As a man, I firmly believe that being a feminist comes with responsibilities. The first and foremost responsibility is acknowledging my own privilege, and this privilege comes from a wide variety of structures—of gender, class, caste, religion, language and ability. Acknowledging my privilege comes with its own duty, the duty of stepping down from the stage and letting others who have been oppressed historically speak. It also involves educating oneself because the structures of oppression are normalised so much that they often seem invisible.
There are a lot of ways you can educate yourself—from books, films and even Instagram accounts. I will give here, a list of things which I did and I continue to do to understand feminism and bash patriarchy! But before that, here is a quote which will be a huge guide:
“Men who want to be feminists need not be given a space in feminism. They need to take the space they have in society and make it feminist.” – Kelly Temple
Author: Nivedita Menon
Nivedita Menon is a feminist professor of political science at Jawaharlal Nehru University who previously taught at Lady Shri Ram College for Women, University of Delhi.
You do not need to be well-versed in feminism; you just need to keep an open mind while reading this book. Even for those who are students of feminism, this book can be an eye-opener because of its intersectional approach. The book talks about everything that is unequal and how oppression is layered. It talks about specific laws, understanding gender and sex, sexual harassment at workplace, marriage and how capitalism and casteism are tied together and how their oppression is also gendered. It will shock you, and even, surprise you. You will learn new things and also unlearn many well-normalised old social structures.
While reading the book, you will surely find many things wrong about yourself, and understand how certain structures and beliefs made our upbringings flawed. This book is a must-read to reform yourself and see the world using a feminist lens that lays bare the patriarchal social, political, economic and cultural structures.
Author: Steig Larsson
Steig Larsson was a Swedish author born in 1954 and a journalist by profession. He was the editor-in-chief of the magazine Expo from 1999 and had also worked at other major news agencies. He was one of the world’s leading experts on anti-democratic, right-wing extremists and Nazi organisations.
After submitting the manuscript of this trilogy, he died suddenly in 2004. Steig Larsson’s portrayal of women character in his book is great. He builds each of his characters as strong and independent figures who go through a lot, fighting in the workspace and their personal lives, to emerge victoriously. Although the female characters have male friends, colleagues and family members, they are never portrayed to project that a man is always behind a women’s success. Rather, they are fiercely independent.
The character, Lisbeth Salander or “The Girl” is a computer hacker who lives her life on her own terms. In the novel, she is a rape survivor who comes back fiercely at her rapist. The crime novel also shows how powerful men shape the world around us. The novels portray how the patriarchal world is shaped and how everything is normalised. The novels are chilling with complex plots and twisted ends, and you can surely learn about a lot of patriarchal structures.
Founder: Japleen Pasricha
Japleen Pasricha is the founder and editor-in-chief of Feminism in India, an award-winning digital intersectional feminist media platform. She is also a TEDx speaker and UN World Summit Young Innovator.
Feminism in India is the best source of intersectional feminist news in India. If you are an avid news reader and also like to see them using a feminist lens, then this website is the destination. You can learn the 101 of feminism and get a better understanding of intersectionality. (For me, I learned a lot and I am really very grateful. Such a wonderful site!)
The site has various sections on culture, history and society. Many writers write for the site, and you must look at the amount of research done for each article. Some academic essays discuss feminist books. If you are serious about feminism, then you must visit this website and read the articles. They also have an Instagram profile, and you can subscribe to them on Telegram and WhatsApp. They post feminist graphic explainers that break social taboos, myths and promote feminism 101.
Humans of Patriarchy has an Instagram profile and also a Facebook Page which features posts on intersectional feminism, politics and culture. It posts user-generated tweets and Facebook posts that bash patriarchy. It is a nice companion during your daily commute or late at night.
Netflix’s Sex Education was released on the platform back in January 2019, but it was not until February of 2020 that I started watching the show. It is a British comedy web series created by Laurie Nunn. The show’s episodes start with a sex scene consisting of a particular sex-related problem. The rest of the episode deals with that problem and how it can be solved. The show simultaneously features running love stories.
At the same time, it shows how to deal with issues regarding gender, relationships, inclusivity, friendships, sexual harassment and sex education at school during the teenage years. The show features Otis Milburn, played by Asa Butterfield, who is the son of a sex therapist. At school, he starts being a sex therapist and runs a sex therapy sessions with his friend, Maeve Wiley.
The show normalizes the concept of teens asking questions about their bodies and relationships. It stresses on healthy sexuality and relationship issues – issues that are unfortunately not dealt with in sex education classes. It also shows that intersectionality is important because people have multiple identities, and these play a role in sexual relationships, which is much more than a physical act. The show is a great start for everyone no matter what age to learn more about issues relating to gender and other identities.
I am a student of Political Science, and I mostly learn about feminism as part of my syllabus or through my experiences at my university. However, if you do not belong to any related subjects like sociology and philosophy, please do not feel left out. This is a very small list and certainly not exhaustive. I planned to read classic feminist texts, but I always find myself busy, not finding enough time to fulfill my reading goals. However, you can use this list as a start to understand and learn about feminism.