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So You Think You Don’t Need Feminism? Here’s Why You Are Wrong

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By Prerna Geeta Manian:

Beta tumhara poora haq hai yahan baithne ka, baitho” – this is what an older man said to a girl in the reserved seat for women in the men’s compartment of the metro. The tone of sarcasm was clearly resonating in my ears. This seemingly insignificant incidence points towards a larger problem in our society – that of rampant misinformation about the idea of feminism,

We are being exposed to a flawed understanding of feminism from all quarters. Take the Vogue Empower video that says “Teach boys not to make people cry rather than teaching them not to cry” for example. What purpose does it serve? What feminism will say is “Don’t teach anything to your child based on his or her sex. His sex should not determine his emotions or rather, anything.”

feminism1
Image Credit: Etsy.com

I don’t endorse the #Meninkitchen campaign too, because it upholds that men should ‘help’ women in the kitchen and learn to cook. Feminism is about equality – it states that cooking, or any kind of activity for that matter, cannot be defined by the gender of the person performing it. It is the historical and socio-cultural narrative of gender roles which makes cooking in the household a job reserved for women while men are more respected as a chef or a ‘khaansama‘.

The HeForShe movement is often condemned for ignoring the problems and inequalities faced by men and trying to involve men to solve and look into problems only for women. The very fact that inequalities being discussed only look upon female issues agrees upon a standard that men are never the victims, because being a victim is mostly a woman’s arena. It definitely ignores that men could be victims too.

Why calling it ‘fem‘inism and not things like ‘equal’-ism is more appropriate is because the harsh fact remains that though men and women both suffer from patriarchy, women were the ones who were more publicly victimised and marginalised. The fact that women are able to voice out in present times is because feminist movements helped them get those rights. Stereotypical gender roles made both women and men suffer, but historically what men mostly suffered was the pressure to rule, and women were ruled over.

What feminism needs to do is fight the very gendering of social processes – to remove gender as a judgement criteria. Yes, HeforShe is a great movement and tries to engage men for women’s rights, which are still not present in a lot of arenas of public sphere. But now it needs to embrace simultaneity, and also question what keeps some men from this conversation? What exactly are their reasons of discomfit for fighting for women? The answer maybe in the pressures they feel for being the more ‘responsible’ gender. HeForShe wants a conversation, but right now looks like a soliloquy.

The very distrust about feminism shows patriarchy’s overpowering nature. It is high-time a country like India with a dismal sex ratio understands that feminism is not something which goes against a particular gender, rather it is a movement which is against the gendering of everything – it wants a society that does not rest solely upon gender. A gender-less society is a utopia, but a society where both the genders are in flux and give and take from each other, and form a kind of cornucopia of wisdom, is what feminism wants – it wants a society where an individual wins over the society.

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  1. ItsJustMe

    Let me please start off with the very definition of feminism. Feminism is and I quote “the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.” So as you can see by definition itself feminism is as good as its name a movement to advocate rights of women and not men. Its ok please feel free to twist the phrase as much as you want to mean what you want it to mean.
    Secondly feminism has never been an advocate of mens rights. In fact feminists instead of acting with mens rights activists on the contrary has always been gainst the very idea of mens rights activism and its importance.
    Third and most important reason for no human being to ever recognize themselves as feminist is that it has played an important role in playing down the achievements of men and the role he plays in social and domestic life. It has degraded mens position in the family to that of sperm provider. If you are going to give me an argument like NAFALT, then please listen to Hilary Clinton’s latest statement about women being the biggest victims of war (she is renowned feminist idolized by women across the globe as this is what she has to say about war. When only 3% of the world’s fighting force consist of women and men lose their lives, get handicapped and lose their jobs as well in wars) and she is running for President’s office in USA. I can’t think of a situation in which some politician can make a statement which is sexist and in favor of men and get away with it. Or probably you should listen to another world renowned feminist Harriet Harman (who is also an MP in Britain) “It cannot be assumed that men are bound to be an asset to family life or presence of fathers in family is necessarily a means to social cohesion”. You just have to change the men to women and father to mother to see how absurd and sexist this comment is. Male disposibility, if he is useful then keep him, if he is not kick him out. It does not matter how he feels about loosing his child or family if the family does not get anything from him in return. Or the world’s most sexist judge Baroness Hale (Brenda Hale, Baroness is her title) who ruled that courts should rule out lenient sentences to girls and women.
    Or you are also part of mongrels who crucified a brilliant scientist Matt Taylor based on some graphics in his shirt, publicly humiliated him and made him weep on TV. Or the ones who got Nobel Proze winne Tim Hunt resign his office because he made a joke about women in science.
    It is not what you preach that matters, if you join hands with female supremists and call yourself one of them, you cannot blame the world for recognizing you as one of them.
    I know you would probably not even read half of my comment because you are a feminist and you will never recognize how sexist this movement is.
    I however want to get the attention of open minded women out there and men who have some misconceptions about feminism and is here to clarify. I cannot stand by and let these people be fooled into following a sexist, gender biased movement which has done more damage than good and put the genders in opposeite poles and judged them for what they are as human beings

  2. B

    Here is why I am not a feminist:

    The fact that dowry is a woman’s issue despite 3 times more deaths of men is laughable. The only people who are harassed for dowry are men, who must be earning a fat paycheck every month for starters to even be considered for marriage, and then at the time of marriage buy expensive jewellery, diamond rings, gifts for the bride’s entire family, and when things go awry in marriages, are harassed by women for dowry settlement worth lacs, alimony, and usurp half of a man’s property after a divorce. Women are the abusers. Men are the abused.

    According to NCRB Data, there were 2,22,091 arrests related to 498A in 2013 alone. A man is arrested every 3 minutes for dowry – 98% cases are false.

