Reality Check: If You Believe In Gender Equality But Not ‘Feminism’, This Is For You

Posted on March 4, 2016 in Society

By Snigdha Priyadarshini:

Source: Flickr.

The most distorted, manipulated and misinterpreted word is what I choose to advocate with my all. Feminism, as defined in the Oxford Dictionary is “the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes”. Women of substance have gone great lengths to bring forth the waves of feminism. And people have also gone great lengths to subdue it.

I choose to write on this subject today for a particular friend who would often call me a feminist on trivial occasions thereby invoking the common belief that feminism is, in fact, an extremist ideology. I have always taken pride in calling myself a feminist and so it shocks me that young and educated women want to disassociate themselves from this word.

As much as I believe that an ideology cannot be imposed on someone, I am taken aback when people confess that they are not feminists. Because every time someone says they are not associated with it, they imply that women are undeserving of the same rights as men which reinforces the age-old patriarchal lineage of ideals.

What is more shocking is a particular profile that people make about a feminist. A guy on my facebook friend list once defined a feminist as “a male bashing woman who promotes abortion and homosexuality.” And this is why I am going to try to clear the qualms most people have about the dreaded ‘F-word’ by breaking some myths surrounding it.

Who can be a feminist?

A housewife and a mother of three kids can be a feminist. A teenage girl who has a playlist full of Taylor Swift’s songs can be a feminist. A career driven and ambitious woman can be a feminist. A girl who plays with her Barbie can be a feminist. And so can the teenage boy who just got his own bike. A man who is the sole breadwinner for his family can be a feminist. In short, everyone and anyone can be and should be a feminist.

I will tell you who is not a feminist?

A self-professed hater of men who feels the necessity to bring down men for empowering herself is definitely not a feminist.

Feminism is inclusive of the needs and rights of every individual irrespective of their gender, sexual orientation and any other criteria used for discrimination.

Over time, I have come across some silly excuses and comments from these ‘morally superior’ anti-feminists.

“I believe in women’s empowerment but I am against feminism.” “I am an empowered woman and I am not a feminist.” “Women who are incapable of achieving something, forcibly extract rights through feminism.” “Are you a lesbian!” “If you want the equality of the sexes, why don’t you call yourself a humanist, why feminist?”

The comments come from women who are unaware of the meaning and history of feminism. Women who gave in to the blurred interpretation of the word. Men who think and know that their male privileges would have to be scraped off to give way to equal rights for both the sexes. And from people who have an aversion to the word simply owing to its etymology! No matter what excuses people give to strengthen their stance against feminism, it still translates as misogyny.

Also, one of the most common misconceptions I have encountered is the belief that women are feminists and men aren’t.

I can claim with certainty that that is not the case as I have come across women who are far from being feminists and men who can be best described as feminists.

Feminism is the belief that a woman ought to be respected for being an individual rather than just being someone’s daughter, sister, wife etc. Feminism is the belief that women are at par with men and deserve equal opportunities and equal pay. Feminism is the belief that a women’s identity and individuality doesn’t have to change post marriage. Feminism is the belief that a woman doesn’t have to choose between her domestic life and her career, and that she can have it all if she wishes. Feminism is the belief that when the privacy and modesty of a woman are encroached upon, the fault does not lie with the survivor. Feminism is the belief that men are capable of behaving as rational human beings rather than hormone driven animals. Feminism is the belief that a man can also be a victim. Feminism is the belief that every individual should have full freedom to express their sexual identity and own their sexual orientation without fear. Feminism is the belief that ‘consent’ should always be prioritised. Feminism is the belief that men and women should have the equal rights, freedom and privileges in every aspect.

Ladies, when you tell me that you don’t believe in feminism you show an ungratefulness to the struggle of women who fought for ages so that we get our rights. Men, when you tell me you don’t believe in feminism, you have got to look into the eyes of the women you value and tell them that you don’t think they deserve all that they have and all that they strive for.

Dear women, kindly own up this word and wear it like a badge of honour. No longer am I going to feel awkward when someone tells me, “haan tu toh feminist hai na, tujhe toh ye acha lagna chahiye (yes, you would like this because you’re a feminist).” I am simply going to laugh at their ignorance.