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DEBUNKED: 7 Common Myths Around Feminism

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By Parboni Bose:

I am a feminist. No, I don’t want to kill all you men reading this; I don’t even judge you women for wanting to marry and have kids. Oh no, I totally don’t go around with underarm hair long enough to be able to plait. No! You completely miss the point, I don’t go to every random protest rally. Oh! Don’t worry, I am not going to hit you for opening doors for me or paying bills in restaurants. And no, I am not a lesbian. Does this answer your questions?

feminism

Well I am sure at least some of you will snort and think what kind of a feminist she is; and for the rest of you, I know you are letting out sighs of relief, thank god, things are not that bad yet, she has scope to be normal, to get married and live happily as she should be.

So to disappoint you all, I am a staunch feminist and proudly so, because I believe in what feminism really is – Equality. Over the years of being a feminist, I have realized one thing – every person has a different set of myths about feminism, myths that go from challenging the gender identity of feminists to challenging their sanity. So, I took out time for social service, I am going to explore and debunk some of the most common myths associated to feminism.

1. All feminists hate men – What do you think we do? Go out with guns on street to shoot every man on this earth? Nope, we have men in our lives and otherwise, and we love them a lot! Let me correct this myth a little, there are some extremist feminists, who are probably disillusioned by man kind and who do not like men much, but most of us are not like that. And all of us are going to hate men who try telling us that we are women who should be kept in cages of their home, with restricted movement because of their gender. So if you are this kind, yes, we do hate you.

2. Feminist is not feminine – Depends how you define feminine. If you think that being frail, shy, scared is feminine; well, I can’t pity you more! Feminist believe in gender equality, they fight against the oppression that we have suffered over centuries, and to fight this, they don’t really need to cross dress or challenge their own gender identity. A feminine identity is strong enough, we don’t really need to get into another identity to fight for equality.

3. Feminism is this, feminism is that – Well you know what? Feminism is about letting a woman be! So a home maker who chooses to be at home and a woman who shuns marriage and childbirth and is more focused on her career are equally feminists. Feminism doesn’t have rules, it is a not a game we are playing.

4. You are a MAN! How are you a feminist? – For some stupid reason, feminism is always seen in contrast to “masculinity”. So if you are a “macho” man, feminism is the last thing you should be talking about. Wrong! Feminism cries out for gender equality. If you are a guy who can hear this cry, and have enough strength to stand up for the rights of the other gender, stand up and be a feminist. It’s not about how this fight doesn’t concern you specifically, it’s about making the world a better place, a saner place.

5. Feminists cannot have a good relationship with a man – Why? Because we like to eat them alive for being a man? Sometimes I do not even know how these myths come around! We can have perfectly nice relationships with a man, as long as he is a not a chauvinist! So yes, we are going to ask for equal rights to pay in a restaurant, or we would like you to stop treating us like fragile objects that cannot take care of themselves, but this has nothing to do with any romantic gestures. So we don’t really bleed you to death when you open gates for us, and you take us out on dates. The key here is not doing all of this out of a certain “masculine” duty, but out of natural love. In turn, we have perfect rights to take you out on dates too and open doors for you too. It is about equality, and let’s try balancing that out.

6. Feminists are lesbians, bra burning and with intense desire to go around with long arm pit hair – Like really? You want to think that all we feminists actually want to do this? What people miss out on often is just a plain simple thing – We don’t want to be scrutinized and judged. So, some women who are disillusioned by men think that a woman’s company is better, and others, well it’s just their sexual orientation. Bra burning never happened. During the feminist movement in 60’s, bras were burnt along with a hundred other household things, which was to give out a much, much deeper message than “we want to burn bras”. The gesture was to demand freedom from being captured into certain stereotypes and roles. Bet you didn’t think about that huh? And well talking about long arm pit hair, it’s not the least concern you know. What we want is to be not stared at for going around the way we want to, simple. We don’t want to be judged, and want to do whatever we wish. So stop cringing, feminism is lot more deep than that.

