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Why I Prefer “Gender Equality” To “Feminism”, And Why All Men Should Be Equalists

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By Archeeta Pujari:

As soon as the word escaped my lips, horrified silence fell across the group. Mothers covered their children’s’ ears with alarm while others averted their eyes in disapproval. Unemployed, lazy, dishonest, secret murderer of hamsters, anything would have been preferable, but not this, anything but this, how could you even suggest such a thing!

You’re a feminist?

Feminism in India

Feminists, the globally recognized brand of bra-burning, husband-eschewing hate-mongers at the root of the global conspiracy to emasculate men, reducing them to nothing but cash/sperm machines, aggressively campaigning for their own rights at the expense of all others, with their sights set at nothing short of world domination with men as their petty slaves.

As news of soaring divorce rates and debilitating alimony settlements hits the headlines, it is becoming less and less fashionable to identify as a feminist. The centuries of campaigning and advocacy that defined the feminist movement have been forgotten, replaced by notions of greedy, man-hating women, and resulting in the formation of a number of unnecessary ‘men’s-rights’ movements.

Many people who are diametrically opposed to the feminist movement believe that it symbolises a ‘war between the sexes,’ and that feminists are looking to usurp the roles traditionally held by men and establish their supremacy. They couldn’t be further from the truth. Feminism is not about the dominance of one sex over the other, or a zero-sum game. It is about equality in terms of rights, freedoms, opportunities, respect and dignity for all people, irrespective of gender. It is about the elimination of constrictive gender stereotypes and established gender roles, to allow people to chose a way of life that suits them, without suffering from discrimination, bias or contempt.

Some of the loathing for feminism undoubtedly comes from the term itself – feminism. By explicitly naming one gender, it immediately diminishes the rights of other genders in lieu of the favoured one. After-all, we don’t call those opposed to racial discrimination racists, or the campaign to eradicate the caste system caste-ism. But feminism is not about promoting the rights of females, it is about establishing equity across the spectrum of genders. I believe that ‘feminism’ is the incorrect term to use when describing these ideologies. Feminism is about gender equality, and it should be called thus.

But surely, gender-equality, or whatever you call it, is for the benefit of women, not men? It is for improving the lives of men too. Here’s how:

  • Men are often burdened with unforgiving gender stereotypes just as much as women. You’re not a man if you can’t provide for your family, right? If a man shows emotions, he is a ‘pussy’. If he doesn’t like to play or watch sports, he’s a sissy. If he would rather stay home with his children, he’s not a man. Qualified men in traditionally ‘feminine‘ professions such as nursing, teaching, child-care are looked down upon. Men are aggressive, cheating, insensitive, unwashed, smelly, primitive sex-fiends with no control over their impulses. Feminine traits in men, whether sensitivity, creativity, shortness, or shyness are looked down upon. Trans-women are marginalized from society, forced to beg for a living, to pay for their crime of desiring to be womanly. As long as feminine qualities as perceived as negative, derogatory or subordinate, men all over the world will continue to be held to unrealistic standards of manliness, which has a profound effect on physical and mental well-being of men everywhere.
  • Traditional gender roles mean that not only are women seen as domestic caregivers, but men are seen as financial providers, or ‘ATM machines’. Men are often criticized for seeking superficial qualities in women like physical appearance, homeliness, docility, rather than emotional connection, but I have met far too many educated women whose sole ambition, far from having a high-flying career and being independent and self-sufficient, is to marry rich, ‘be a gold-digger’, bag men with large pay-cheques to fund their lifestyles without having to toil in the competitive job-market of today’s times. Gender equality gives men and women equal education, equal opportunities, and thus, equal ability to contribute financially as desired.
  • Following on from my previous point, both partners should have the right to discuss how best to split the responsibility of financial provision. Just as women should be free to go out and be the primary breadwinner of the family, men who prefer to stay at home should have the opportunity to do so without facing derision and ridicule from the society. Similarly, men should be able to depend on their partners financially while switching jobs, or taking career breaks, rather than being forced to remain in unpleasant or boring jobs for fear of not fulfilling their duties as men.
  • Men are often seen as sexual predators, taking advantage of vulnerable women for their own gratification. Undoubtedly, there have been cases of women using this stereotype to falsely accuse men of sexual assault and harassment. Moreover, victims of male rape are rarely taken seriously, as the idea of male consent is still widely disregarded. Gender equality dispels the perception of women as passive, weak, vulnerable and helpless, and thus removes the status of men as predators or implicitly untrustworthy individuals.

What I am trying to say is that gender-equality is for everyone. Treating one section of society as helpless, weak, incompetent and undesirable inevitably has negative consequences on every other part of society by placing unrealistic expectations on them. Gender-equality is not a whim of bored housewives, or whiny, dissatisfied women, but a continuous and burning requirement that everyone should be fighting for relentlessly, rather than shunning or distancing themselves, for until gender-equality is achieved, we are all losers, men and women alike.

You must be to comment.
  1. Sukaina Majeed

    and that’s why I stand against women coaches!!

    feminism is so not about “hating men.”

  2. Aiman

    The most balanced article about the concept of “feminism” and gender eqality i’ve read in a long time..:D..Most of the articles miss out on the other side of the spectrum.Feminism as a concept is something that involves men equally rather than being “us against them”

  3. AK

    Gender Equality is needed not Feminism…they should start by updating Family Law in Indian Constitution where all laws seem to stand against men.

  4. Gaurav

    the feminist movement has already given birth to a new concept – humanist. which talks about equality and same rights and duties for both men and women.

