At the very first take, I’d like to paint my picture as that of a ‘gender equalist’ and not a feminist; because people today don’t recognise the essence of feminism and go on about creating ruckus in the name of feminism. So, I find it in the interest of the reader to use the term gender equality.
What has become of feminism is what can’t be described by the sole use of words. Most people, especially the female, don’t even know the meaning of feminism, or what the spirit of feminism is, for that matter. More than often, feminism is mistaken for putting women on a pedestal, whose level is touted to be above the pedestal for men. It’s not me, per se, who believes or says that males are superior to females in any sorts; but the society, the patriarchal society. From keen observations of my surroundings, I’d quote the example of our very households, where the male member of the household oppresses females, in some or the other way. Like, even today, males hold the upper hand in every say, the very essence of a patriarchal society. Every decision is made by the male member, if he’s said ‘no’ to something; it’s considered a cardinal sin to oppose that. This applies to his sister, wife, daughter, extended family; well, because he’s a man!
Ironically, no one in the society finds it atrocious enough to question it, because we females are taught to give into the male’s whims, whatever they may be. So, our very own society suggests that men are superior to the females.
I’d take a moment to mention my inferences of the news headlines where Maneka Gandhi, earlier in the year was quoted as saying “all violence is male generated”. This statement was one, which, if the ethoses of feminism are taken into account, is not something a feminist would say. Not to mention the flak that Ms. Gandhi faced then, there began a drawn out debate on what the outlines of feminism were, even if someone painted its picture in broad strokes.
Talking about broad strokes, people also never acknowledge the fact that females can also oppress other females. We are always keen on blaming the males so much, we forget about the cruelties of females towards other females.
To make this clearer, I’d make an example from Bollywood. Actress Kareena Kapoor 3-4 years back called fellow actresses Vidya Balan and Sonakshi Sinha ‘fat’ and ‘unsexy’. While the debate can be endless over this issue, the actress received stern criticism for her statement. Females act against other females cruelly and make negative views for them, for which, physical beauty is a very common reason for that.
So what actually is feminism?
Let’s change the nuts and bolts and narrow it down first to what it ISN’T. So this is what feminism isn’t.
Man-hating or domination of the male. Feminism does not mean putting females above men on any front; or hating men. As a strong-headed independent woman, why would you need to hate men to embrace your womanhood?
You don’t need to tear men down to bring women up. This is where the ethos of feminism lies. But, most women, or I’d say, ‘misguided feminists’ keep this option as an open resort to any situation. “Oh, I’m at such a juncture in life where I don’t need men for anything; I’m independent; I hate men.” THIS becomes unacceptable. No really! There are a lot of self-proclaimed feminists who do ‘hate’ men. Atrocious much?
Yes. Hitting your male spouse over petty arguments because hey? Guess what, I’m a feminist! That’s not feminism, that’s being stupid.
People say what feminists are doing is demand respect. WHAT? WHAT EVEN IS THAT? Feminism has got nothing to do with women demanding respect from men. It’s simple moral science here. If you want respect from someone, GIVE them respect first, in order to receive it back.
That’s not feminism, as per me. Neither is promoting matriarchy. Proving female supremacy over the male kind can never be feminism.
VERY IMPORTANTLY, for a man to be a feminist, chivalry is not essential. Why should he open the door for you or pull your chair or pay for your dinner? Just why? He might do if he likes it; but chivalry is not a pre-requisite when it comes to the spirit of feminism in men. Neither should his act of chivalry be mistaken for feminism.
Feminism not restricted to just male-female equality, but is a broad idea that finds its foundation in equality for all genders, races, castes and ages. Gender-equality is a big ingredient of feminism, but not the sole one.
Feminism is a right, not demanded by only women who are oppressed, feminism is voiced by men who face discrimination, be it at the workplace or wherever; men who are victims of rape (yes).
So, putting a nice round bindi on your forehead, copious amounts of kohl under your eyes, nerdy glasses, complete with a kurta-jhola does not make you a feminist.
What makes a feminist (or a gender equality, for me) is the moral belief that we all are essentially humans and no one is a bigger soul than someone else.