This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Abhinandita Dev. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Why We Wouldn’t Need To Defend Feminism If People Understood This Simple Thing About It

By Abhinandita Dev:

A demonstrator standing on a barricade erected by police shouts slogans during a protest rally organised by various women's organisations in New Delhi December 21, 2012. Thousands of protesters took to the streets in various parts of the country to demand urgent action against the men who took turns to rape a 23-year-old woman on a moving bus on December 16, local media reports said. REUTERS/Mansi Thapliyal (INDIA - Tags: CRIME LAW CIVIL UNREST) - RTR3BT7J
Image credit: Reuters/Mansi Thapliyal.

Being a feminist in India is something that leads you to discover the fact that a very small percentage of people around you understand the meaning of this supposedly heavy term. This discovery stems from the fact that feminism, as seen by the society at large, is not what one should perceive it to be. Being a nineteen-year-old girl who has grown up in a society which increasingly has been partial against the ‘less advantaged sex’, I had a very natural instinct of being insistent on being treated equally. But even before I came across this textbook definition of feminism, right from my childhood, I was always eager to be heard. The problematization of the female voice which I now study in the plays of Shakespeare as a student of English literature did have implications on my life right from infancy.

A story about one of my father’s colleague has been narrated to me many times since childhood. It served as a great source of humour for the whole family. The funny man removed some amount of money from the envelope he wanted to gift to the new born child as a blessing, on discovering that I was not a boy. We easily grew up believing it to be an incident which exposed the miserliness of that funny man and his outdated beliefs. Little did I know as a child that his outdated beliefs would not be outdated even 18 years later.

I grew up in a middle-class household with my parents and a younger brother. I cannot remember an instance when my parents consciously discriminated between the two of us because of my gender. Yet, why did I as a child always consider it so important to have the right to voice my beliefs? Was it because even when I was unaware of the complicated state of gender in a society as patriarchal as ours, I was aware of the fact that the lady who came to wash clothes at my house was beaten by her drunk husband? Was it because I often heard my elders talking about a girl being raped by ‘a man’ or ‘some men’? Was it because my mother was scared out of her wits when the rickshaw puller, who was supposed to fetch a gas cylinder for us, took me on a ride without informing her? Was it because a young neighbour told my mother about being assaulted on her way to work? Was it because I as a child was repeatedly warned of both known and unknown men and was told to tell everything to my parents so that no one could exploit me (Exploit how? I did not know). Or was it because a teenaged boy put his hand inside my underwear while I was returning from the bus stop in class three? (I shouted out of surprise and was ‘luckily’ not raped as this happened at the very entrance of the block, my house was situated in and the boy ran away)

As I grew up, I became aware of the state of women in our society. I came to know about how employment opportunities were opening up for women; how women were rising in every field; how the struggle for equal pay was actually showing positive results; how women were no longer confined to their homes and how real emancipation was taking place where many of them walked with men at an equal pace and with equal opportunities of education and employment.

I also came to know of cases like the Badaun gang rape and the Delhi gang rape. I learned about practices like honour killing and female foeticide and infanticide. I grew up in a society where eve teasing was not even recognised as a crime until a point of time, and where marital rape is still not recognised as a crime. I heard about horrific cases of acid attacks and human trafficking. I struggled to live with an optimistic outlook in this society and I did succeed to a point with the support and love of my family and friends. Apart from instances of eve teasing which were considered perfectly normal by one and all, I did not face any other potential sexual threat to my existence as a woman until I came to college.

I joined Delhi University to study literature. I did not like Delhi right from my childhood, not because of the many cases of assault against women reported in the capital of India (which did imprint a prejudiced image of the city in my mind later) but also because I disliked it for its pollution, overpopulation, and heat. I had grown up in places like Haridwar, Rishikesh, Sarsava and Hashimara which were so close to nature and peace that Delhi scared me whenever we visited our relatives during childhood. However, the fact that Delhi University had its own advantages and the fact that I got admission in the desired college helped me keep my insecurities about the city aside and look forward to completing my graduation here.

Once I started living in the city of Delhi, things turned out to be not as bad as I imagined (I believed so). Things were pretty much the same actually. People did tease me when I walked on the streets. I encountered this housemaid who had been married at a young age, was uneducated and was living a hollow existence away from her family working for other people. People did judge me from what I wore. I heard of crimes being committed against women quite regularly and, like earlier, felt disgusted and at the same time vulnerable and helpless to change the state of affairs.

