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Ten Types Of Feminists I Have Encountered In Life

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Feminism endeavours to bring about gender equality in all spheres. It has achieved remarkable success but the struggle is ongoing. It’s a movement, it’s a commitment, and feminists are taking the movement and the commitment forward. But why, all of a sudden, is the word “feminism” instilling a lot of negativity even in those who wholeheartedly believe in its core values? Many who strive for gender equality and a just society are privileging the term “humanists” rather than “feminists”.

And this brings me to my next question: Do all feminists believe in feminism? The question sounds ridiculous, isn’t it? A feminist has to believe in feminism, or why would they be identifying themselves as such? Well, not all people who call themselves feminists believe in the equality of genders. Forget including men, many of them don’t even include women from social classes that are different from their own, in their brand of feminism. Below is the list of 10 categories of people I have encountered in my life who identify themselves as feminists.

1. The Feminist

The feminist wants and strives for gender equality and tries for positive change in the society through their words and deeds. This category, comprising all genders, advocates women’s rights and gender equality, not claiming the superiority of any one gender.

2. The Feminist But…

I call them selective feminists. This category comprises feminists who strive for gender equality among the members of their own socioeconomic class. Many of them live luxurious lifestyles, and feminism for them is but a tool to seek personal gain, disguised as women rights. In fact, some of them are major oppressors of women working under them who are paid poorly and/or made to overwork. Feminism includes men and women, they would say or write, but would deliberately keep their domestic workers, nannies, etc out of its purview. While they campaign for maternity and paternity benefits for those in white-collar jobs, many of them would dismiss the services of their domestic worker within minutes of noticing her baby bump, citing one excuse or the other.

3. Super Selective Feminist

This category consists of women who think only they and their biological women relatives have the right to feminism or gender equality. Rest everyone, every woman – most importantly their daughters-in-law, sisters-in-law, and sometimes mothers-in-law, should conform to traditional gender roles and moral norms. Any aberration leads to disapproval and even badmouthing.

Many of them, when seeking matrimonial alliance for their daughters, hunt only for rich men who can afford helps and cooks as the young ladies never entered kitchen and know nothing of household chores. But when they seek a daughter-in-law, they make sure that she knows how to make proper meals, does chores around the house without a whimper and also earns a handsome salary. And of course, her Chapatis are as round as the Bindis on their foreheads.

4. Feminists Who Consider All Men Vicious Except Their Father Or Brother

This category comprises women who blame everything that’s wrong with the society, world and her own life, on men. For her, every man is a Male Chauvinist Pig, or an MCP, except her father and/or brother. Her ex-boyfriend is the biggest scum on earth and her husband, well, just, tolerable. While she blames every evil on earth on men, her brother’s shaky relationship with his wife is promptly blamed on the woman. She doesn’t end her day without uttering her beloved catchphrase, “All men are same” (excluding her father and brother). Many of these feminists turn against feminism once they have a male child as for them, feminism is anti-men, and they don’t want to be associated with anything that goes against the gender of their progeny.

5. Double-Standard Feminist

This category exhibits ridiculous double standards in terms of traditional gender roles and etiquette. While she strives for freedom, liberty and equality for women, her sense of entitlement as a woman refuses to go away. She wants to live life according to her own choice but doesn’t want to set free the man from his traditional role of “provider” or in some cases even “protector”, thus reinforcing gender stereotypes. She doesn’t split bills on her romantic dates because it’s a man’s ‘duty’ to pay and swiftly labels him un-chivalrous or ill-mannered if he asks her to pay her half. Now, this category also includes male feminists who, while advocating freedom for women, refuse to come out of culturally or socially designed moulds of masculinity or the notions of male superiority.

6. Femininity-Hating Feminist

This category includes feminists who hate anything even remotely considered feminine. Wearing ‘pretty’ dresses, decorating hair with flowers, strutting in high heels and even personal grooming is blasphemous. Prettiness is a plague and being dainty is a sin. Femininity is imposed on women by patriarchy and it should be razed to the ground with all the might. They fail to get the point that feminism strives for equality and not “sameness”.

They are the glorified sexists disguised as feminists.

Now, having taken the rejection of gender roles to the extremes, some of them also hate motherhood, for it has been a norm forced upon women by the misogynist patriarchal system, until they themselves become parents. They consider themselves the un-acclaimed brand ambassadors of feminism and force every woman to conform to their worldview.

7. Social Media/Facebook Feminist

This category of feminists has nothing to do with gender equality or a just society. They simply want to be called feminists out of fashion and are at their hypocritical best on social media. They share quotes, videos and messages on women, women empowerment and womanhood not meaning any of it. They promote the cause of girl child by sharing messages such as “Daughters are best”,  “Lucky is the parent whose first child is daughter”, etc., knowingly or unknowingly making gender disparity deeper and murkier.

8. Male pseudo-feminist

Most of this category’s characteristics are very similar to Social Media Feminist. These pseudo-feminists too share a lot of women and women empowerment-related stuff on social media and call themselves feminists only to be in the good books of some pretty women they haven’t had any success with. Deep within, they are as orthodox and misogynist as one could get, they try to deify woman, raising her to the level of Goddess, incessantly talking about women oppression and gender bias. They maintain that all men are oppressors, only they are not. After having convinced the women that they are bona fide feminists, very different from all the other men of the universe, they make their sexual overtures. Of course, their male ego is hurt when the women refuse. They are dangerous, for they strike at the most opportune moment.

9. The Ever-Angry Feminist

Well, if you are not outraged, or even angry, at all the times, what kind of feminist are you? These feminists are ever-angry, some furious, sometimes for valid reasons, but most of the times, because they have to be. Well, that’s the way they are! Getting offended at anything and everything is their favourite pastime giving them a narcissistic pleasure. Some of them have made a career out of being annoyed and outraged.

10. The Confused Feminist

This last category of feminists gets on my nerves. They are shattering the hard work of millions not only by being ignorant but also by trying to be experts on the lives of others, especially women. They want their choices to be respected while they criticize, or even humiliate, others whose choices are different from theirs. Such confused feminist would belittle a stay-at-home mother accusing her of perpetuating patriarchy and wasting her education. The other confused feminist would disparage a woman for continuing her job after the birth of her baby, accusing her of running away from her primary responsibility, i.e. raising children. They either don’t understand the meaning of choice, or even feminism, or they just love to play the spoilsport. They simply jumped the bandwagon and started calling themselves feminists because something was wrong with their lives and instead of setting that straight, they thought of setting right the lives of others.

So, how many feminists do you believe fall in the first category? And by the way, which one are you?

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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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