7.Women are equal now, no need for feminism – So you see that mini skirt wearing woman, going around confidently, getting high education, working on her own terms, and you make this judgment? What about the thousands who are forced to cover themselves up when they don’t want to, who are married off at 15 against their wish to study, who are raped in their marriage continually, and who are denied even the basic rights? Or let’s talk about the mini skirt girl, has she been freed from salivating sneering men, or aunties who tell her to not be a “slut”, or parents who think she has had enough fun in her life and she should settle down, or a boyfriend/husband who doesn’t see her role beyond being a sexual object? No! This is not equality. And this is why we fight, and we will fight for a long, long time. Until we can finally breathe, and make choices, this fight is not won. And hence we need feminism.

This is just the top layer of the deep layered cake of myths that surround feminism. Feminism is feared because we don’t understand it. Feminism is opposed because it is about a change, and that is unwanted. Feminism is curbed, because it will change the power equation in the world, and one gender will stop getting all the benefits. We, as women don’t want to be carried on heads, and treated like princesses. We, as a unified voice, want to be treated like equal human beings. We want you to understand our individuality and give space to it. We want to be able to rise and not be censored or questioned for every action. So I am a feminist because I believe in equality, and if you do too, you are already a feminist.

You must be to comment.
  1. Pragmatic_Dreamer

    This is really well written! And you couldn’t have voiced my thoughts better 🙂

  2. ghostcoderx

    Awesomely written 😀 😀

  3. poulomi

    brilliantly written. Love the sarcasm. “a much deep message than ‘ we want to burn bras'” 😀

    1. Baljeet Kaur

      Feminism propels equality.
      There is still need of Feminism.

      ^ Brilliant ideas shared in your article.

  4. Annesha

    I doubt anyone could have put this in a more simpler way.. Lovely piece of writing.

  5. adya00

    This was really needed!

  6. Rupali

    Amazingly written. People need to understand that Feminism is not just being Pro woman. Its more than that.

  7. Ankita Nawalakha

    Thank you for writing this article. Its really honest and raw. 🙂

  8. Pooja

    Feminism is a dish best served “equal”

  9. Preeti

    Nice article! written in a fluid, interesting style. Hope to c more of your articles in near future.

  10. Anand Prakash

    very well written ….i totally agree with u …..

  11. jeeka7

    i am a feminist.

  12. Rajashok

    Madam..totally agree with what you wrote…but you missed out the reasons why some people are apprehensive about (Indian) Feminism..and why some feel (Indian ) feminism is not about equality but revenge: here are reasons

    Example: a woman & man in a live in relationship for years…differences among them,,,,woman charges RAPE ( for x no of years!)..the man goes to JAIL…VERY SIMPLE…(equality…great)

    example 2 : the GREAT SEC 498a…..it gives the total unilateral supreme power of any woman to send her husband..and his entire family,,whomsoever she chooses…to prison and torture…at her sweet will…AT HER WILL WITH JUST HER STATEMENT THAT THEY ARE ABUSING HER,,,JUST A STATEMENT , NO PROOF REQUIRED,,,IT IS THE HUSBAND WHO HAVE TO PROVE THAT HE IS NOT ABUSER……it is one of the growing extortion industry…in its glorious history ( of sec 498a)…even a two month old baby was arrested and summoned to police station…& released after court intervention….NO WONDER,,,EQUALITY…!

    example 3: the new divorce law being legislated:…woman can demand divorce…man cannot oppose…man seeks divorce…woman can oppose…irrespective of length of the marriage…woman can get divorce…entitled to half of mans property ..and also his ancestral property!!!!!! BUT CAN KEEP ALL HER PROPERTY HERSELF…NO DIVISION ON HER PROPERTY!!!!!!!!

    all these examples are some of the laws demanded,dictated by feminists to GOVTs…no body can dare to oppose the biased laws…it is politically incorrect to oppose thes e laws or to disagree with feminists….

    EQUALITY….