College started. I was surprised when my course made me encounter the history and complexities of the construction of gender for ages at various places in the world. The problems which I grew up believing to be specific to India had been bothering women for centuries. The root of all the inequality and exploitation turned out to be nothing but patriarchy which had seeped into the bones of men and women alike and had lead to the mental enslavement of people towards believing and preaching this inequality as the only right thing.

When I talk about being a feminist in India I talk of an experience which comprises of my interactions with society, and my understanding of it. What is feminism to the people of India? It is equality between men and women for the educated. It is a strange word for the uneducated that sometimes don’t even recognise the division of gender as unfair at all. I say this optimistically hoping that all the educated people, at least, recognise it as unfair. When I tried examining the state of women and how the perceptions of the ‘aware’ and ‘unaware’ classes affected it I realised there lay a great irony in the way this mechanism functions. I will use a real life example to elucidate on it. It is derived from my own experience when I was 16 years old and had gone to attend a national cultural convention of a reputed cultural society.

The head of the society, a well-educated man who had received his education in institutions as prestigious as the Indian Institute of Technology announced at the conference hall that no girls should be seen outside the hostels assigned to them after eleven p.m. I was puzzled. I asked the teacher who was accompanying us why this announcement would only apply to girls and not boys?

She replied in a confident and sarcastic tone, “Girls get raped, not boys.”

I was even more confused. I gathered courage and spoke again, “But ma’am is it not true that boys rape girls? So should not the boys be asked to shut themselves up after eleven instead of girls? After all is rape a crime or wandering after eleven is?”

She looked at me in silence for a few seconds and then told me that I was a rebel. This example sums up the problem of gender inequality. It is so deeply rooted in the mind and heart of our society at large that even education has failed to remove it completely. The education system too for a long time has been dominated by men and thus, it has been unable to include the essential change of mindset required to be inculcated in the fertile minds of children. In ancient India, the ‘guru-shishya parampara’ barred women from even being given an opportunity to be educated and the disparity, though diminished, continues to exist till today. In Victorian England, governesses were appointed to not educate women but make them accomplished in the lady-like qualities of knitting, singing and drawing and were supposed to act as protectors of the gender hierarchy.

If we consider the urban middle-class households today, yes, women are stepping out of the four walls but does that imply that they are allowed to detach themselves from their assigned gendered roles? How many women can change tires when a car gets punctured and how many men can cook after a day of work for the whole family? And the implications of such gender oppression are two sided. It victimises both men and women. While women have to fight their way into leading an independent life, men are forced to work the way society wants them to, even when they don’t wish to. While women are objectified as mere sexual entities, men are objectified through the price tags placed on them to make them eligible in the ‘marriage market’. A change in mindset is evolving, but slowly. The percentage of people who are actually ready to accept it wholeheartedly is very less and people who are resistant to such change use the widespread ignorance to mould the thinking of those who are impartially aware.

I don’t believe feminism is about ‘hating men’. I don’t believe that all men are the same. There have been instances when I was travelling alone and was helped alike by both men and women. I have had auto rides where the driver talked to me about issues ranging from the elections of the student union in the Delhi University to the serenity of Rishikesh and did not make me feel uncomfortable for a moment. I have been dropped home safe at one in the night by an auto driver. In a country where women are fighting for breaking menstrual taboos I was treated by a bus driver like his own daughter when I told him I needed to use the washroom in the middle of a long journey.

I believe chivalry needs to be displaced by equal humanitarian concern in both genders. I think women don’t need and should not ask for reservations – be it in a competitive entrance or for educational and employment opportunities (I feel differently about those metro rides). I say that because I believe that when I talk of equality, I also talk of equal capability of both the sexes. I also recognise the fact that laws which are made for protecting women against exploitation can potentially be misused to file false cases and strongly insist on the need for a legal procedure to punish false complainants too. I realise that generalising and considering each man a potential rapist in not correct and strongly condemn it. I am sad about the fact that I have to clarify all this in order to not be misunderstood by the reader.

If feminism was a concept well understood by all, doing this would not have been necessary. All said and done, the fact remains that none of it negates the fact that women have suffered and continue to suffer more. We need feminism but before that, we need to accept the fact that we need it. We need to stop considering feminists rebels. As a society, we need to break through our comfort zones and look at this paradoxical institution called patriarchy in a more serious light. A change of mindset must evolve, and it needs to be incorporated both in the education system and the value system of Indian families. We have to rise together, and if we pledge to do so, real useful change can be brought about.

