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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?