    1. adya00

      There would be no need of feminism if men hadn’t treated women like property. Feminism isn’t revenge, its taking back what has always been theirs. Their rights.

    2. Parboni

      Sir,with due regards to your examples,i am completely stoned with the inappropriate examples you have stated to validate your view that feminism is revenge.First of all,you need to understand what feminism is,we fight for the right to equality,nothing more,nothing less,so in cases where women register undue complaints of rape,that is not feminism.I don’t even deem important to address your examples for the basic fact that what you cite as examples of feminism is not feminism.We do not want undue advantages meted out to us for we are supposed to be the weaker sex,that is what our fight is all about.But just because you think of all this as a revenge,i would like to shed some light on your stated examples.
      Examples 1: First of all,i can give you a ratio of 1:100 cases where the woman is left,most often than not pregnant in live in relationships.As soon as a woman gets into a live in relationship,her character is mutilated,and while a man can walk away without a second glance,for a woman this relationship becomes the noose on her neck.However with respect to charges of rape,the new high court ruling where a sexual relationship between two consenting adults of a live in relationship cannot be considered rape.The court investigates properly given the sensitivity of the situation,and then rules in in favor of justice. So sir,it will be very inappropriate to assume we have no legislation in the country,it doesn’t work as simple as woman complains for rape,and man goes to jail.Also,this case is only if the case of rape is registered and someone thinks it fit enough to enact on it,in most of the cases,the woman will be dismissed humiliated.Sir you are not a woman,and hence will probably not understand the kind of trauma a woman would go through before putting up her case like this.The other women who actually do register a case,have the freedom to do so.In some cases,it is actually true that the woman is violated for years,and in some cases when it is a scheme,nobody is supporting such unscrupulous motives.
      Example 2:With reference to 498a,the dowry act,i hope you are aware of the cruel fact of dowry that reigns in our society.I hope you are aware that thousands are killed every year for dowry,thousands are rejected in marriage for dowry.Given this,i also understand that there is a misuse in the society with reference to this act.But generally when you file a complaint,that’s how it works,the other person is held guilty until proven otherwise.However given the misuse,the law has been made compoundable that is bailable.The law was not meant to be at her ‘sweet will’,but to protect thousands dying every year for greed.
      Example 3:Sir the opposing of divorce can be done by a woman on basis of her financial hardships,as in india,women own only 2% of the lands..because in indian laws a woman is not given any property.The acquired property by a woman is a recent phenomenon,still not there in most of the places,they generally have joint properties.Given the kind of state woman is often left in after divorce( talking of the non working indian women,which is still a majority),and the kind of abuse she goes thru to keep the marriage together i see no problem with this legislation.
      However,for your kind information,the problems you pose up,as i have proved is pretty invalid,and in any cases are loopholes in the legislation,not feminism.You cannot deny the right to equality to a woman because of some rare misuses of the laws.I hope next time before taking up such strong anti feminist position,you do a fact check.
      Equality,yes.

    3. Raj Ashok

      Madam… I have stated that I agree with the principle of feminism i.e equality.it should be that way…man and woman are equal
      BUT I am protesting the way INDIAN feminism activists are working . they are spreading false propaganda and PROMOTING GENDER BIASED LAWS WHICH IS NOT EQUALITY. all their activities are opposing equality principles

      regarding your comments : Madam, do you read newspapers..most of the rape charges in a live in split are not pregnancy related… in fact i recollect none…all these cases the women are not ‘abla naaris’…they are all well earning confident modern women…who consciously went into such a arrangement….BUT ALAS..WHEN IT COMES TO DISPUTE THEY CHOOSE TO AVAIL THE GREAT ‘EQUALITY’ LAWS…AND I REPEAT…THE LAW ASSUMES WOMEN ARE CORRECT…AND THE MAN IS ARRESTED.just on a woman’s word…always..it is after ,much torture, humiliation,( sometimes blackmail/extortion) that he is let off

      you are wrong madam….the laws clearly states that ….it is the accused ( Men) who has to prove that he is not guilty.
      about 498..please do some study …98% of such cases are false…used just to blackmail/ terrorise husbands & family in case of marital disputes…

