Why the world needs Feminism

In lieu of the recent sexist and completely idiotic statements politicians are making, thanks to one of the most dramatic, almost soap-opera like, elections in the history of the country, I see so many problems at so many levels that I don’t even know where to start. First of all let me start by saying that it is not a war between the sexes that is going on and anyone who thinks that it is, is just making the whole discourse of feminism redundant. Patriarchy is an ideology that is carried forward  and perpetuated by both men and women and both men and women are affected by the discrimination that is a result of patriarchy. Having said that, feminism, a counter to patriarchal form of oppression, does not mean recognising only women as sufferers of patriarchy but rather confronting the inherent hypocrisy of the ideology.

Personally, being a part of an institute that is known for being the largest feminist space in the country( Lady Sri Ram College, my alma mater), I was apprehensive about labeling myself as a feminist, I was wary of conforming to a fixed notion of what it is to be a feminist. What we all have in mind is a vision of a more egalitarian society where people are judged not on the basis of their sex, gender, sexual orientation, class, caste, race etc. I have admitted in a post earlier that the world, the society functions through inequality and discrimination, but even that is not the problem. What we can do is fight for our rights, work hard and not acknowledge or perpetuate stereotypes. I know within our own society, a lot of stereotypes are associated with the feminists, femi-Nazi, being one of them. What we are looking at here is a mentality that is associating, for comic purposes, an ideology of equality to fascism; A mentality that looks at women who are prepared to fight for their rights as a group of fascist, dictatorial, group of tyrants.

The debate that has shaken up the nation in recent times is the issue regarding gender discrimination. Let’s take a moment here to think about the reverse sexism that is happening. Men have started feeling threatened by the whole discourse itself.  Men in the work place now live in the fear of being sued, fired, ashamed, blamed, reprimanded for sexual harassment by women. Most of them stay away from such discussions because they feel like anything they say will be held in contempt. So they will be patronizing and only say good things about women, even if they don’t believe in it, so as to avoid being called a misogynist.  Do you see the problem there? Sure these men are not going to go around raping women or exploiting them violently, but everyday and every moment they will kill the morale of the women in their lives by considering them weak, by imposing on them such insanely high standards that will eventually exhaust all the life out of them, by reprimanding her if she does not achieve that standard, by calling her a man if she succeeds in the world, by labeling her ‘high maintenance’ if she doesn’t accept nonsense from you, by telling her that she needs to carry herself in a certain manner, by calling her a ‘slut’ or a ‘whore’ if she enjoys having fun, by locking her up inside because the ‘boys can’t control themselves’, by telling her that her skirt is too short or her button is open, by telling her she can’t go out late in the night, by being suspicious of her sexual life, by being suspicious if she is a divorcee, by perpetually referring to her as a girl- when does she become a lady?

To top it all, every month there will be news regarding some man in power taking advantage of his female employee, some idiot who can’t keep it in his pants referring to the laws against harassment as ‘draconian’, some minister saying that rape is a ‘mistake’ and ‘boys make mistakes, why should they be reprimanded for it?’ when is the society going to accept woman as a human being, as an equal? By saying “boys can’t control themselves”  you are basically caling them sexual predators and you’re being unfair to those men who spend every day respecting women.

My problem is when feminism comes to be associated with a kind of sex war. It is not a war against men, it is a war against a whole thought system.

You don’t have to be the loudest person in the room to make a point, sure, but when no one wants to listen and it is something that needs to be heard at some point, we need to listen to that person. This is why feminism in India needs to take a radical step forward. We need to learn and behave. The people in this country need to have more integrity in their characters, we need to ditch complacency and our ‘adjusting’ attitude towards life. There’s a lot that needs to change.

Addition (29.07.2014):
There are a lot of posts online that goes by “Why I am not a feminist” , I just have this to say that ignorance is foolish. Feminism is not counter patriarchy, it is an ideology that believes in equality. So if you tell me or anyone that “we don’t want feminism because …” know this simply that you don’t know what you’re talking about even. Educate yourself.
Since when did demanding for equality become a problem, oh always!


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