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Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s a feminist! Ever wondered, ‘What is a feminist?’ Let’s find out, shall we?
If you ever find yourself in a situation where you are being bothered by too many people, here is an easy and simple tip: simply announce, “I’m a feminist.” That’s it. You can be confident now that people will keep a safe distance from you. Why? Somehow, in recent times, feminism has become the latest F-word.
If one were to look up ‘What is a feminist?’ one would come across a simple and straight-forward explanation: “Someone who believes in the equality of the sexes.” Nothing wrong in that, isn’t it? However, the current state of affairs seems to indicate, that feminism appears to be the new plague, which is quite puzzling given the definition of feminism. Naturally, this leads one to assume that many people don’t really understand feminism. So, if you belong to the category of people who’ve ever pondered, ‘What is a feminist?”, here I am to help you along!
Feminists are not all khadi-wearing, placard-bearing, slogan-shouting activists who are ready to take up arms for any imagined slight against women. No, some of us are clad in saris, some in business suits, some in jeans and some of us are ready to crop off the jeans and wear shorts as well. The important point being – it is our right to choose what we wish to wear – and the more important point being – it’s absolutely none of your business.
I come across some women, who look longingly at my lipstick and sigh, “My husband doesn’t like lipstick.” That’s absolutely fine – if he doesn’t like lipstick, he needn’t wear it, right? You like it? You flaunt it! In fact, I even met a lady who commented, “Hey you wear quite colourful shoes! My husband doesn’t allow me to buy anything other than black shoes.” Seriously? A whack from any coloured shoe hurts the same, people!
Far from the imaginary concept that feminists are all embittered women who have a bucket load of angst to fling at men, most of us – believe it or not – have nothing against men. In fact, patriarchy seeps so much into everything around us, that people seem to view even feminism through the lens of patriarchy. Excuse me, please! Not everything in this world is about men.
Feminism is about the empowerment and uplifting of women, and it automatically doesn’t mean an embargo on men. In feminism, we invite and need men to be partners in progress – but the prime focus of the entire movement is really not men at all.
Many of us are in healthy and loving relationships while many are not – out of choice, the keyword being choice. We are not antsy and desperate women who are “not getting any” as some like to crudely put it. And while on the subject of relationships, let me also make it clear that no, not all of us are lesbians as many keyboard warriors hiding behind their computer screens aka internet trolls suggest. Our sexual leanings have hardly anything to do with the question what is a feminist?
We live in your home, the house next door, we work at your office, you meet us every day on your commute to work, on your vacations… it’s just that we don’t really conform to your microscopic and myopic view of what is a feminist so, perhaps you haven’t really recognised us so far. There is no secret feminist diet that roils up our blood to fight against inequality and unfairness. We eat the same things as you do – it’s just that we have a little more common sense than you, which enables us to understand what feminism is.
Some people seem to think, that Feminism is a new found concept; which is really not true. It is not the latest “It” word which will eventually die down and fade away if you simply and quietly lay low for a while. Remember, that grandmother of yours who even though was widowed at a young age, refused to give in to societal constraints and slogged day and night, often to the sniggers and snide remarks of others, to educate her daughter? Do you recall that aunt who refused to be ill-treated at the hands of her in-laws and plucked up the guts to walk out of her marriage despite being aware of the stigma that comes with divorce? Heard of that uncle who took pride in cooking for his family and looking after the house while his wife was away at work, never once bothering about other people’s sidelong glances and comments about being a “househusband”? Perhaps they didn’t actively announce it, in so many words, that they were feminists; but their actions truly speak volumes.
So, no, feminism is not going to go and hide under a rock anytime soon, considering the long winded path that lies ahead of us on the road to gender equality. Hence, my advice to you would be to educate yourself on what is a feminist if you wish to avoid looking like a total nincompoop!
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Anne John plays with words for a living and would probably do the same even
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