What Do You Understand About Feminism?

Posted on February 10, 2013 in Society

By Tanya Kak:

Ever heard statements like, “Oh God! You’re a feminist? Please don’t put us through the agony of listening to your nari-morchas” or “you’re a woman, you can’t make up your mind and settle for one thing, let alone the oh-so-many demands that you go on ranting about!”? If this is something that has escaped your ears, I’m sure this one is a classic that just can’t, “why are you crying like a girl! Get a grip of your emotions and be a man”.

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Whether it is the Delhi Gang rape case of 16th December or the recent passing of a fatwa, banning the all-woman rock band in Kashmir in the garb of gross misinterpretation and religious fanaticism, the problem has its roots much deeper and beyond what usually meets the eye. Let’s establish a few things at the outset.

First, feminism is not about portraying the woman as a “victim”. It’s about how the very same woman is a “survivor” of the deeply entrenched patriarchal norms of the society that she’s been subjected to in one way or the other.
Second, feminism is not an ideology, it is not a certain set of beliefs that are fixed and about a group of people who believe in painting a particular gender with the same brush. It is about lived experiences, it is about voicing those experiences and standing up for what you think is right. I can be a feminist, a man can be a feminist and you could be one too. There is no one feminism but “feminisms”, because every experience is different, every story is worth sharing. So the next time you go about telling a woman “that feminists are so confused that they can’t even agree on a certain set of demands, on what is it that they exactly want”, remember its very strength lies in its pluralism, in how it can’t discredit and dismiss lived experiences.

Post the gang rape, I’ve actually heard a lot of amusing statements, some filled with disgust and some others saying “every man is not a rapist”. The part where it becomes amusing for me is when I see the very same people going back home and after eating dinner, expecting the lady of the house to take their plate when they’re done. So the next time you start asserting, with so much conviction, that “all of us are not the same” and accuse feminists of over-reaction, make sure you’ve not been the one under-reacting all this while. This brings me to my next point, “the personal is political”. No, it’s not just a fancy jargon or a clichéd line that one might hear time and again. If you can keep the courage to go out there and protest and show your levels of outrage, you must also realise that it is your gestures in the smallest of interpersonal relations in your private life that gradually make you the individual you are in the public sphere.

Sexual assaults, harassment of women and the consequent fear that it instils in them is not a sudden development or something that exists in vacuum. It originates from us, it lies within us. Our constant and subconscious habit of segregating gender roles on the basis of some attributes that we associate with them, the mindset that a woman always needs to be taken care of, needs to be protected goes a long way in strengthening and enforcing the misogynist attitudes. To be the harbingers of change, we first need to acknowledge the problem and fight the war within for it to translate into a victory well achieved. And that for me is YOUTH KI AWAAZ.

[box bg=”#fdf78c” color=”#000″]About the author: Tanya Kak is a first year student pursuing political science honours from Lady Shri Ram college, Delhi. A passionate debater, she loves to dissect and analyse things around her in order to understand the fundamentals of any given thing/situation. She’s deeply interested in world and Indian politics and loves to have constructive discussions on the same. A source of Inspiration and somebody who has always defined a leader for her, happens to be her grandfather[/box]

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