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

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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.

You must be to comment.
  1. Jigsaw

    Where is equality when:

    1. Women are rescued first from sinking ships.
    2. Seats are reserved for women on buses.
    3. The media only focuses on women’s issues.
    4. World’s most dangerous jobs are worked by men, safest by women.
    5. 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’, and better educated.
    14. Men die on jobs daily. 97% of work related deaths are of men.
    15. Draconian laws where women land men in jail through lies.
    16. Men have to propose, buy roses, flowers, chocolates.
    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, Firefighters rescue women first.
    22. Reserved compartment and seats for women in metros.
    23. Men get down on their knees to propose, not women
    24. Men are forced to pay child support.
    25. Research, funding, and awareness for breast cancer. Nothing for prostate cancer, even though male victims number the same.

  2. Daredevil

    Men are the majority of suicides, majority of war deaths, majority of the homeless, majority of the unemployed, have less access to health care hence live ten years less than women on average, are subject to harsher punishments than women for the same crimes, also suffer from rape and DV but are not given support or protection under the law, are subject to mandatory conscription, biased family courts which throw unemployed men in jail for not paying alimony, are subject to mandatory arrest laws, are subject to no evidence laws, even when innocent and are now a minority in college education. Yes it’s the men’s fault they ended up this way. But do women actually care about men as a gender? No. Yet there are hundreds of men out there fighting for “women’s rights” when men actually have less “rights” as such. Every prominent feminist over the decades has advocated bigotry and hatred for men.

  3. Batman

    In 1929, Edward Berbays sold women ‘cigarettes’ calling them Torches of Freedom, and women bought the propaganda. Now, under the guise of liberation and freedom, women are being sold the satanism called feminism.

  4. The Hulk

    Feminism has ruined families, is responsible for divorces, and turns women into something they are not. Children are now growing up without mothers, receiving their values from maids and television, and most criminals are children of single parent families – all blessings of feminism

  5. Batman

    Please explain this to me

    https://youtu.be/CVErg0FwWZ4

  6. Sagar Bhagat

    Holistically covered and well written! Keep enlighting people!

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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.

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.

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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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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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