      ”’about new divorce laws…this great law says women have a right to husbands ancestral property too…SO NOT ONLY PROPERTY EARNED BY HUSBAND…BUT also PROPERTY EARNED BY husbands FOREFATHERS ALSO …..but husband has no right in property in womans name….see the fun..even if he is not guilty..or he is not at fault…woman can demand divorce , can walk away with his property…man cannot oppose…but even if man is really suffering from wife…he cannot seek divorce if she opposes…really great equality norms..good

      I CAN GO ON WITH SUCH EXAMPLES OF ALL LAWS

      I know this is not feminism…BUT THESE LAWS are demanded, dictated & promoted by INDIAN feminists in the name of feminism and HILARIOUSLY…EQUALITY…

      anyway if the Indian feminists think these laws..( which says women are always right and men are always criminals) are helping them…good luck…but many like me believe if common sense is allowed to prevail ( like let law punish WHOEVER ( men or woman) IS GUILTY..AFTER FAIR TRIAL).. it will serve the cause of equality more better ( again I also feel this is not feminism….but this is what is being done in the name of feminism in INDIA)

    4. Karthika

      In that case we will remain quiet. We won’t complain. We will let the husband and in law torture there he’ll out of us. We well let them mock us, throw out of the house, humiliate if proper dowry is not given.
      We will kill the female fetuses because they will have to give away dowry 20-25 years later.
      We will remain quiet when attacked by other men or women. We won’t speak out and let the patriarchy oppress us further. We will advise all the girls who ashamed to be born a girl to wait until next birth where they could have a chance to be born a boy.

      #headdesk

      Where I come from this is the situation.
      Women are oppressed and if someone tries to speak out for them, they are attacked with all that abuses.

      About sec 498a
      Fine let that law be dissolved.
      Dowry is a tradition let the daughters be a head ache for the parents.
      Let the available sex ratio go down.

    5. Karthika

      Basically what you are asking is to dissolvofficialse sec 498a, silence the genuine victims further let them tortured humiliated and killed.
      Let them ashamed of the fact that they born with estrogen and not androgen. Let the patriarch control three very rate breathe they are taking. To lay more female feud and infants die due all the discrimination created by men and supported by women(no denying it).
      Let the rape victims be silenced more.
      Let women have no property, or to let them be in a marriage that they don’t like even if it means to kill them. Let their husbands leave them for another woman.

      #headesk

      Maybe women take things For granted but please don’t compare them with feminist s. We ate against segregation and extra partiality given to us, at least I hate it.
      Where I come from, 90% women are ashamed of their gender. They are oppressed and have no voice.
      Try and understand the points she is trying to convey.

    6. Raj Ashok

      Madam, I am surprised by your reply
      Am I claiming that there are no crimes at all!…what i am protesting is the lack of equality in law..the biased laws which pre suppose that ALWAYS…women are correct and men are criminals ..ALWAYS…these biased laws are demanded , dictated,drafted by so called equality seeking feminists!

      for GODs sake..why cannot we allow commonsense to prevail…exactly why not…let the law punish WHOEVER IS GUILTY AFTER A FAIR TRIAL…WHOEVER IT IS…MAN OR WOMAN…what is the feminists problem with this…

      why the bloody arrogant power of ability sending a man to jail ( husband/colleague/relative/stranger…whoever it is…depending on the sec applicable) ..with just a statement…i repeat with just a statement….if at all the charge is proved wrong ….after all the humiliation/torture/media lynching…the man is just let off…just let off…after may be 5/10/15 years of torture….AND the complainant WOMAN HAS NOTHING TO LOOSE…

      please celebrate the empowerment ( of sending any man to jail) and equality .thanks to great biased laws

    7. Parboni

      Sir if any feminist supports such inequality,they are not feminists.It is a misconstrued definition of feminism which even you have it looks like.True feminists do not want this…nd it doesn’t depend on the geographical space they are in..i am an indian feminist,and i dnt support this.Please stop using the word feminist in this context,it’s sad to see such a bad use of the word.

