“Feminism is the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes”, commonly known as “gender equality”
For many, many years now, the word “Feminism” has had a negative connotation attached to it. There are two main reasons:
- The prefix “fem” in feminism
- Some people (both men and women), who do not know what feminism means, advocate that feminism means “demanding female superiority”
There are two kinds of people I commonly encounter:
- People who believe in gender equality but do not favor the term “Feminism” because of the negative connotation
- People who say: “Women are in a much better situation now. There is actually no need for the word “feminism” any more
I wish to give an explanation to these people. Whether you are a person who believes in gender equality or not, you would have either consciously/unconsciously used or at the least, heard these phrases:
- PLAYING LIKE A GIRL/DON’T BE SCARED LIKE A GIRL/YOU’VE GOTTEN BEATEN BY A GIRL?– “Men must be macho” – men in our society are brought up hearing this. So, a majority of the men hide all their emotions and pretend to stay strong. But men are scared too. Fear is an emotion and all humans have emotions. “Fear” is not just for women. Men and women might fear for different things but this doesn’t justify using this as a derogatory term.
- MEN ARE BRILLIANT, WOMEN ARE BOSSY–When men are commanding, they are sound and intelligent but when women do the same, they are bossy and dominating. The society still has a problem with seeing women in positions commanding respect.
We are in a world where a woman is still told that:
- You’re a woman. If you don’t know cooking, it will be very difficult after marriage – This phrase is extremely common in the Indian society. Marriage is not a procedure to help men get food on a regular basis. If you are about to say “cooking is a way of expressing love and affection”:
“Love + affection = Sacrificing career/dreams + 90% of the household chores”.
This doesn’t sound right to me. One does not express love and affection by cooking and cleaning alone. There are various ways to express that you care.
- You’re a woman, you need to have patience and you need to adjust – A woman is told to adjust and tolerate with her husband no matter what because people truly believe that in a marriage “A man is giving life to a woman to fulfill her life’s purpose”. Marriage is not a social service that a man is doing.
- Feminazi– The word “feminazi” (word used for describing women who call themselves feminists and demand female superiority) is trending recently. I was shocked when I first heard this word. A person who truly believes in “gender equality” cannot use this word. If you are a person who uses the word “feminazi”, well, you are clearly one of the reasons why the word “feminism” needs to exist in the first place.
These kinds of phrases are extremely demeaning to women. In the phrase “Playing like a girl” –the word “girl” is thought of as a bad word. Don’t these phrases sound ugly and shallow? True feminists or rather “people who truly believe in gender equality” cannot use these phrases.
We are still living in a society which tells women:
“Don’t go out late. It is not safe for you. Some man might try to take advantage of you”
“Don’t wear short clothes. You are giving a misconception to men by wearing short clothes”
To every single person who has said or will continue saying these phrases to women and girls, have you ever told a man:
“Women can come out late. Do not take advantage of them”
“Women who wear short clothes are not ‘ASKING FOR IT’”
“Boys will be boys” – Every single girl would have heard this at least once in her life. I have no words to express the anger arising in me every time I hear this statement. This one phrase often justifies the atrocities committed against women.
Stop telling women: “Don’t get raped” Start telling men: “Don’t rape”
Stop saying: Men can be playful and careless but women need to be careful.
I will never ever accept the statement “At the end of the day, a girl is a girl”. I am not ready to SACRIFICE something without a rational reason. The reason – “you are a girl” is a misogynistic statement and not a rational reason.
As a woman, I want to be out late in the evening, I want to wear the dress that I feel comfortable. I do not want to bar myself from an activity just because I am a woman. Everyone justifies these restrictions by saying: “These precautions are good for women because Women have a lot to lose”. Holding on to these thoughts only encourages the patriarchal society to remain the way it is. I think the thought process should change
FROM: Women must be careful because they have a lot to lose
TO: Men must distinguish between moral/immoral behavior and not take advantage of women.
If you are a person who thinks: “Women are in a much better situation now. They really shouldn’t be using the word feminism”,, let me ask you this. Why are we still living in a world where female infanticide is common? Why are early pregnancies common? Many people still consider women as sex objects.
We are still living in a world where we call women who menstruate “unclean” and make them stay in a separate place during their periods. Men and women isolate menstruating women. Periods are an uncomfortable phase for a woman. Even if you cannot make it any better, why are you making it worse? I clearly do not see a point in isolating a woman just because she’s menstruating. Again, it should be the girl’s choice to be alone or not. You can justify this restriction by quoting religious reasons. But the question is – “does the girl want to follow the religion?” and not “do you want your girl to follow the religion?”
While there are obstacles in each person’s life, for women, even her daily activities are not easily doable as it is for men. Our society tends to praise men but criticize women for the same things. The word powerfully conveys the fact that women are fighting for their rights.
I totally agree that there are women who do not understand the meaning of feminism and promote unacceptable things. We must hold accountable such people. Women demanding female superiority are not feminists. We should not let them ruin the sanctity of the word.
I proudly say this: “the progress that women are making in the name of “feminism” scares anti-feminists, or rather, misogynists, because their privileges are declining”. In conclusion, I admit
I AM A FEMINIST. I WILL ALWAYS BE A FEMINIST.
Saisruthi is a software engineer by profession who considers “Strong Independent Feminist” as her identity. Women empowerment is her end goal in life and would love to jump in for anything contributing towards it. She is a blogger blogging about Feminism for almost a year now. She loves to read books, most of them non-fiction, especially books themed around feminism, judiciary and Indian Political system.
This blog was edited by Dr. Shruti Kapoor