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  1. Batman

    Women talk about equality in only those scenarios where it benefits them, while trying to benefit from the privileges that society, law, family, and people in general shower on them. Here are 25 reasons why there is no such thing as gender equality.

    1. Seats are reserved for women on buses.
    2. Women are rescued first from wrecked ships.
    3. The media only focuses on women’s issues for ratings.
    5. World’s most dangerous jobs are worked by men, safest by women.
    4. News channels announce deaths of ‘women’ and children.
    6. Juries discriminate against men in domestic violence disputes.
    7. Women have special quotas in the political scenario and corporate world.
    8. Women receive lighter sentences for the same crimes committed by men.
    9. Child custody is given to women is divorce courts, in the majority of cases.
    10. Men have to earn for women, but women are not under any obligation to earn for men.
    11. Domestic violence and dowry are seen as women’s issues, while men are the prime victims.
    12. Men are forced to pay alimony to women. Women don’t give alimony to men.
    13. Men are used as ATMs. Women always marry men who are richer, earn more, ‘well-settled’.
    14. Men die on jobs daily. 97% of work related deaths are of men.
    15. Draconian laws where women land men in jail through fake cases of rape, dowry, domestic violence
    16. Men must get down on their knees and propose.
    17. Separate compartment and reserved seats for women in metros.
    18. Women are released first in hostage situations.
    19. Most teachers hired in schools are women.
    20. Men have to pay child support, not women.
    21. Women rescued first from burning buildings.
    22. Men are expected to buy flowers, chocolates, rings, gifts on Valentine’s day.
    23. Lifeboats are reserved for women.
    24. All the awareness and funding for breast cancer. Little for prostate cancer.
    25. Men make up the majority of war casualties, homeless, jobless, suicides.

  2. Abhinandita Dev

    @Batman
    I am amazed at your ignorance of the other side of the whole issue.

    1.I made a point about how women should not and need not take reservation because when i talk about equality, i talk about equal capabilities too. Also, gender equality is a two edged term, so if a sick man needs a seat more than a healthy woman,she would offer it to him, if she understands what feminism and gender equality actually stand for. The same goes for reservation in politics, education, jobs etc.

    2. I don’t know what you have against children but since we are talking about gender equality, the reason why women are rescued first from a wrecked ship and a burning building is that the society functions in a way where women are expected to be weak and delicate and always in need of a man for support. It fuels the confidence of a man in being the owner and protector of the other gender. That is why women grow up in a certain way and men grow up in a certain way. Because the roles are pre-imposed on a child as soon as he/she is born. However gender equality does not support that, nor do i. I believe that needs to change.

    3. The media sadly enough does not focus enough on women’s issue. What is reported is not even 10% of what a woman suffers on a daily basis because of her gender. Take eve teasing or being groped during a metro ride for instance, it is never even reported because it is considered completely normal by the society; something you have to live with being a girl.

    4. About world’s most dangerous jobs, the same logic of how women are constructed in a way that they develop within the boundaries of patriarchy into beings that are supposed to be weak and meek and in need of support always. Even when women try to digress it they are usually discouraged. I have talked to people who think women are not fit for being a part of the army; let alone other dangerous jobs.

    6. This is a very subjective comment. I know a lot of women who did not get justice despite horrifying evidence of the violence being present. It can take years for a woman to speak up against the act of domestic violence considering the insensitivity of the legal and social structures that are more than often inclined towards notions that are pro-patriarchy.

    7. When you talk about child custody, you must know that it is a task for women to get it because of the fact that a small percentage of them are economically able to support a child and men always have the advantage of being the bread earners. Also every case in different, in some cases the father might be accused of violence or drug/alchohol addiction and the child cannot be given to him. Generalisng does not help. It is a very shallow.

    8. I already mentioned that patriarchy is a double edged sword and it putsboth men and women under undue oblogations that are socially imposed.The whole notion of men being ATMs and women marrying rich men is a result of it. Men tend to suffer from the expectation of earning and sustaining a family while women suffer from the chains that don’t let them wlsustain thenselves. Blame patriarchy for it, not gender equaltiy. And i really don’t get how men dying while being at work is a case against gender equality. More men die because more men work. It is simple math. Do you know how many women die while giving birth ? How will you like it if it is used against men ? No point right ? Because men don’t give birth. Try applying it to your notion of men doing dangerous jobs and dying.

