Defining Movements: What actually is “Feminism”?

What is the ACTUAL definition?

Per Merriam Webster’s dictionary feminism is “the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes.”

In a world  where the media only has time to cover bad apples- movements and concepts like feminism are often misconstrued on a regular basis.

Recently there has been an influx of individuals who respond to “Are you a feminist” with “No, I am for equality, or I don’t hate men”.

Well……it’s a good thing that feminism does not equate to either of those things, isn’t it?

What feminism is NOT

In a recent promotional interview, Bollywood Icon Kareena Kapoor said “I wouldn’t call myself a feminist but I stand for equality. I am equally proud to be Saif Ali Khan’s wife as I am to be Kareena Kapoor, I am for equality.” The interview clip can be seen here.

It is deeply concerning that celebrities with such extensive influence have skewed definitions of movements that are global. As a female who has played several roles that are pro-women’s rights, it’s appalling that Kareena lacked the conviction in regards to feminism. When an actress expresses hesitation, or ambiguity when discussing a topic like feminism- it results in a wave towards the greater community. As a representative of countries in the South-Asian diaspora it vital that celebrities advocate for their community.

It is imperative that the community re-writes the narrative we are telling ourselves about Feminism.

  • Feminism is not the violent protests.
  • It’s not individuals against men being chivalrous.
  • It definitely is not anti-male.
  • It’s not placing women on a pedestal.
  • And it’s not asking for more. 

It is asking that we treat women as equals, we pay them as equals, and we consider them as equal in legislation and media.

Let’s Talk About it

When one thinks about the various labor union movements for coal miners, or the women’s voting right movements their notion is usually the following sentiment:

“Individuals fighting for rights they deserve” “Individuals fighting for a warranted change.”

Why is the same logic not applicable to movements in the modern society like black lives matter and feminism? If we judge every cause with a pertinent purpose by the few anomalies that hide behind it, our society will never progress.

It is time to change the conversation, there are several things Feminism IS: 

  • Feminism IS asking for equal rights for women.
  • It’s about men, women, and children.
  • Feminism IS asking for equal pay.
  • And asking for equal access and taxation to feminine products.

The movement does not ask that you subscribe to gender roles, or not subscribe to gender roles. It asks that you reserve the right to decide your lifestyle and that no one should penalize you for it. Feminism asks that as a woman (biological sex) that they not be treated as less or limited.

We NEED Male Allies

With women like Kareena Kapoor expressing blurred opinions on feminism, it is imperative that not only women take a stand, but men too!

Actors and individuals of notoriety such as, Benedict Cumberbatch who has publicly vocalized their support for feminism help change the misconceptions associated. Men that want their wives, friends, mothers, daughters and cousins alike to receive what they are worth are feminists.

If every time someone of a certain race, religious group, or community committed a crime- would you associate the entire population with their actions? If the answer is yes- it’s concerning. It’s also important to acknowledge even if your answer was no, do you subconsciously part take in activities that are anti-feminism?

This is Beyond Political Affiliations

Too often society points fingers- this is a “liberal” issue. This is a left-wing concern. This is not the case. With the current political climate being extremely partisan, we have lost a level of logic and humanity. As members of a progressive and supposedly “informed” society, one should be able to discern that gender inequality is an antiquated notion. A notion with no place in 2018.

Women, that identify as conservatives deserve equal pay, correct?

We should not undermine women that are Republican politicians purely because of their gender, correct?

I implore you to think independently. Do not turn a deaf ear to a conversation that pertains to you.

There are politicians on both sides of the spectrum that support feminist causes and advocate for them. There is still however a significant disconnect between the parties. The Atlantic delves into the deep partisan divide in America here.

The Future

I aspire to live in a community where our daughters can fight for their rights. Similar to the one I was raised in.

There are several ways to involve oneself in a Feminist movement. Individuals can start by acknowledging feminism for what it is, a movement for equal rights.  Furthermore, parents and communities can encourage women and girls to seek self-defense training, to receive higher educations, to fight for fair wages and to never settle for less than their worth. 

The future is not just female, It is EQUAL.

About the Author

Jashima Wadehra is a content curator, writer and social media consultant passionate about women’s equality and ending gender-based violence. She aims to use the digital space to connect, empower and affect individuals and global issues via the visual medium. She hopes to forge long-term relationships creating a #sayfty safe space for women around the world. Follow her work at @Jashimaw on Instagram.

This blog was edited by Dr. Shruti Kapoor