By Karan Mujoo:
I have a confession to make. Whenever I hear the word ‘feminist’, alarm bells automatically go off inside my head. Now, I don’t claim to speak for all men, but I have a sneaky feeling that they too hear these bells. And not just men, some women too are wary of their sisters-in-arms. Recently, I told a female friend that I was interested in a particular girl. Her reply was, “Oh her! She’s a feminist type.” And that, I think is supposed to be bad for me. I find this utterly strange because no feminist has ever even said anything remotely harsh to me. No feminist ever stopped me from going to work, killed me while I was in the womb, took more money than me for the same job or hit me. Then what it this reaction of slight wariness based on? Why do these bells go off in my head?
I think it’s partly because feminism has been turned into a cult. Not by those who are in it, but by those outside. Now, cult might be a harsh word but here’s why I think it is appropriate. Somewhere down the line, the word feminism became more popular than its definition or its meaning. Somebody, and I don’t know who or what, created a stereotype of a feminist; a pitchfork wielding, kurta-wearing demon with kohl and fire in her eyes, brandishing her philosophy of men-hating with unbridled enthusiasm. Who created this image? The media? A bunch of overzealous women who equated feminism with hatred for men? The answer is ambiguous. But what’s concrete is the fact that feminists are perceived to be aggressive women who like to punch men in the balls for fun.
And this could not be farther from the truth. Most feminists I know are your average men and women. You wouldn’t even know they are feminists until someone hushed in your ears, “She’s a feminist.” Feminism to me and most sane people is a movement for equal rights. For everyone. Feminists aren’t monsters. They are human beings who fight the monster of inequality. For centuries, women have been given a rough deal and that’s, to put it mildly. And now the one great movement that corrected so many wrongs seems to have been hijacked. Can it be salvaged? Does it need to be salvaged?
In my head the solution is simple. If some people think Feminists are monsters, so be it. That’s a small price to pay for believing in a movement that has done so much for the good of women. If that means that men like yours truly will be a little scared of feminists, then wonderful, let’s get on with it. The road is long and hard. And you guys have just started.