Flipping through the TV channels one day, my remote inadvertently happened to get stuck on one particular channel which spoke about feminism. Thank Heavens! It did. It was that incident that made me ponder what I am about to put across in this article.
The protagonist was talking to another man, about a woman, which left me quite startled for a good whole minute. The dialogue was, “Typical feminist type Ki ladki hai yaar,Tu handle nahi kar payega, Bhai kahin aur try kar….” (“She’s a typical feminist girl. You won’t be able to handle her. Try finding someone else.”) I was so taken back by how wrong their notion of Feminism was and how it is being imbibed in the minds of people.
Deepika Padukone – “My Choice”
What Is Feminism?
Although I know the literal meaning of feminism, I’m still going to post the formal definition for your benefit: – “Range of political movements, Ideologies &Social movements that share a common goal :To define, establish ,achieve political, economic, personal &Social rights for women that are equal to those of men.”
(You can read more about its evolution in phases on Wikipedia). I thought the formal definition was important as it would help steer you in the right direction and help you understand what feminism is actually all about.
Whenever the word Feminism or Feminist is mentioned an image of a man hating, nose snubbing, agitated woman; raging a furor for female dominance over all other living organisms on this earth, spews across our mind; which is against the actual idea the theory of feminism advocates. Feminism is not an advocacy of a clique of women who are evangelizing female dominance or superiority. On the contrary all it demands is a mere equal share in the pie.
All it propagates is that no sex is dominant over the other but is a mere equal. And has an interdependent correlation to each other.
Why Is It Called Feminism?
Ever wondered why the word ‘Feminism’ was coined and why isn’t there any word that advocates abolishing stereotyped discrimination or prejudice against Men? The answer is simple; there has never been a need for one! For eons now women have been treated as second rate citizens, prioritized after men.
Rather, their reticent & coy behavior eventually became an accepted norm, which worked like a predefined template depicting the manner in which women are supposed to behave! In fact, any other behavior came across as rebellious which in effect was required to be tamed.
“You educate a man; you educate a man. You educate a woman; you educate a generation.” – Brigham Young
All feminism preaches is that Woman is not meant to be considered as just a denigrating, ranting suffrage! It is much beyond that! Although Feminist campaigns have been generally considered main forces behind major historical societal changes like right to vote, hold office, equal rights within a marriage; it has also worked to promote bodily autonomy and integrity to protect women from rape, sexual harassment, physical assaults and domestic violence.
The whole notion is to imbibe the idea in the minds of people that we need not fight for all these universal acceptances in this generation but, accept it as a fact that needs no ratification.
‘Ki’ & ‘Ka’ – The Indian take:
Our Indian society is such that any new change against the orthodox ‘typecast set of beliefs’ is unwelcome. We are raised in a manner where we are expected to see men and women performing expected duties.
Man being the bread winner and woman being the homemaker; Blue for boys and pink for girls. So narrow-minded is the typical approach. Although this thinking has changed quite a bit, we still have to constantly work through this mental block. That’s what Feminism tries to do!
No offence intended but, we view men and women in such type-casted, parochial attitudes that there arose a need for a movie like “KI & KA”. Why is it a matter of such amusement when a man chooses to cook, be home maker or be there for his family? Our society immediately proclaims him to be an irresponsible man. Unworthy of bearing the responsibility of his family on his fragile shoulders; castigated as unworthy of any deserving respect.
On the contrary, when his woman chooses a professional stage in a corporate domain, she is viewed with high regards in this ‘egalitarian society‘. All that’s left to understand here is that no one is unequal to another unless they neglect their responsibility to make a living.
Why Do We Still Judge??
It is a matter of their respective choices, of what roles they prefer. Why can’t we stop judging people on what part they choose to play on the basis of their sex. We should see it as a matter of choice out of sheer interest.
Why don’t we stop making assumptions about people based on their biological makeup. Instead learn to respect their choices on grounds of their mental makeup! It is high time we got rid of this rudimentary conformist attitude and imbibed a simple concept of ‘Gender Neutrality’ as Feminism advocates.
If we proceed further into the angle of the “Ki & Ka” showcasing the bread winner of the two being the dominant one in the house, then what picture should you paint when you look at the modern woman who multi-tasks on a daily basis – perfectly balancing not only her personal and professional life but, also juggles series of complicated relationships with perfect ease.
Despite being able to manage it all so well we have never claimed to be superior to our counterparts. We have been able to manage all this with ease due to the support, care and love provided by our partners.
Are Men Also Targeted?
A perfect example would be this quote by Chetan Bhagat- “I just don’t see myself clogged in the four walls of Corporate culture. Rather I want to live the joy of writing stories. I want to spend my life seeing my children grow every day and grow along with them. For this I need not be a woman.”
In my opinion, such thought process doesn’t make him any less of a Man. Especially when compared to those who barely know which school or standard their children are studying in? Remember mere donation of sperm doesn’t make you a father!
Indian mentality is in particular obsessed with the birth of a male child for it is assumed that he shall continue the family’s legacy, earn his own living and take upon him the family’s responsibility. An advertisement which confused me was when the father said:”Tu mere ghar Ki beti nahi, beta hai.” (“You’re not the daughter of this house, you are the son.”). This made me question whether he was praising his daughter or being sarcastic.
A statement such as this angers me. Doesn’t this line subconsciously define the competition of a Man’s superiority to that of a woman? Why subject a woman to such humiliation just to objectify her or to compare her? She is equally competent and challenging in every sphere just like you but, with a different biological makeup.
Both man & woman are like two sides of the same coin, serving as a base for each other.
Are Women Still Subdued?
Gone are the days when women were expected to a hold a reticent attitude towards everything thrown at them. Where all a woman did was adhere to this step ford attitude with a stifling discomfort to a certain extent.
Eventually with the course of time women could no longer hold these atrocities. The inequities bestowed unto them, being treated as second rate citizens; they garnered the gall to rant against this system of patriarchy and relegation in unison. It was only after this had happened that the phases of feminism evangelizing the vendetta of equality.
Why We Need Feminism
In all honesty there has been a lot of change in the male behavior and attitude they carry towards women. I completely agree in cohesion with the modern theory of feminism supported by feminists’ like Bell Hooks, that feminism should also include men’s liberation within its aim, because men are also harmed by traditional gender roles. The only way to clear the mist is by men stepping in to revolutionize the whole idea of feminism by evangelizing it from their side.
Men helping advocate the principles of feminism will help remove the falsified tags of anti-men, man hating creatures that are associated with feminism. Until Men choose to make it a trend to abolish orthodox taboos of misogyny & patriarchy, this movement cannot grow and evolve in the manner that it should.
Women have never proclaimed to be a superior sex but, have only asked for a status of due equality in every sphere. All we want to propagate is that gender neutrality be common sense and not some principle we need to preach to people. The whole psychology revolving around women & Feminism be transpired and is seen with a fresh prism with neutral perspective with mutual support bringing out the best in each other.
What We Mean To Say Is…
Let’s put aside this childish approach of proclaiming one sex being superior to the other. Let us widen our horizons and welcome each other’s worth for one cannot evolve without the other. We aren’t Anti-men rather, we need men to emancipate and spread the ideologies of Feminism. Yes! We need you to enlighten the world with something as common, but as important like oxygen.
Let’s make words like patriarchy, misogyny, hierarchy; something of the old world. I can’t wait for a time where children are taught in history of a movement called Feminism. And how it got revolutionized with men taking the lead to eradicate the very reasons for its existence. Feminism need not be an ideology anymore but a way of life for “Gender Neutrality is Common-sense”