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After all being said and done, the question remains, “What is it like to be a feminist?” I tried finding out what today’s college students think.
Surfing on the web, one might come across a lot of articles, news, and memes about feminism. A lot of literature and cinema falls under the feminist category. But what is feminism? Consider this meme, from a Facebook page that says, “What do you call a feminist government? A dick-hater-ship.”
Apart from the fact that this particular Facebook page posts some really annoying and disgusting misogynist shit almost all the time (more on that later), this meme raises a major question- a question most of us claiming to be feminists get asked – Why do feminists hate men? A question which, frankly speaking, doesn’t really have any business existing. Yet, the ideas that feminists hate men; feminists want rule over men; and that all women and only women are feminists keep floating around.
Yes, the answers to these questions may be not that easy to find, but maybe one can start by trying to understand what exactly is like to be a feminist for someone who claims to be one.
The most common argument given by almost all those who I interacted with was that feminism is nothing more or less than gender equality. Many people assert that feminists only want matriarchy to rule the world and that all men must abide by what women want.
So I spoke to some young adults about this, trying to find out what this generations feels.
“Feminism is not something that can be defined in the strictest of terms. In fact, defining would only put it into a category and then the dilemma of finding the suitable characteristics to see who fits into the category of a feminist would arise,” says Monika (21).
“It is difficult, a little bit,” says Arash (28). He explained how he gets called names and stuff for being an active feminist. “Do I want women to have equal rights as men? Yes! Does it mean that I hope for the total destruction of the male race? Hell no! That’s not what equality is about. Equality = equality. That’s it!”
While interacting with people for this article, I also came across a lot of people who simply proclaimed, “We hate feminism!” When asked why, all they could say was that because it’s more like a trend these days to say we want equal rights. Right! Hating something for the sake of hating it, very mature! According to this faction of people, which surprisingly also included some women, “Women are not equal to men. They never have been and can never be. Their minds and bodies are wired differently! Nature has made us different.”
So, yeah! If even in the 21st century, arguments like these exist, we might as well gently rub (or smash, as per the convenience) our heads against solid brick walls, instead of trying to have a conversation with such people.
No not all women hate men– some do, mind you- but not all. And no, fighting for equal rights, being assertive for something that one truly believes in, no matter the gender, doesn’t make you a male-hater. Not all feminists are females, obviously. And being a feminist doesn’t mean believing that women are always right. We all have a tendency to err. We all have the capability to learn from our mistakes. To be a feminist may mean various things to us. “Some just don’t realise that to keep someone who gave you birth, under your thumb and to exploit that gender isn’t right!” says Ruma (20).
As it is, a lot of gender sensitisation has begun to take shape in some of our urban areas. Unfortunately, though, it is still shrouded by layers of double standards and “the fear of society.” Granting education is good; giving women political rights is good- we are all feminists here- they would say. So what about letting women live normally during periods? What about not passing judgements about women who engage in pre-marital sex? What about not poking your nose in the matters of a woman’s relationship(s) and marriage? It’s okay, no? To dictate roughly 90% aspect of a woman’s life as the ‘omnipresent society’ pleases. It’s all right!!
Many women who do male dominant jobs, wear clothes as they please and keep short hair are commonly referred to as ‘parkati’ in many parts of North India. “Personally, I don’t even care!” says, Jem (20). “What’s the point in caring? Does the society care when so many women get kidnapped, raped or murdered? Nope! So they don’t have any business caring who I choose to sleep with or what kind of freedom I am going to snatch from them!”
And yes, this is the view shared by many. If no one really cares about what atrocities are befalling women, then why are they so freaked out about making women toe the line? Is it because their ‘normalcy’ lies in the knowledge that females are below males? Or is it that they fear that the opposite might happen?
Whatever the reason might be, it is awesome to be a feminist! Or just someone who believes in equality!
Image source: pixabay
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Just your average pen-wielding person with a knack for thinking inside the box.
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