    9. Domestic violence and dowry are issues that affect both the genders. But men are not the ‘prime’ victims. Women suffer under these social evils, and so do men but women have and continue to suffer more and we have to accept it if we want to really improve things. Also did you read my article ? Because i already mentioned my views on false complains and how there should be a mechanism to fix it.

    10.About men getting down on their knees and the whole chivalric tradition, i made a point about how chivalry needs to be replaced by equal humanitarian concern. A seat should be offered to someone who needs it more. And about metro reservation, i travel daily in metro and being in a general compartment is the most uncomfortable experience any girl has even had. I don’t know a single girl who has not faced sexual abuse while travelling in a general compartment, be it staring or groping or passing sexually provocative or insulting comments. Can you men guarantee that would stop happening to girls if they enter the general compartment. No right ? So think before you say something like that. You have problem with one reserved compartment and not with all the un-reserved ones . In an ideal world, i would have loved to travel in ametro with no reservation of seats but the reality is too grim.

    I repeat that gender equality talks about both genders and patriarchy is a paradoxical social machinery that affects both men and women. Gender equality is a force against patriarchy not against men.

  3. qasim

    I’ve understood this simple thing,
    let’s start with a demonstration against women’s reservation, exemption from paying fees in entrance exams,.
    let’s also demand unisex sports teams instead of different teams and athletics categories for men and women.

    Penalties for filing false rape, assault, harassment etc cases.

    Also, the extra gender marks given to them in IIM interviews.
    last one is most important for me.

  4. Abhinandita Dev

    @Qasim
    I am glad you did. And yes reservation is something, i also feel needs to be scrapped out. But don’t you think acts of sexual violence, acid attacks, genital mutilation, female infanticide are the things that we need to ‘Start with’. Are they not more alarming to you ?

  5. Abhinandita Dev

    @Qasim Also i already made a point about the need of a mechanism to adress the problem of false complains but here is a fact that we all are ignoract of : the percentage of false rape cases is calculated by subtracting the total no. Of cases in which the alleged offender is found to be guilty from the total no. Of reported cases. I hope you are able to see the paradox.

  6. B

    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

  7. B

    When blacks were forced to leave seats for whites, we called it slavery. When men are told/forced/shamed to leave seats for women, we call it politeness. By the way, do you know that a man is abused by his wife/girlfriend every 14.6 seconds? Studies show that women are more violent when it comes to relationships.

  8. Spider-Man

    Why is it that all schools comprise mostly of female staff members, who are not willing to leave their comforts despite being underpaid while their husbands are left to toil in metropolitan cities in order to earn a good salary, have to live in small rented apartments, travel to work in the sweltering heat, eat unhygienic and insipid food at ‘dhabas’, save every penny, travel every weekend to see their families and bear a lot of pain and headaches. Some shift to the middle-east and live in perpetual misery, miss their kids and send whatever they earn back home. Difference in position or salary depends on how much you are willing to sacrifice. Men do it. Women don’t. A man sheds blood, tears, and sweat to provide his wife ease and comfort. He toils in the office, all day, everyday, working endless hours, putting up with a lot of stress. Men spend their whole lives earning for women. How many women can honestly say they are willing to spend a lifetime earning for a man?

  9. Spider-Man

    Watch Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2.

  10. Abhinandita Dev

    @Spiderman I don’t know what schools are you talking about when you say all schools have more female teachers. I have studied in seven schools due to my mother’s transeferable job (who also by the way is a teacher and has as many male colleagues as female) and i have had more male teachers than female. Right now i am in college and two out my three papers are being taught my men. Do you know women were not even allowed to read let alone teach for a long time. And no men don’t suffer alone and women don’t rest at homes. Domestic labour is not considered labour by people. And what do you have to say about women who toil for their familiesby engaging in proffesions like domestic help and all thier earnings are snatched away from their husbands and they and their children are forced to live a depressing and backward life. I have come across so many such women. And the sad part is that we cry about being forced to work but we don’t see the roots to it. Less women work because less women are allowed to work. Patriarchy as an instituition thus leads to double oppresion of both men and women. Did you even read my article, i already made this point. And also try not shaping your opinion of things by one sided accounts that movies like ‘Pyar ka punchnama’ provide you. It is the depiction of one side of the reality. There are thousands of others.