    From 2005 to 2008, as many as 22,000 men have ended their lives in reverse dowry harassment after allegedly being tormented by their wives. In contrast, dowry harassment has driven 6,800 women to suicide.

    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chandigarh/Harassed-over-dowry-men-demand-fair-play/articleshow/5241108.cms

    Since the media is bigoted and biased, it shows women as dowry victims whereas more than 3 times as many men commit suicide due to harassment from wives. The number of men victims of 498A alone outweigh all crimes against women.

    The movie 498A: The Wedding Gift was banned by feminists and National Commission of Women (NCW). Watch the trailer and also see Deepika Bharadwaj’s “Martyr’s Of Marriage”

    1. Blam

      Well you’re an idiot that much we know, not to mention an outright liar.

    2. ItsJustMe

      @Blam Can you disprove any of B’s points or is this just to your opinion that he is a liar because of his stand against feminism. If its the latter, then just keep it in your mind as it has zero relevance in this thread. It is not hard for someone with common sense to understand who is quoting facts here and who is just being hormonal

  3. G. Lantern

    According to an online survey conducted by Save Family Foundation and My Nation Foundation in April 2005 and March 2006, it was shockingly found out that, of 100,000 men who took the survey 98% men had faced severe domestic violence at the hands of their wives and in-laws in the form of verbal, physical, emotional, mental and financial abuse.

    http://www.youthkiawaaz.com/2012/09/domestic-violence-not-just-a-womens-issue-men-suffer-too/

    Point 1: Mothers-in-law are the biggest perpetrators of violence.

    Point2: Twice as many girls as boys are cyberbullies (Google it).

    Point3: Domestic violence statistics only comprise of physical violence, and do not take verbal, emotional, and psychological abuse at the hands of wives.

    Point 4: Even in schools, it is girls who are the primary abusers, and it has been revealed in many surveys and shown in films like Mean Girls, Mean Girls 2, Cyberbully.

    In the U.S. alone, a man is abused every 38 seconds.

    https://youtu.be/WC37RS6lLjE

  4. B

    Men are not seen as human beings in society, that is why we never talk about the biases that men face on a daily basis, women usurp half of men’s properties during divorces, courts give men stricter sentences for the same crimes that women commit, juries give verdicts against men in domestic disputes, women usurp half of men’s properties in divorce, men give alimony to women, misandry in the media, sexism against men, domestic violence against men, how men are locked up in false cases of rape, dowry, and domestic abuse, more than 3 times as many men die due to dowry harassment from women, domestic violence statistics do not take into account verbal and psychological abuse that men suffer from at the hands of their wives, yet we talk about violence being a woman’s issue.

    A man is assaulted by his wife/girlfriend every 14.6 seconds.

    http://www.chowrangi.pk/domestic-violence-against-men.html

    When husbands are victims of domestic violence

    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life-style/relationships/man-woman/When-husbands-are-victims-of-domestic-violence/articleshow/26031858.cms

    Why are so many MEN becoming victims of domestic violence?

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2518434/Why-MEN-victims-domestic-violence-Its-Britains-remaining-taboos-abuse-men-home-rise.html

    A Hidden Crime: Domestic Violence Against Men Is a Growing Problem

    http://www.dailyfinance.com/2010/01/30/a-hidden-crime-domestic-violence-against-men-is-a-growing-probl/

    Women More Likely to Commit Domestic Violence, Studies Show

    http://www.thenewamerican.com/usnews/crime/item/19133-women-more-likely-to-commit-domestic-violence-studies-show

  5. Batman

    If a man hits a man and he hits back, it is okay. If a woman hits a man and he hits back, it is not okay – WHY? Dual standards in every walk and field of life prove that there is no such idea as equality – equality is a lame excuse to suppress and oppress men.

    1. Batman Returns

      Dear Master Jerk, equality = no one hits no one. Please shut up now! Do not justify men hitting women just because you can justify men hitting men. Be less of a jerk, more of a batman. You sick piece of Gotham!

    2. ItsJustMe

      Hey Batman, if a man hits a woman in self defense its absolutely ok. Other than in the eyes of real retards like you.

    3. Batman

      Why is it okay for women to hit men but not the other way around? Hitting should be wrong, regardless of gender.

    4. Batman Forever

      Dear Ms Batgirl Returns isn’t the fact said by “the Batman” correct. There have been experiments done on the same and also proving the fact right.

  6. B

    Opening paragraph alone is enough proof that there is no such thing as equality, otherwise seats would not be reserved for women.

    1. Blam

      My god you are stupid. We are moving from a system of male control not from one of female control. I wonder what you have to say about other races?

  7. B

    I know my comments don’t go with the “all women are angels” tagline of this blog, but I think a blog which prides itself on freedom of speech should be publishing my comments.

    1. Blam

      Your comments are being published here stop pretending like you are in possession of a truth no one else has.

  8. vid

    It really makes me sad about the gender war which is going on in today’s world. I feel sorry for all the people who are consistently fighting like small kids, I think they are just kids in their minds. First of all, God made male and female to live with each other and respect their differences, not fight over them – why men are like that and why women are like that. If any person suffers violence there are usually more reasons behind it, and not just gender. Usually those people become easy victim who do not have a background support – emotionally, economically or even physically. That’s why children of either gender become easy victims for sexual abuse. What I feel is that in today’s era men just do not grow up, in their minds they are still children. That’s why I can see some people arguing over why can’t a man hit a woman. Biologically, we know that women go through intense physical and emotional ups and downs all the time, and physically they are weaker than men. A female body is not made to suffer such physical blows neither majority of women are aggressive by nature. Anyway, the way things are now I don’t think society is going to survive even the next 200 years. May be it would be a lot better if robots replace the humans altogether.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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