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Perks Of Dating A Feminist: “I Love Her For Being My Critic And Catalyst For Change”

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By Rageeth R Kollatt:

My girlfriend is a freelance writer, author, a marketing consultant, world traveler, yoga enthusiast, and in her own words a “full-time feminist”. She is a smart, attractive, charming, well-read, independent woman. I love her for who she is and I admire her for her success, ambitions, and dreams and respect her for being better than me at a lot of things. Being in a relationship with a partner who has strong ideals and vision has presented me the chance to converse, debate and learn. I love her for inspiring me; I love her for being my critic and catalyst for change. It’s liberating to see the person I love, believe in endless possibilities, and be the owner of a free and open mind. And the things I have learnt from her about feminism is what makes me write this article.

Image Source: Rageeth Kollatt
Image Source: Rageeth Kollatt

Any message propagating equal rights for women instigates a barrage of debates on both women’s and men’s right. The social media comes alive with internet trolls bombarding both the messenger and the movement. Most campaigns talk openly about women having/wanting the freedom to choose their work, attire, marriage, or decisions regarding sexual orientation, or sexual intercourse. They articulate how women are not bound to society or their male counterparts when it comes to their personal decisions. In a country such as India, that still holds strong that patriarchy is culture, this notion does not sit well.

Feminism by definition means “the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes”. The key word here is “equality”. It’s not empowering one sex over the other; rather it is neutralizing the power imbalance. It is about elevating or empowering women, often unreasonably termed “the weaker sex”, who have been forced to battle an uphill battle.

Over the years, my camaraderie with radical feminists has aided me, in understanding and acknowledging the realities of both, “hostile sexism” and the concealed “benevolent sexism”. Hostile sexism which is relatively easier to identify is a general dislike towards women, emphasizing on the differences between women and men, and a devaluation of women. Benevolent sexism, which is harder to identify, is men assuming the role of protectors, implying in essence, that woman need to be protected. Personally I am not against men being chivalrous, but ask yourself if your kindness and graciousness is restricted to women alone because then you stand the chance to be frowned upon.

According to Caroline Bird (American author and feminist) “Sexism is judging people by their sex when sex doesn’t matter. Sexism is intended to rhyme with racism”. A profound statement which helps us better understand sexism and its effects. Sexism is as manifested and prevalent as racism is, and inhibits the growth of a progressive, free-thinking society.

The biggest problem is not in accepting that it is an issue, which needs to be adequately dealt with but the fact that many still consider sexism as a norm or as a customary practice – epitomizing women as the weaker sex, meant to be homemakers, constraining them to the notion of being pretty, dignified, motherly and novel, which leads to many tribulations such as gendered pay gaps, being stereotyped as sex “objects” or even these “wonderful beings”. A condemnatory statement such as, “You are a women/man” which confines you to behave/live a certain way is as offensive and undignified as saying, “Oh you are an Indian/ Pakistani/Chinese/African and hence you are supposed to be a certain way/ can’t do certain things”.

So what about men? Aren’t men treated differently based on sex? Absolutely! Men are forced to don the role of being the financial provider for the family; expected to be stable, practical, and career focused. Men are expected to take on many of the toughest and harshest jobs (mining, the army, firefighting, waste collection etc). They are ostracized and projected to be crude, violent and impassive and are considered poor caregivers. As a result they tend to lose custody of their children in most divorce cases. Many men are plagued by false rape accusations. In India the moment a woman files an FIR (First Information Report) against a man, the police can arrest the accused without any form of preliminary investigation. Masculinity is such a preconceived notion that often allegations of domestic violence committed by women are considered trivial, since men are expected to be stronger and competent of withstanding both emotional and physical agony.

The sole purpose of writing this is to impede discrimination of any kind, and is not in any way an effort to devalue men or to present women with unprecedented privileges. A motion for equality of the sexes should be the transformation in the attitude an intellectual society should strive for rather than enforced by law.

Does this make me a feminist? Absolutely!

Dedicated to my girl, for making me a better person.

You must be to comment.
  1. A Feminist

    Really happy 4 u n ur girl ☺ U both r lucky 2 find gr8 partners!!!! Usually men see a feminist as a misandrist or violent women who want female superiority in d society bt i guess u hv ggot d ryt meaning of feminism which is as simple as equality 4 all sexes.. With men lyk u d the battle 4 equality will bcm easier ???? Best of luck wid ur lives

    1. Rageeth Kollatt

      Thank you !

    2. Rageeth Kollatt

      Thank you 🙂

  2. Kevin

    Promise to write an update in following years? In Canada men are 70% of the homeless, 80%+ of suicides and 90% of workplace deaths. You are young and in love, period. You have met a women that you think is compatible. Maybe your eyes have been opened or maybe you are blinded. As a 50 yr old male, I would guess the latter.

    1. Rageeth Kollatt

      Dear 50 Year old Kevin,

      Thank You for the insight,

      The problems you have highlighted are indeed profound but they are related to feminism how ?

      It doesn’t matter if I’m in Love or not, what matters is the aspiration for the betterment of society on the whole.

  3. Not a feminist

    I become a little sad every time I see a man succumb to the feminist bullshit over a vagina privileges

  4. GLORIA STEINEM (not verified)

    There are these naive men who think it is about equality, and there are these extremely fucking stupid ones, who think talking pro-feminism will get them laid.

  5. Dikshant Gotewal

    Very few people really understand Feminism. Kudos Guys. Long Way to go!

  6. Samarjit

    ” Many men are plagued by false rape accusations. In India the moment a woman files an FIR (First Information Report) against a man, the police can arrest the accused without any form of preliminary investigation. Masculinity is such a preconceived notion that often allegations of domestic violence committed by women are considered trivial, since men are expected to be stronger and competent of withstanding both emotional and physical agony. ”

    oh dear oh darling ! such horrors men face ! ….maybe you would be obliged to present the percentage of false cases compared to the cases of rape which are not lodged, which do not get lodged, cases which drag on for years, without justice, and you are talking about false cases, wah ! makes sense, feminist with patriarchal logic.

    and maybe next time you can find out from your feminist girlfriend why the provision for prima facie arrest if so essential. 🙂

    cheers !

    and please don’t start talking about domestic violence on men

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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