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Why has ‘feminism’ become one of the most hated words in today’s world?
We celebrate ‘International Women’s Day’ on March 8th. WhatsApp is flooded with messages and videos. Everyone from my bank to the life insurance agent sent their heartfelt wishes. The neighbourhood parlour and bakery even have special schemes for the day. Do I have a problem with that? No of course not. But is this what women’s rights and feminism are all about?
The mere mention of the word ‘feminism’ irks a lot of people I know, including many women. These people are not wife beaters or have conventional patriarchal mindsets, in fact, most are modern and progressive but have an inherent dislike for all feminists.
‘I am all for women rights but I hate all feminists.’ This is what most of them say.
What makes people hate feminists so much? After all, isn’t it all about equality?First things first – Male bashing is not Feminism. The key word is equality. One doesn’t need to denigrate one gender to create balance. Also, it is not about asking for special privileges. Equal job opportunities and equal wages also mean equal working hours and equal admonishment. Women do not need ‘Reserved’ seats on a bus or train unless they are pregnant. We are capable of pushing a human baby out of our body and bleed for 4-5 days every month; spending some time standing in a bus is really no big deal. Leave the seat for those who really need it.
Another issue is the warped idea of feminism. What media portrays as feminism is a woman who smokes, drink or has casual sex. By all means do that if that’s what you want, but don’t make these the cardinal signs of feminism. My house help refused to make her daughter quit school despite her family pressures. Her daughter is now working in a multinational firm and about to go abroad for a project. She is the first one in her entire family to have a passport or ever sit in a plane. The mother who fought for equal education rights of her daughter and the daughter who made use of that opportunity are real feminists.
I also have an issue when people say ‘not all men.’ Yes, all men do not harass women but unfortunately, all women have been discriminated against, or harassed or abused in one form or other in their life. If women from economically weaker sections are fighting for basic rights to education and hygiene; a large section of those from so-called privileged sections suffer in different ways. From not being allowed to pursue careers to being treated as maids; not being given respect to facing subtle gender bias in daily aspects of life. This discrimination is real.
Let us not belittle those who fight for equality. Let us not vilify the word ‘feminism.’
Happy Women’s Day
Dentist, writer, corporate healthcare professional. In my earlier avatar, I taught budding dentists and published
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