    8. nayal16

      good reply. Wish I could be as informative as you, but I get your gist and agree with you. Nice to see a man writing back among all women commenters

    9. observer

      Stoned?? Also, I’d love it if you could cite the sources for the numbers you quote in your comment. I agree with the gist of the article though. The word “feminism” needs to be reclaimed for all the good that has come from it.

      However, the focus should be on actual problems rather than taking offense at minor things like language. And regarding the Indian law, it is usually “innocent until proven guilty”. Not the other way round, except in this case. And I think the Supreme court statement/decision was a welcome one. Finally, the laws could be a little more gender neutral, else there would always be an imbalance in power.

  13. Karthika

    Salute!
    Even I am attacked by men and women(sadly) with these myths and norms. You have covered almost every points I wanted to convey.
    Awesome article, thank you for writing.

    For standing up for other oppressed women we are called lesbian, chauvinist, feminazi, fascist, antimen , frigid, man hater oppressor, home wrecker, evil …

  14. ayukaushik

    http://goldenchidiya.com/2014/03/20/t20_9/

    Read my article here and share your views. I hope you will like it. It is a letter to the type of women who think all men are dogs because even when you are saying all women don’t think that way, there would be some ‘women only cabal’ abusing men.

  15. Monistaf

    I could not agree with you more on equality of genders, what I disagree on is the fight for “privilege”. If you want to be treated equal, then, you should relinquish all privilege. You cannot have your cake and eat it too. You claim that women are being oppressed in so many ways. I agree. Guess what? You have equal power and capacity to fight and you should, just like a lot of oppressed men have to fight for their rights. You have a comment on equal pay. Again, I agree, you should be paid fairly for your work, but no one is forcing you to work where you think you are not being paid a fair wage. You want employers to just “give” you fair wages? What you get paid is based on your experience, potential and ability to negotiate. Accepting equality means that you are “equally” capable in ALL respects, so negotiate a better wage, or get out and find something different to do where you will be fairly compensated. Don’t sit there and complain that you should just be handed out a fair wage simply because you are a woman. It is this double standard about feminism that I detest not the equality debate. You are “equally” capable of fighting for your own seats on local trains and buses, why the privilege of having something reserved? Oh, because you get pushed and shoved? But I thought you were equal, push and shove back!! That, is true equality, and I am all for it because, I do believe that women are just as capable as men in anything they want to do.

    1. Parboni

      The problem with equal pay is that most of the companies dnt offer it,so what do u do,keep changing jobs?We demand just the equal pay scale as men,atleast the basic,why should we need to struggle extra coz we are women?As for reserved compartment,it becomes a need,a need where u r touched and molested by a thousand people who are lecherously waiting to grope you.As for women’s seat,i agree sir we don’t need it,we dnt want it.We want to struggle to,but our starting point should not be far behind men’s.Only then can we race equal sir.

    2. Monistaf

      Parboni – Why do you think that most companies do not offer it? Do you really think that all men doing the same job get paid the same wages? I can tell you from experience that is not even close to being true because, like I mentioned earlier, it depends on your ability to negotiate a better wage for yourself for your work. The companies do not offer it (to men or women) because they think they can get away with it, but being a woman, and being equally capable in all respects, you owe it to yourself to stand your ground and negotiate with the company. Don’t just expect them to hand it out to you, that is how most businesses work. They are mostly, for profit institutions and if they can get the same work done for less, they are more profitable. They do the same when making offers to men, try to get away with paying the lowest possible wage, which is why if you take a 100 men working the same job at the same level, almost all of them are being paid different rates. I am not doubting that women are equally capable, all I am asking is to be fair when it comes to equality and accept it for what it stands for. Do not fight for hand-outs and special privileges while asserting that you are equal.

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