Am I a feminist
A friend asked me the other day, “Why are you such an intimidating feminist?” I replied, “Have you ever been slapped and abused only because you were not a son?” My friend was silent, almost sympathetic. I wasn’t. “Have you been raped and couldn’t do anything about it because that man was your husband?”
Despite this outburst and many others, I still remain confused about “feminist’ as a label. I know I am not fighting for anyone’s rights but my own. In fact I am not fighting; I am just trying to demand space for myself in this society, not as a woman, but as a human being. I do not wish to be ogled at in public just because I have breasts. I do not want my bottom to be pinched in a public bus because I am weak. And I sincerely wish every woman would give herself that respect to demand that space she deserves as a human.
Hardcore, not really
And yet, I remain hesitant in declaring myself a “hardcore” feminist. I think, my discomfort comes from the sarcasm this term receives. The image projected is of an angry, hateful woman who goes out of her way to prove that women are better than men. Feminists hate men. Feminists chop penises. I don’t.
A dear male friend once wrote an anti-feminism (not anti-women) article for which he received a lot of criticism from the advocates of feminism. He wrote something that made me think. He said that women should not ask for women’s rights but for human rights. His argument was based on the premise that men, children and even transsexuals suffer from inequality and violence. Abuse is not exclusively a woman’s domain and hence they should not make it their own sob story. Ideologically, I agree.
The man’s burden
In our society, men have too much responsibility forced upon their shoulders. They are the bread earners, the protectors and the strong ones. Men don’t cry, they don’t show their weaknesses and they are expected to know what to do in times of crisis. Women are not expected to do any such things.
Women are supposed to marry to earn a living, have and raise children and always listen to and depend on their husbands. The stereotypical raising of boys and girls has given strength to patriarchy. Whether those stereotypes are formed on the basis of politics, religion or culture, they have now become deeply entrenched. A fight against patriarchy essentially becomes a fight against religion and culture.
So if being a feminist entails a fight against patriarchy, I seem to be exactly that. But in my concept, to demand equal rights for women, the ideology behind feminism, one must demand equal rights for all to begin with. Men should shun their roles as the supreme sex who carries the burden of the world. Women MUST depart from their concept of being the weaker gender.
It is a lot I am asking for. Male egos will have to be redefined. Women will have to drop their “Damsel in distress” syndrome. Before any legislation is to be implemented effectively, the change has to come within each one of us.
The movement of feminism had come about when some women recognized that they were being treated badly. It is time that men also realize how the patriarchal system works against them as well. And then maybe we can rename feminism as humanism. Until then, I’m a feminist and proud of it!
Author: Soofia Says
Editor: Manasi Gopalakrishnan
Date21.11.2013 | 8:51