  11. Abhinandita Dev

    @B
    If we are talking about statistics then 3 out of every 65 women you know has been raped. You should go and have a look at statistics about unreported crimes. I could have replied with statistics but trust me there is no end to them. I am glad you provided that times of india hyperlink. One of my friends had the complaint that the media does not cover men’s problems. Also i already mentioned my views on false rape cases and chivalry in the article. Please read it.All that you said can be resolved if we blame patriarchy for our problems instead of equality.

  12. Monistaf

    Abhinandita – Just repeating the dictionary definition of feminism does not negate the decades of empirical data that establishes reality. Feminism, as a movement has never been about gender equality. How can you claim to fight for gender equality while focusing exclusively on issues of one gender.
    One quote in your article, “Girls can get raped, boys can’t”. Have you thought about where this comes from? Let me explain, it is IPC section 375 which deals with rape. Only women and girls can be victims of rape!! According to the law in India, male rape is NOT recognized, it is legal. If you consider
    prison rape, like in the USA, more men, than women are raped. Feminists in India are fighting against gender neutrality of the law. What exactly are they terrified about?
    IPC section 354 (a thru j) that defines sexual harassment, again only in terms of a male perpetrator and a female victim. So, men can be sexually harassed at the workplace and on the streets and molested. Not against the law.
    DV act of 2005 – Only women can be victims of domestic abuse, even though abuse can be psychological, emotional, verbal, physical or financial. In the USA where the law is gender neutral, 43% of the victims are male. We will never know in India, since a husband can be abused legally by his wife.
    Only a man is required to pay alimony to his wife, never the other way around in India. Once women are required to pay their fair share it is called “manimony”, they get upset and are fighting to change legislation in New Jersey and Florida to abolish lifetime alimony. You see when the shoe is on the other foot, it is becomes painful.
    Sentencing disparity is a fact across all court systems. For the same crime, a man is punished more severely (up to 60% longer sentences)
    Only a wife in India has rights to her husbands property (both inherited and earned). Not the other way round. Why not?
    IPC section 497 that talks about adultery. Only a man can be arrested even though the relationship can be initiated by a wife or another woman.
    The infamous section 498A. A husband and his family can be arrested by a mere allegation from his wife, with no evidence or probable cause, striping him of his universal human rights of presumption of innocence and due process in a court of law. Feminists are opposed to any change in the current law. They do not understand
    or care that these universal human rights are not barriers to justice, they are on the contrary, its very essence.

    To top it off, 80% of the victims of violent crimes in India are men, they also comprise 97% of workplace deaths, 99% of combat deaths, 76% of homeless, the vast majority of suicides and the untold numbers that are sexually assaulted, molested and raped.
    If feminism is truly about its “dictionary definition”, why is there not a single feminist that is fighting for the issues on the other side of the gender divide?
    How come feminists do not oppose hashtags like #killallmen, #killallwhitemen, #banfathersday etc? Isn’t that sexism? Isn’t that hatred?
    How come feminists oppose the creation of men’s groups on university campuses across the world. How come feminists want to ban the recognition of international men’s day to talk about men’s issues?

    Feminism today is an ideology that discredits the humanity of men and diminishes their pain while perpetuating the victim status of women.
    Why would anyone defend such an ideology? There is a good reason for the term “feminazi”.
    The number of young women in the USA who consider themselves feminists has dropped from 23% to 18%, in the UK from 13% to 8%.
    Check out hashtag #womenagainstfeminism or look it up on youtube. Listen to ex-feminists like Christina Hoff Sommers, Janice Fiemengo and so many others who have
    recognized the rabid toxicity of modern day feminism.

  13. Abhiandita

    @Monistaf : A.The empirical data that you think establishes the fact that feminism is not about Gender Equality seems to miss out on the very basis of the movement. Feminism as a movement started in the 19th and early 20th C.E. when women were not recognized as ‘humans’ and thus were devoid of any human rights. It is interesting to note that one of the very early feminists, Mary Wollstonecraft wrote an essay called ‘A vindication of the rights of MEN’ before she wrote her revolutionary essay ‘A Vindication of the rights of Women’. In ‘A Vindication of the rights of MEN’ she argued that men and women deserve EQUAL RIGHTS. So your argument that feminism was never about gender equality comes out to be fallacious.

