreneur, an eavesdropper, and many things. Her next book will be out in April 2016. Stay tuned.)
Bhargavi Dev K
What does feminism mean to me? To me, the word means what it actually stands for– equal political, economic, cultural, personal, and social rights for women.
Equal. Not better or supreme as is made out, these days, specially on social media. Rather unfortunate, don’t you think?
When I say Feminism means being equal, I do not mean that men and women are equal. We are different in a lot of ways and I celebrate the difference. However, what I ask for is that we have the same political rights, same economical rights and same social rights.
What I want as a feminist is that the oppression of women in the name of culture, religion, social structure, societal norms, etc be stopped.
It is difficult for the privileged and/or protected to see the glass ceiling, more so, when you find so many independent women around you. However, it does exist. Read, watch and learn from the lived experiences.
However today, I want to talk about something else. I want to talk about how the word Feminism is being abused on social media. How the whole meaning of the word is twisted and is made to sound like it is the filthiest thing to exist. It has been used in such a derogatory manner that some of the girls shy away from being associated with it and loudly proclaim, “I am not a feminist.” Is that not akin to saying, you want to be treated badly?! This breaks my heart. They even take offence if they are called a feminist.
I wonder how did we end up here! I am no sociologist but I think I wouldn’t be wrong to presume that these girls want to disassociate from feminism because of the twisted meaning the word is given. A lot of men on social media, especially on twitter, are always taking pot shots at feminism. They propagate a wrong idea that feminists hate men.
And then there are some who say feminists are ugly or even that they aren’t loved so they spread hatred in the world.
Seriously? Feminism is a fight for equality where all men, women, transgenders, cross-dressers, gender fluid people and everyone is treated as an equal and has equal socio-political rights. Since when did this movement equate to hating men?
BOYS, NO WE DO NOT HATE YOU. WE LOVE OUR MEN.
So what I really really want immediately is that the world be taught what feminism truly means.
(Bhargavi is a practicing lawyer, who is not very vociferous of her opinions on social media for she believes that one should argue only when one is paid for it. 😛 )
Feminism – I had to to google the word to ensure its real meaning. Happens, when you get to see every celebrity and politician making a statement on feminism. It is not equality which I was unaware or unconcerned about, but the meaning of this oft used word which seems to have different meaning for celebrities.
If feminism is equality to all sexes in social, political, economic and cultural aspects, I would say it’s ideal. However, I am not sure of how realistic it is in given scenario. I am a mother to a three-year-old, I work, I earn equally to my husband, but I do more than what a man can. Run the house, do the chores better, manage money better, and I have never felt that it’s an issue I need to raise my equality in not doing/ignoring chores like men do. I believe we women were made superior with inner strength but instead indulge in a war of words to be equal to men.
I don’t deny we compromise on a lot of aspects, which we deserve. Raising a daughter I try to instill in her that she is a confident and capable person, I never use the term girl to make her realise what she is or can be. However reality strikes, when I deny her requests to stand and do wee-wee because that’s how her best friend (a boy) has been potty trained!
This women’s day I only wish we realise what our potential is and fight for what we deserve based on it rather than fighting just because we want what men have without the credibility.
(A marketing professional from Bangalore, Sangeetha currently resides in Dublin, Ireland with her husband and her daughter.)
Let’s understand and accept this – men and women are different. But both should be given equal opportunities – to succeed or not, is up to the individual. But do not deny a job to a person just because she is a woman. If she is qualified and has the experience you desire, then she is eligible for the post! Give it to her. If she falters, take her case, as you would of a male employee. No, women don’t want special status. Women want equal status. Yes, there are tons of women who play the gender card, expect men to pay for everything, hate men and in short, make the lives of men miserable. But then there are many men who are rapists, vulgar and perverts. Doesn’t make all men that, does it? Then why judge women based on how some of them behave. Yes, this is the generalisation we want to stop. If all men are not perverts, rest assured, all feminists are not there to make lives of men misreable.
If a woman is making your life miserable, she is probably doing so for two reasons – you did something to her, or she is plain mean. It would be interesting to know that a non-feminist woman can also make your life miserable, but it wouldn’t bother you that much. Probably ‘coz she doesn’t want equality.
Coming to women who claim to be feminists, do understand that it is more than treating your men as servants and not believing in your role of the wife/sister/mother/daughter etc. It is about being what you are and more. If we want equality, we have to work hard too. Contribute to the income, pay some bills, pay for some vacations maybe – in short, understand that equal accountability of running a house, office or anything else, lies with you.
Long story short, this post was not written to strike any conversation or debate. It was to put across a few points about feminism –
- Feminism doesn’t mean women are superior.
- Feminism doesn’t mean men are to be hated.
- Feminism expects equal rights to men and women.
- Feminism doesn’t mean giving special preference to women.
- Using the gender card is uncool.
- Feminism means women should also come ahead and share responsibilities. Equality, you see.
- Each one of us who believes in equality should be a feminist. There is no pride in not being a feminist.