  5. sara

    Feminism IS about gender equality. That’s the difference between misandry and feminism. You mention about how men are called “pussy” for engaging in professions traditionally associated with women. The usage of words depicting traits that are supposedly found in women as a way of looking down upon men or making fun of them simply shows why feminism is needed. Because hey, what’s wrong with a “pussy” anyway?

    Call it Equality, or call it feminism, the crux doesn’t change.

    1. Saket

      I think that’s what’s being argued here. Feminism IS about geneder equality, but people have forgotten that and now it is associated with aggresive misandry.

      There’s nothing wrong with pussy, but equality is about enabling people to realise and accept that, and stop thinking of it as a derogar=tory temn.

    2. Clarissa

      I’m sorry Saket, I’m unfamiliar with this voting system and accidentally voted you down.

    3. Clarissa

      Er, rather, apologies to Sara. :-%

  6. Clarissa

    Everyone is talking about equality but equality is useless in a system that has favored cis white men for so long. What we need is justice, equity.

    http://johnkilleagh.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/equality-justice1.jpg

    1. Archeeta

      But you’re saying that the only way to rectify a flawed society is to continue bias, but in favour of women instead ? I don’t think this should be the case, men and women are equal, this does not necessarily mean that they are the SAME.

      For instance, you could have a quota saying that 50% of firefighters have to be women, so that the system is just and fair. But what happens when the female firefighter runs into a burning building and is unable to carry large, injured victims ? Is this situation still a victory for feminism ?

      Equity goes 2 ways. You cannot only forcibly pull men back to give women a better chance. Would women be willing to step up to the challenges that exact equity poses ? Would women be willing to take up dangerous employment in mine shafts and die on the frontline, because you cannot pick and choose only the good parts of being, you have to take the whole hog.

    2. Sophie

      We need to talk about Equality, the same way a black man feels it has been unfair how the white man has been favourred is the same that a black woman feels about being treated lower to the black man

  7. Anirudh

    This is the most logical and issue addressing article I have come across on this topic …. Very well raised valid point that if feminism means gender equality then why such a misleading nomenclature… Women with their high emotional IQ form the cultural backbone of any civilization… Feminism in extreme forms has the potential to destroy this tender equilibrium… Entire humanity needs to build on a system of common values

    1. Sophie

      Feminism is political, it seeks to not pretend that there is justice but really point out why we should strive for social, political and other forms of fairness among women and men which has been hindered by patriarchy. Many find it scary to admit or acknowledge others as feminist. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hg3umXU_qWc

  8. Monistaf

    The point could not have been better articulated!! Thank you for being true to your beliefs and calling out the clear injustice that has been going around in the name of feminism. Even the newly enacted rape law which is part of the Indian Penal Code only protects women from men, but rape is an equal opportunity crime and there are many men and boys who have suffered the consequences of being victims but have no place to turn because it is only recognized or worthy of attention when it is perpetrated against women. Even in the media, it is acceptable to portray men as stupid but it is politically incorrect to do the reverse. Thank you for the article and I hope that more women think like you.

    1. Sophie

      It is unfair if that law defines rape as only happening to women, rape is violation that can happen to men or women. The perpetrator whether women or men should be punished and the survivor should get the medical and legal help. However, that doesn’t negate the fact that the highest percentage of sexual abuse is perpetrated against women. This has got to do with power. Oh I ma glad not all women think the same since this article deosnt seem to be informed on what feminism is all about but rather taking the shallow stereotypes around feminsm and women’s rights. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hg3umXU_qWc Check the African Feminist Charter on feminism that articulates it quite well.

  9. Sane

    Perhaps its time now for you and other feminists to respect men. So many feminists don’t even know how to cook an onion and boil carrots. how can this be women empowerment. And also there are so many feminists out there who even ridicule women, women who don’t follow their rules. Don’t even understand why their is so much of vitriol against some housewives by so many feminists. Its jealousy ofcourse cuz they are able to live happy without following their artificial rules, so they don’t like them. Perhaps its time they learn some laundry and some basic cooking.

    1. Sophie

      What has cooking got to do with anything? Who said a woman has to know how to cook? Do you have the same kind of disgust on men who say dont know how to change a tire? I know men who can cook better than women and women who can change tires, mechanical issues better than men and that is neither here nor there. Feminism is not about hating men, and when you speak of respect what does that mean? Isnt respect be a two way? Men respect women and women respect men?https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hg3umXU_qWc

  10. Sophie

    You are misinformed on what feminism is all about. It is political yes, it feels better to be ‘subtle’ and face issues head on, if feminism is about gender equality, then why cant it be called feminism? see this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hg3umXU_qWc

    1. Archeeta

      I didn’t say it can’t be called feminism. All I said is that a lot of people, both men and women, hear the word feminism and wrongly assume it is about women demanding supremacy over men, thus reducing centuries of sacrifice and activism to mere arguments about ‘lazy women not wanting to cook’. Just see some of the comments below ! They clearly haven’t read the article but have lost no time in instructing me to go home and perform a number of tasks from boiling carrots to washing dishes.

    2. Sophie

      It is true that there is this misguided notion that women must be in the kitchen. Those propagating that should tell us why then we have Chefs in the big hotels, flight attendants being men. Bottom line, the latter is paid for, so women ‘must do’ the kitchen work when it is free but when we get to paid work it becomes a men’s domain. I am reminded of a quote “Women belong to the kitchen…and the senate”

  11. Alex

    Brilliant!

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