    B.Regarding the loopholes in the legal system, I have made my stand very clear in my article itself.

    C. Here is a simple example that would make you understand how feminism is essentially about gender equality:
    Let us assume that there are two people in a room. One has two candies while the other has none. Now a third person walks in and is asked to distribute more candies in such a way that the disparity between the two is erased and the two of them have exactly the same no. of candies. The third person hands one candy to the person having two candies and three candies to the person having no candies, thus balancing the inequality between the two. The third person here is a feminist, the person who had two candies is the male subject and the person that had no candies is the female subject. I here assume that you are at least not blind to the fact that women have been second class citizens and you know the technicalities of the term.
    What I am trying to establish here is the fact that there is difference between “special treatment” and “better treatment”. The feminist is not the person who snatches away candies from the first person to balance the disparity. The feminist instead establishes equality by ‘giving’. This is fundamentally the point of my article. Feminism is a greatly misunderstood concept and yes it operates differently in different socio-political conditions considering how deep the disparity that needs to be removed is. But that does not take away the bid for equality of both genders from it. Equality in itself is a by-conditional term which automatically involves change in the state of two entities.

    D.When you talk about hate posts for men, and when you don’t talk about hate posts for women, you need to understand a very simple thing about it. Dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against men is called MISANDRY. It is NOT called feminism. Dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women is called MISOGYNY. And in the world that we live in, BOTH of them exist.
    The word feminazi is something with which i neither identify myself, nor do i understand the concept behind it. I refuse to let the hatred of certain men for women, define feminism as a toxic ideology and make it look monstrous.

    E.And you seems to be very much against claiming victim-hood but you contradict yourself by providing the statistics in your comment. I feel it is necessary for you to also have a look at these statistics too, because my article was originally titled ‘Being a feminist in India’:
    1.Over the last three years there were over 24,000 reported dowry deaths in India.
    2.As many as 70% of married women in India between 15 and 49 years of age are victims of beating or rape,
    3. According to the 2011 study, 72% of acid attack cases in India from 2002 to 2010 included at least one female victim.
    4. According to UNICEF, foetal sex determination by unethical medical professionals has today grown into a Rs.1000 crore industry in India.
    5. Following the 2011 census, a no. of activists raised concerns that up to 8 million female foetuses had been aborted in the previous decade.
    6. Although child marriage is illegal in India, almost half of all women between the age of 20 and 14 years were married off before the legal age of 18.
    7. According to a report, India shows “extremely high levels of gender inequality”, with a Gender Parity Score of 0.48 compared to an ideal score of 1.
    8. A recent survey revealed that the median wage for women in India was 27% lower than what men make.
    9. According to the National Crime Record Bureau’s 2014 report, 39.8% of rape victims in India are girls under the age of 8.
    10. While the male literacy rate of India stands at 82.14%, the female literacy rate is only 65.46%, with Rajasthan having the lowest female literacy rate of 52.66%
    11. And despite an improving child sex ratio, India still ranks an abysmal 127th out of 146 in the UN’s Gender Inequality Index.

