Okay, to be honest, this post is not about Describing or explaining Feminism, or about bashing pseudo feminists. Lot of people have already done both in the past. I am simply trying to put into words the reason for me being a feminist. Do note that I shall mainly be focussing on the Indian context only, as I have little or no experience of Feminism views outside the country.
In the past few years, Feminism as a principle has been bashed almost unequivocally throughout the country. By media, journalists, politicians, social activists, college students, working professionals, the common man, and so on. It has almost become a fad of sorts- If you are a feminist, you should be treated akin a criminal. How dare you even think of supporting women, who have just no other work than to surpass men and disparage their efforts in every possible way. How can you be so blinded by their hogwash? Can’t you see they are just trying to dominate, and make lives miserable for men? Girls are asking men to stand up for a reserved seat in a bus or a train. That is just beyond criminal. How can we think of reserving seats for them in the Parliament or in top Business schools such as IIMs? How can women claim to be equal to men and then ask for reservation? Isn’t it the height of hypocrisy? How can a girl log onto a dating app as Tinder and claim she does not want to ‘Hook up’. Isn’t that criminal?
I think you get the idea. Female bashing has become the new trend. Shortly after the New Year incident in Bangalore (Sexual Harassment of hundreds of women), a new Hash Tag was born- #NotAllMen. Of course the men had to stand up for this shocking incident. By proudly proclaiming that Not all men were rapists or molesters. That there are many good men like ‘them’ in the world as well. How dare the women say that all men are criminals (its unsure who and where said that though). More and more men were coming forward and bravely posting their comments on Social Media, as to remind everyone(especially women) that Not all men were bad, not all men were sexually harassing others. That is such a noble thing to do, isn’t it? [Note- Heavy Usage of Sarcasm, and if you could not get it, then bless you]
A few days ago, I read a comment on Quora [A Popular website on writing Questions and Answers or General topics] in which a girl had mentioned that she is Proud not to be a Feminist, as she believes Males should get equal rights as Women. Reading that statement actually sent me into a state of shock. Here is the Dictionary Meaning of Feminism, just to get it clear:-
-‘The theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes’- Webster
-‘The advocacy of women's rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes’- Oxford
-‘Feminism is a range of political movements, ideologies, and social movements that share a common goal: to define, establish, and achieve political, economic, personal, and social rights for women.’- Wikipedia
If you go through any of the above meanings, it becomes apparent that nowhere Feminism endorses the denigration of rights for men. It is really unfortunate that many people, even now, feel that feminists try to belittle men and criticise them for anything and everything. Most of these people have not read about the history and the past, where women have struggled for even basic rights. They did not have the right to vote, the right to live an independent life, or even the freedom to marry someone of their own choice,or to have legal and social equality. I would recommend everyone to read about the three different waves of Feminism, and more on the History of the past few hundred years before jumping to any conclusion.
I first heard of the term when I was in school, maybe in Standard 9 or 10. One of my schoolmates told me that he considered himself to be a ‘Feminist.’ He tried to explain to me what it was, but at that time, I could not really comprehend what it was all about. But what I did notice is that lot of males shy away from using the term to describe themselves, even if they believe in equal rights for men and women. Some of them think the term ‘feminist’ is too effeminate. It will make them look unmanly if they start calling themselves a Feminist. Others think that one can only be a Feminist, if he or she attends Protests or Demonstrations holding Placards and Charts advocating women rights, shouting at the top of their voices. Hence it is highly probable that if you ask a person, especially a male, if he is a feminist, he will answer in the negative. Fortunately, over a period of time, I learnt that gender discrimination is wrong. Girls have just as much of a right to education and a decent living as boys do. It is high time that men learnt to keep their (gender) superiority complex in check.
Lot of men write that Women abuse lot of laws to their advantage. A notable example being the infamous Sec 498A in the Indian Penal Code, which has been misused by several women to imprison their husbands or his relatives, on the pretext of harassment, and to get hold of his property/money. Or maybe the law on Adultery (Sec 497), which is currently biased in favour of women. While it may be definitely true that women might have used the law to their advantage, but the fact is that Both men and women use the law to their advantage. It would be extremely unwise to focus on one aspect and ignore the other. If there are laws which (presumably) favour women, then there are many laws which favour men too. We still do not have a concrete stand on Marital Rape or even Domestic Abuse, which is prevalent throughout the country, and almost all the victims being women. The majority of victims of sexual harassment continue to be women, and there appears to be little improvement in this regard. We continue to bash the victim with an archaic mindset(blaming her clothing, her upbringing, her nature and everything else except for blaming the criminal). This is a typical drawback of a highly Patriarchal society such as India.
Hence the call of the day, is that we need more Feminists. We need them to come forward and promote the cause of Equality, while supporting social, judicial, economical and legal rights for women. And we definitely do NOT need more men reminding us that they have never harassed a girl and how proud they are of themselves for doing so(almost as if it is an achievement- ‘not to molest’). If you are a man, I would just ask you to put yourself in the shoes of a woman for just a few minutes. You might perhaps understand, that women are judged every single day. For their looks, for their behavior, for their basic actions. We live in a society where women have to be on their toes throughout, in fear of being attacked or harassed(physical, mental, emotional, anything).
Let us come forward and do our best to make our society a better place for women. There is lots to be done.