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Feminism: What It Isn’t And What It Is Trolled For

There are a lot of misconceptions about the very concept of feminism, but in short, it’s the belief that men and women should be equal. However, I think it’s the meaning of feminism that has got clouded (in the minds of both men and women). Feminism is all about having equal rights for men and women, and all the people who don’t accept feminism do not understand its true meaning.

I believe that feminism signifies the need for equal space for men and women. It’s about people who want equal rights as well as people who support equality. Feminists do not assert that we are the same as men. It isn’t about superiority either. But equality. Being the same and being equal are different. Those who don’t get it are either misapprehended or have been conditioned with those thoughts instilled into them from a younger age.

Feminism is a fight for gender equality. Everyone should be respected in all their forms, genders, ages, economic status and nationality. Any sentient entity has the right to be respected.

Now, let’s come to men.

Certain men assert dominance. It’s harder for them to understand because they can’t imagine a world where a woman is treated as equal. A lot of men are also misinformed and that we could fix by letting them know what feminism is. This has created a male chauvinistic society where the male ego is too fragile to be hurt. Indians have an especially harder time with things like this. Indian culture considers women to be the housekeepers and men to be the worker bees, although that’s not the case.

Feminism is about people who want equal rights as well as people who support equality.

Religion And Feminism

Religion also plays a critical role. It’s not the religion, but the individuals who modify the religion in the way they want. Nowhere in the Quran does it say that ladies should conceal their entire body. Be that as it may, we’re made to accept so by patriarchs who only want women’s subjugation.

Indeed, certain parts of Hinduism are adapted in a way that oppresses women and Dravidians. The Vedas, Manu Smriti and so on are considered as a code of conduct for Hindus and have undoubtedly been composed by men, and not God. However, many people who are accustomed to these traditions cannot accept anything beyond this. This leads orthodox people to reprimand anybody that restricts their principles.

Trolling of Feminists

Then there’s this hasty generalisation. Some people, claiming to be feminists, have a insulting attitude towards men and tend to insult them out loud in public places. This gives a wrong interpretation of feminism to others. What they need is a more broad identification of what is right and what is wrong.

Another factor is the chauvinistic thinking of society. The society’s collective ego is too fragile to accept a healthy change. People think that they’ll have to give up everything they’ve practiced. Such people are affected by patriarchy; like monetary control, they think that patriarchal control, too, is vested upon them as a birthright, and they gain social capital from it, a kind of respect from society.

Women, who are often homemakers, are unpaid workers with zero respect from society. Such people firmly believe that equality, when practiced, would result in women making money, that it will take away social capital from men. Hence, they troll feminists.

Like Adichie said, “When you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression.” Another cause is patriarchal supremacy. When women come forward and voice demands for equal rights, such people believe that they will have to give up the privilege that they relish.  That’s why they troll feminists — they feel that a woman is too low a creature to be raising their voice.

In fact, these people treat women like objects. That’s the privilege this patriarchal society gives men. That’s where the problem lies. Society believes women are meant only for reproduction, that they can’t take up any higher works other than homemaking, or do anything physical. Femininity itself is defined as weak, in being a property of husbands, and never as a quality equal to masculinity. But, more importantly, the distinction between “male privilege “ and “patriarchy” is important.

Every individual across the world ought to widely, specifically, and broadly have the opportunity to be able to grasp this ground-breaking message of women’s liberation and have the option to make a positive change to their notion of womanhood and womanliness. Nonetheless, regardless of the fact that women’s liberation is a solid effective development, disparity and discrimination against women is a tragic reality. If the women are being exploited and made to suffer, it is the obligation of one and all to prevent it from happening and to guarantee that this sort of generalization is rectified and a clearer inner conscience is framed!

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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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