“Feminism!” There! I dropped the F word. A word that garners mixed responses across the globe. It invokes a feeling of pride, struggle, anger and disgust, all at the same time. I have never seen people reacting more negatively to any idea, as they do to feminism. The world is quick to term us Feminazis, for simply speaking about equality. Agreed, there are many supposed feminists, who have changed the notion of the term, by making it seem like it’s against men, but from when did we start judging a movement by a minority that misrepresents the sect, and not the majority that has been slogging for a noble cause?
But there are men who need attention too, comes a quick rebuttal when feminism is spoken of. Of course men’s rights needs to be protected too, as do children’s rights, black lives rights, LGBT rights and the rights of the poor, among several others. But how does focusing on one issue, make the other issues less significant? No one tells an advocate of any other cause to keep mum about it, and be content with practicing it at their own home, instead of rambling about it. Feminism tends to invoke such negative responses, that many choose to prefer the term egalitarian over feminism. It’s like saying they’d distribute 100 dollars equally across rich and poor, because equality!
“The world has changed. We don’t need feminism anymore” is probably the most ignorant statement I’ve come across. Yes, the world has changed, but no! we still do need feminism, and here’s why.
1. Girl children are still aborted. Not just in villages, but in well educated, modern families too.
2. #MeToo. It took a hashtag for the world to realize how common sexual harassment is.
3. Rape is still justified. Not just in hush voices in social circles, but also in courthouses and amongst learned men, so much that many accused, have been acquitted on the basis of the clothes that the survivor was wearing at the time.
4. Periods are still a taboo. A woman in her periods, is still expected to not touch and do things, as if being on periods makes her an untouchable.
5. Dowry still exists. Even today, in several parts of the world, a bride’s father is expected to pay the groom, as if he were doing him a favor by taking her off his burdened shoulders.
6. Sexist connotations in traditions. Several traditions require the woman to ‘worship’ a man, place him above her, all in the name of traditions that were laid a thousand years ago, but are still supposed to make sense somehow.
7. There are more rules laid on women, than on men. Women are still expected to behave and live a certain way, from how they dress to how they speak. Any rule broken, often comes with a judgement of her character.
8. Men are appreciated for doing household chores and taking care of the children, women aren’t. There’s always a lucky wife whose husband helps her in the kitchen, a lucky mother, whose partner helps in parenting but never a lucky husband or lucky father for the same things when done by a woman, because the world expects it to be her duty. Many places don’t even have a parent room in the men’s washroom, as if assuming men simply do not handle the kids.
9. 90% of household product advertisements, are represented by women. Whether a housewife or a working woman, every household in advertisements have the woman talking of her favorite washing powder, kitchen appliance or cooking product, while the husband plays with the kids by the sofa. Times have changed, yet the idea that household chores come ‘naturally’ to women, is yet to change.
10. There are more men, than women, in most workplaces. Thanks to the distorted gender ratio and prejudices against women as employees.
11. Women still need permission in many countries. To get a haircut, wear something of their choice, go watch a movie, travel, study, or chase their dreams. Should something as simple and innocent, be made to feel like a task that needs a permit?
12. Men talking of Feminism is cooler than women doing it. Men speaking of equality are appreciated, but when a woman does it, people jump in defense and attack, wondering why she has to go on an on about it. Nobody has a problem when one rambles about pets, food, politics, beer or sports, but the moment a woman speaks of equality, irrespective of how often she does it, she’s asked to take the debate elsewhere.
Until pointed out, we don’t even realize the chauvinism that exists amongst us. We tend to accept so many ideas and gender roles blindly, and more often than not, such accusations are openly denied or refused to be accepted.
If you still find feminism to be an irrelevant, overrated concept, here’s an interesting site called Everyday Sexism, that shares real life experiences of several women across the globe, that will probably give you an insight into the issue.
It’s time feminism is seen for what it really is – equality of the sexes, advocating same freedom to both men and women. Nothing less, nothing more.