One time, while I was on Tinder, this boy asked me about the very taut description I have on my profile. He said: “Films, Food, Feminism? First two are fine, but third one I am not sure. Like, you’re not ugly.” This very enlightening remark made me wonder how many people believe that feminism is “done by” ugly people, sexually frustrated people or those who are “female chauvinists”. When it comes to misgivings about feminism, there is so much to tackle, and I want to address some of them here, through various statements that I have heard:
Sounds warped, doesn’t it? To most people this is a common conception: you “become” a feminist because you might have had a bad relationship, or because you haven’t even had a relationship, and when no one paid you enough attention you started hating men. This thought particularly stems from the misconception that feminism is anti-men. Feminism says two very basic things: First, all sexes are equal; Second, Patriarchy is a system where men are systemically accorded power and privilege.
Thus, unlearning our privileges is where we need to start.
And ugly people do not get attention, right? This actually perpetuates the system which categorises people as ugly, beautiful, attention-seeking gender, attention-giving gender. This system is our old enemy in the garb of a friend: patriarchy. And patriarchy is something feminism fights against. Feminists aren’t ugly, patriarchy makes you think they are.
Feminism is called feminism because it is “conventional” femininity (taught to us in texts, through family, religion, language) which is looked down upon, and this is the reason why both men and women suffer patriarchy but on different terms: women suffer because they are women, men suffer because they should be men and not become women, or womanly, or woman-like, or anything less than a “perfect man”. Thus, people who think feminists are male-bashers and are too extreme, well there’s something you need to recognise: every man is taught to “be a mard” and take advantage of his gender privilege, and every woman is taught to accept this. Both become part and parcel of perpetuating this system. All of us need to keep doing our own thing to break patriarchy.
Feminism says all genders are equal. So when you say “I love men“, feminism says: “Um, who’s denying that?” Men and women are both equal, but sadly women have to unlearn the fact that men aren’t gods, and men have to unlearn the fact that they aren’t gods and women aren’t either gods or objects. We are all idiots trying to get by, only some of us are helped more than the other by a system that basically sucks.
“Like, the other day a woman was shouting at a man for getting the reserved seat and was very rude,” you argue.
Well, every human can be an asshole at any point of time. But here’s the thing: women can be prejudiced, discriminatory, and assholes, but right now, as the society is, they can’t be oppressors. Why? Because well, for that you need the whole world order supporting you in that oppression. Remember that this is a world where seven men sign a deal about women’s reproductive rights. No, the kind of apocalypse where women control the world isn’t gonna come soon, and feminism actually wants to make sure it never does. Women have been denied spaces in public space and affirmative action (like seats in a metro) is necessary before the system allows for direct intervention in spaces. And when you say women are “misusing” their “rights”, you are again saying it is something that they didn’t particularly deserve. Everyone needs to undo their patriarchal baggage.
Everyone knows that, and, more importantly, feminists definitely do. Men suffer because the system teaches them to be not like women. Hence, you don’t hear much about male sexual harassment because well, do the math. The whole darn society will say being a survivor makes one less of a man, that’s why.
Feminism is a lot more than binaries of men and women. Right now, as it stands, it has gone beyond the gender binary of male and female – and even renowned feminists (like Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie) have had their issues of not taking into account the multiplicity of experiences. Feminism is a process, which makes us learn and unlearn our own biases. It evolves according to the needs of the time, demands of the people and the issues at hand. For example, my recent unlearning process has been to stop saying “guys” for addressing a group of people, writing and saying “they” when I cite hypothetical examples instead of “he” or “she”.
All of us need to do our own bit, and you will realize, you too are a feminist.