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?
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:
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.