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Even Though I Am A Feminist, I Am Not Insulted When A Woman Tells Me She Is Not A Feminist

Because many women have fought for this 'privilege' before her, she has a legal right to express her opinions.

Because many women have fought for this ‘privilege’ before her, she has a legal right to express her opinions. In spite of the fact that I am a feminist, I am not offended when a woman tells me she is not a feminist.

I am a feminist who doesn’t get mad when a woman says to me that she is not a feminist. I have a lot of friends. Most of them are feminists. Most of them who say so, also happen to be women. Most of my feminist friends get annoyed when they hear a woman say she is not one.

But to be honest, it makes me silently proud when a woman says that. Because she is entitled to her views and can give them a voice today only because a lot of women have worked hard before her so that she can have this ‘privilege’.

An ignorant, unthankful feminist.

Privilege? Yes, until WE ALL women have this right, it’s a privilege of us few women. Such a woman is part of the feminist caucus, a woman who has a voice, is aware of her rights, but unaware of how she got them. An ignorant, unthankful feminist.

Do I sound arrogant when I say it? It’s actually my pride as a feminist that reflects. As a woman, it feels good to see that another woman has her voice, her opinions, her thoughts (even if she disagrees with me on feminism).

This disagreement could or could not lead to discourse or dialogue. But 30 years ago, only a handful of Indians knew this term. Go a little further back in time, and we see how our women first got voting rights with the birth of a new nation – something astounding, for many nations even in the West had not achieved that sort of equality that time.

But we took Universal Adult Franchise for granted. But just because we didn’t know or define the term feminism in India back then, does it make us any less feminist?

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Feminism is not a concept or an idea!

Now, I am completely against conservatives who say feminism is a ‘modern’, ‘Western’, ‘borrowed’ concept. It’s not a concept or an idea. It’s how a society functions. You either treat your women at par with your men or you don’t.

It’s not just about their political rights (that exists mostly just on paper), or access to public places. Or the activities that men can indulge in but not women. It’s about everything that people question or point a finger at just because a woman did it. And in case it goes on to give undesired results, it was the woman’s fault.

Fault and feminist struggle are closely associated. And it’s also associated with constructed structural hierarchy in which women are conveniently placed to be marginalized.

Who is a marginalized one? The one who does not have access to resources, rights, justice and can be exploited and blamed easily, again and again. As a community, women do fall in this category.

Imagine a Dalit woman. She would be doubly marginalized in this situation. Whose fault is it? Her own – to be born in a Dalit and a woman. And until we change this line of thought and hold her hand and pull her to make her stand next to a privileged upper-caste man of her own age, we have failed. And we have a long way to go to make this a reality in today’s India. It only goes on to prove that our feminism from voting rights of women to today, has mostly only existed just on paper.

Why is feminism so misunderstood?

Then why is feminism so misunderstood when it’s actually the need of the hour?

That has got to do with people being unaware, not discussing much openly and not passionate enough to rise up for women’s causes and eliminate the hurdles on the way.

Because it serves the purpose of a handful of few.

And on the other hand, there is a lot of (justified) anger in many women who call themselves feminists.

Once a few women reach the top of the ladder with merit and hard work, sometimes their entire struggle is disregarded. Sometimes disparities are not acknowledged. A lot of times personal spaces are invaded and other times favours are asked.

While this can completely baffle a privileged, educated woman like myself, to think of a girl in today’s India who could not attend school because she got her periods is, if not infuriating, then what?

But between this infuriation and helplessness, this struggle and race, these words and voice, the abuses and statistics, much gets lost.

Coming to the handful few who are benefited by this hierarchy – it all comes down to cheap labour.

While it’s morally wrong and economically, a great loss to the GDP, women and little girls working at lesser wages, not being a part of organized labour, having no rights, serving at homes and at the workplace, providing household care with no ‘economic’ value actually form one wheel of the cycle that carries the entire load, if not one and half of the entire two wheels.

More importantly, these girls and women are under the ‘service’ and under the ‘shelter’ of men they work for.

This makes their exploitation and abuse easy.

Independent women are a threat to this structure.

And the best way to keep women entangled in this vicious cycle is by keeping women away from formal education and organized groups that can fight for rights and demands.

Any little who raises her voice, or is ‘rebellious’, or is obedient, is a fish that spoils the entire tank. She is one that other girls are taught to stay away from.

Feminists are portrayed as ‘home breakers’, man-haters, male exploiters and culture-tradition bashers.

Similarly, feminists are portrayed as ‘home breakers’, man-haters, male exploiters and culture-tradition bashers who work under the ‘Western’ influence.

It’s not that feminists are a threat to conventional, conservative societies.

But feminists do speak up against any tradition or culture that exterminates women or asks them to make a ‘sacrifice’ or put others before them.

Because these ‘others’ do benefit from such traditions, and the slightest of inconveniences makes them blame it all on the feminists and call it their fault.

Yes, it is disappointing that many women do not acknowledge that past struggles of women have given them their present rights, just the fact that more and more women are speaking their minds, is a win-win for all feminists and the struggle.

Till then, we’ll do with misunderstood feminism than no feminism at all.

Image Source: Still from Angry Indian Goddesses

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About the Author

Chaitanya Srishti

Mostly writing, other times painting. Here to celebrate little wins. I am on the same page as you, just a different book - you read mine, I'll read yours. read more...

33 Posts | 47,167 Views

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