  14. Monistaf

    How does the empirical data miss the “very basis” of the movement. The Movement that opposes equal legal rights for men? If that is NOT misandry what is it? Is that not prejudice against men? Who exactly in India is supporting this prejudice? The feminists, the last time I checked. So, yes, feminism is about misandry since it frames ALL discussions around “women have problems and men are the problem”.
    Your simple example does not work!! If given equal opportunities, a man has earned two candies, and a woman has earned one, then they deserve to enjoy the fruits of their labor. It has NEVER been about equal outcomes, it has always been about equal opportunities. Feminists believe in this unrealistic, utopia of equal outcomes. 20% of the population in the country are muslims, does that mean we have to have 20% of the CEO’s as muslim?
    Nobody is naive enough to believe that you just give an extra candy to the female. In most practical situations, you do not have that luxury like you mention in your example. You have to take it from the male to give it to the female, and that is exactly what is happening today.
    With regards to median wage, indentured labor is outlawed in India If you do not think you are paid what you are worth, get out and find someone who will pay you what you think is fair. No one can force you to work against your will. There are plenty of men who get paid at different rates in spite of working at the same level. The feminists love to complain about it because once you are sold on the victim narrative, everything
    is someone else’s fault.
    Of course, I provide statistics in my comment, not to parade the victimhood mentality which is the exclusive and prized asset of the feminists, but to call out the fact that there is so much injustice being perpetrated against men in the name of feminism, even in our legislation. Feminism, in India and elsewhere has become a movement for exploiting the public gender empathy gap to strengthen the female victim narrative
    and pass gendered legislation and quota’s that privilege women at the expense of men. It is practically synonymous with misandry, like yourself, because of overwhelming evidence you are forced to accept and acknowledge the injustices towards men, but cannot openly stand up against it, even in the spirit of “gender equality”
    70% of married women are victims of rape and beatings? 200 million married women in INdia, that would mean, 140 million. The numbers simply don’t add up!! If they are unreported, then, how would you know? They are “unreported”, so stop making stuff up.
    There are more male suicides in one year than the dowry deaths in three years.
    72% of the female infanticide is initiated by mothers-in-law, grandmothers, sisters. 99% of the sex determination ultrasounds are done by females. Over 90% of the abortions are done by females. The mother has to consent for an abortion. I think this is mostly a “female” problem, but you see, the feminists simply cannot fault women since they can never be wrong. It has to be the men.
    Child marriages are already against the law, use it.
    The mythical gender wage gap again? If every for profit business could hire a female worker for 27% less than the male for equivalent work, they would do it in a hearbeat, because that is one sure way to increase your profits.
    If you don’t like what you are paid, negotiate a better wage or get out and find someone else who will pay you what you think is fair.
    38% of the rape victims are girls under the age of 8. Until you tell me how many boys under the age of 8 are raped, you are not for gender equality, because you see you cannot fight for gender equality by focusing on issues of only one gender.
    Literacy is open to everyone. There is not a single law on the books in India today that denies opportunities for women, which is why there are so many accomplished women in the country, including a prime minister for 15 years.

  15. Abhinandita

    @Monistaf: What you are trying to do is create a illusion of this being a ‘women against men debate’ whereas in reality feminism and this article are essentially about slamming ‘patriarchy: the stigma that victimizes both women and men’ and not ‘men’. Your insecurity about it seems to arise from the common belief that uplifting women means pushing men down(as is evident from your understanding of the candy example) which is not the case. Feminism is not about opposing men’s rights, it is about supporting women’s rights.

    You are very right when you talk about equal opportunities rather than outcomes. That is exactly what my point is based on. We don’t live in a world where men and women have equal opportunities. Feminists are trying to create an ideal world where your suggestion would make sense. The wage gap which you discard as being mythical is a very real thing and we see it around us in everyday life. I don’t get what makes you blind to it. When you ask a woman to switch a job if she is not treated equally, what you fail to take into account is the fact that most of the alternatives are equally exploitative. You also miss out on the lack of jobs in our country, the unemployment rate being fairly high. When you ask a woman to access education as and when she likes, you very conveniently forget: a) the lack of access to quality education at affordable prices in our country b) the reluctance of parents to spend on a girl’s education c) the control practiced under patriarchy over a girl’s choices and actions. Also, literacy is “not” open to everyone and there is difference between literacy and education. (This reality too is very much visible in a city as modern as Delhi, you might also be able to see it if you choose to look around)

    About acknowledging the problems of men. I don’t get where the disagreement lies because I have already quoted my views regarding it in the article. I state it for the last time : patriarchy is a double edged sword that affects BOTH men and women. BOTH men and women need to change in order to make way for GENDER EQUALITY.

    I strongly refute the point that female infanticide is a women’s problem. Under patriarchy women are often used to re-enforce exploitation. Men and women inherit this sick ideology through generations. And I hope you live in a world real enough to realize that a mother’s consent can be easily obtained through coercive ways and even brutal force. That is why I repeatedly argue that we need to understand patriarchy before combating it.
    Here is the link to the article from which the stats in my previous comment are borrowed, because your providing stats without an authentication is ‘calling out of facts’ and a woman doing the same is ‘making stuff up’ (I cannot help but smell misogyny) : https://www.buzzfeed.com/shayanroy/facts-about-gender-inequality-in-india?utm_term=.sr34WWL30
    Also, fun fact: An unreported crime is not a crime that did not “happen”, it was a crime that is not reported and there are ways of calculating it. It is not “made-up”. It is not a myth.

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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.

Read more about her campaign.

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.

Read more about her campaign. 

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)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

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.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

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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