There are a lot of us who believe in gender equality, acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community, many of us who believe that sex workers should be treated as human beings. But there aren’t many of us who have realised that these beliefs of ours make us feminists or rather many of us don’t want to associate ourselves with the idea of feminism.
Ever since I realised I was a feminist and felt proud when I called myself one, I have been trying to “enlighten” people on what feminism is all about. Every time I explain to someone the whole concept of feminism, I have observed that, though people agree with the idea, they don’t believe that feminism revolves around the idea of EQUALITY anymore. It is commonly believed to be a concept that says women are superior to men. While feminism says that not all men are rapists, it is commonly believed that feminists imply otherwise. This is formed because feminism doesn’t believe in the idea of boys will be boys. It believes that boys, like girls, will be held accountable for their actions.
I have also realised that a common criticism about feminism is that people say that feminists don’t seem to agree on anything. However, they don’t realise, that it is this unique attitude that prevents feminists spaces from becoming echo chmabers.
As I wonder why people refuse to believe feminism in its true form, I realised there are two main reasons:
1. THE HISTORY OF FEMINISM: A quick Recap
Feminism was started as part of the French revolution, in the 18th Century, to fight for the legal rights of women. However, it is not cool to still stay in the 18th century and say Feminism supports only the women because like everything in this world the phenomena of feminism has also gone through an evolution. We are currently in the fourth wave where feminists believe that men go through gender inequality, fight for the rights of the trans-genders, sex workers, people of different sexual orientations while still focusing on women empowerment.
2. SETTING THE WRONG EXAMPLE:
A few people, who believed themselves to be feminists, completely overlooked the idea of gender equality and made it all about women. They simply portrayed something that’s definitely not feminism but what is known as misandry. Now, we can’t guarantee that every single person in the society knows what feminism truly is. So, obviously, they perceive feminism to be what feminists show them it is. Hence we can easily say that the reason why feminism is the most basterdized word/concept today is because a few people followed a misconception of feminism.
Now, the second reason is what brings us to the next part of the blog
10 EASY WAYS TO IF YOU HAVE GOT THE WRONG IDEA
1. You are not a feminist if you believe that women have the right to have a job but it is the duty of every man to have a job:
Career is a choice for any gender. We often complain that the society judges women to be bossy if they are career oriented but we are mum about the society judging men who prefer being a stay-at-home dad, as a man with lack of ambition. Well, feminism believes that if a woman has a right to prefer a career over family then a man has a right to prefer family over career too and that it won’t disrespect either of the gender for their preferences.
2. You are not a feminist if you believe that a woman doesn’t need a man except to have a baby:
A woman needs a man. A man needs a woman. Of course, the need doesn’t necessarily mean a partner. The opposite gender can be a friend, can be a part of your family, can be your neighbour, can be your boss at work, and can be anyone. If you think that the world will function perfectly fine with just women, except for reproduction, you are completely mistaken. There is more than one reason we are meant to co-exist. A man’s brain and a woman’s brain work differently. When you are having a few men who are close to you and you are in a particular situation, the insight of a man might be completely different of that of the women you are close to. Hence you have various angles to think from, for the given situation, thus broadening your thinking capacity. One of the ideas of co-existence is hence self-betterment for both the genders.
3. You are not a feminist if you believe a man who cries is not “manly” enough:
Quoting Emma Watson here “Both men and women should feel free to be sensitive. Both men and women should feel free to be strong.” We need to realise that to feel low and expressing it doesn’t make a man, less manly or feminine. It is what makes him human. And let’s just let a man be a human please?
4. You are not a feminist if you think it is okay if a woman hits a man:
When a woman gets beaten up by a man, at least a couple of people try to stand against it and help the woman. We believe that the man isn’t treating his woman right. If a man gets beaten up by a woman everyone turns a blind eye to it. We just easily assume that the man would have done something wrong and the lady is punishing him for it. Either way, we come to the conclusion that the men are at fault, without knowing ANYTHING about the problem between them. This does not make you a feminist but a mere hypocrite.
5. You are not a feminist if you think a man HAS to carry the shopping bags and pay for the date:
Does it irritate you when someone says that women should definitely learn to cook? Does it irritate you when someone says that women shouldn’t talk or laugh loudly? Does it irritate you when someone says that “a real woman” should be patient and polite? This is because you know that a woman shouldn’t fall under a particular set of definitions set by the society. That’s the same for men. When a man chooses not to carry your bags for you it doesn’t necessarily mean he is arrogant. Sometimes it is also that he believes you can carry it yourself. When he doesn’t pay for the date doesn’t necessarily mean that he is a miser. It may also mean that he respects the fact that you are financially independent.
6. You are not a feminist if you judge people on their dress sense:
Not all men who wear tight pants are gay. Not all women who just won’t wear dresses are lesbians. Not all men who wear a shirt, with the first few buttons unbuttoned are perverts. Not all women who wear deep neck clothes are prostitutes. If you think clothes are the criteria for deciding one’s sexuality or character, you know for sure, you are doing feminism wrong.
7. You are not a feminist if you use feminine traits to degrade a man:
When a man is being a coward and you call him “pussy”, when a fat man has extra flesh on his chest and you make fun because he has “boobs”, when you snatch away the Barbie dolls from a boy child’s hand because they are “girly” toys, you are implying that a feminine trait is something to be ashamed of, something to be looked down at. Same thing when you call someone a “dick” or a “tomboy”.
8. You are not a feminist if you believe in societal marital age:
Adults will get married when they want to, when they are ready for it and that’s the real marital age. Marrying at 18 is not stupidity and staying single at 40 is not unlucky or arrogance if the person CHOSE for it to be that way. It’s what they want from life. As long as it is not a child marriage, there is nothing to criticise about a person’s marital age.
9. You are not a feminist if you joke about trans people and make fun of them:
Trans people are still the most oppressed gender of all the three genders — So oppressed that they are not even considered a gender, so oppressed that they can’t even use a restroom in a public place, so oppressed that they can’t once roam around publicly without fingers pointing that them. If you think a joke on the TV on trans genders is hilarious, you need to realise you are laughing at someone else’s tragic life. Feminism stands for equality for all genders and constant mockery of an entire gender is not equality.
10. You are not a feminist if you don’t give sex workers a chance at life:
We all sympathise with them about their lives. We all wish they are granted basic human rights. But would you let an ex sex worker be your domestic help? Would you let the child of a sex worker play with your child? Would you give the sex worker a place in the society? If the answers to these questions were a no from you please don’t call yourself a feminist.
Feminism is a beautiful concept that has been making the world a better place for centuries now. So let us focus at the evolved feminism and be a feminist in the true sense so that no gender is ever denied of their rights in the future.
About our writer: Pavithra Venkat is a B.Com graduate, currently, a student pursuing CA. She enjoys writing on social issues that she feels most passionately about to channelize what bothers her about the society. She also writes for her cousin’s short story publication. She lives in Chennai with her parents and sister.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are independent views solely of the author(s) expressed in their private capacity and do not in any way represent or reflect the views of KrantiKālī.