When Women Like Kareena Say “I’m Not A Feminist” With No Clue How Feminism Made Their Lives Better!

Women who think they don’t need feminism often benefit from the struggle of women who came before them. Yet, with their attitude, they actually make the workplace more difficult for the women who come after them.

“I am not a feminist”, a lot of women proclaim proudly. “I love men.”

It is not just older women who make such statements, even young women do. like Kareena Kapoor did in this now viral video from a couple of years ago. She says “Well I believe in equality I won’t say I am a feminist, I would say I am a woman. And, above all, I am a human being.”

I have had young women I know say this to me, that they’re “not a feminist”.

Some do so in order to impress men- because they believe that men perceive feminists as strident creatures and they don’t want to be cast in that role. But most do so because they have an unclear understanding of what feminism actually means.

This is an attempt to clear some of the misconceptions of these women.

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“I am not a feminist. I don’t hate men.”

Women who make this statement harbour under the misconception that feminism is a male v/s female battle, and that feminist seek to destroy men.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Stripped to its basics, feminism seeks to establish a world where there is personal, social, economic and political equality for both genders. All that feminism attempts to do is to destroy patriarchal ideals which treat women as lesser beings than men, and establish equity among the genders. Feminism certainly doesn’t want to oppress men, it only tries to stop the systemic oppression of women.

Feminism is not a battle between the sexes. However, since society today is patriarchal in nature, seeking equality does mean that men lose some of the traditional privileges that they enjoyed. This, however, shouldn’t stop women from being feminists.

“Men are not trash. My father/ brother/ husband is a man. They are not trash.”

Feminists don’t think individual men are trash either. When a feminist says “Men are Trash”, she is drawing attention to the fact that the power structure is stacked against women, and that men often knowingly or unknowingly indulge in behavior that is detrimental to women.

This old example best explains why those of us who say ‘Men are Trash’ say so- if there were six shot glasses, five filled with tequila and one with poison, would you pick up a glass at random and drain it? You will not, because while you know that five glasses contain tequila, one contains poison, and you don’t want to risk imbibing poison. ‘Men are Trash’ merely serves as a reminder to women that some men can be dangerous, and since you have no way of knowing which one is dangerous, you should beware of all of them.

“Men are Trash” is not a judgment on men, it is a plea to men to get them to examine if they are doing enough to call out toxic masculinity and to help create an equitable society for women. Because it is only in an equitable society that women can worry less about personal safety.

“I am not weak. I don’t need feminism.”

Women who say this seem to imply that it is a sign of weakness to talk about institutional sexism. However nothing can be further from the truth. To succeed professionally, women are required to be stronger, tougher, and more qualified than their male counterparts. They are judged more critically than men, and are repeatedly forced to prove their competence and their commitment. They are also paid less than men of similar experience and expertise. While many of us have worked in an environment that has not been empathetic towards women, we should strive to ensure that systemic inequality is reduced for each succeeding generation. And to ask for that is not a sign of weakness.

Ironically, women who think they don’t need feminism are women who are often benefiting from the enabling environment created by other women. Yet, with their attitude of not wanting what they consider are concessions, they are actually making the workplace more difficult for the women who come after them.

Photo by Jen Theodore on Unsplash

Acknowledging structural inequity is not a sign of weakness. Demanding that a woman be treated with dignity is not an unreasonable demand. It merely draws attention to the fact that in order to succeed, a woman shouldn’t have to be so much stronger and better than the men they’re working with.

“I am not a feminist. I want my man to take care of me.”

Feminism doesn’t reject traditional gender roles; all that feminism does is to state that traditional roles need not be the default. It creates a space for re-examining gender stereotypes and establishing a relationship that works best for both partners.

A family where the woman is a stay-at-home mother and the man goes out and works, could be a feminist couple, as long as those are roles that the couple have chosen and/ or negotiated for themselves.

“I don’t want to be a feminist, I like to wear pretty clothes” OR “I don’t smoke or drink, I am not a feminist”

Feminism does not typecast women into sartorial or behavioural stereotypes. You can be a feminist in a burqa or a bikini. You can choose to smoke and drink, or do neither. A feminist can wear red lipstick and a feminist can shun make-up.

Feminism is not prescriptive. It lets you choose what you wear, how you project yourself and what behaviour you indulge in.

In an ideal world, all women would be feminists. Because feminism gives women the freedom to negotiate the terms in which they choose to live their lives.

In fact, in an ideal world, everyone would be a feminist. Because at the core of feminism is the political, economic, social and personal equity of genders. Shouldn’t that be what we all strive towards?

Image source: Twitter

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About the Author

Natasha Ramarathnam

Natasha works in the development sector, where most of her experience has been in Education and Livelihoods. She is passionate about working towards gender equity, sustainability and positive climate action. And avid reader and occasional read more...

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