Payal takes a hard look at either side of feminism, with its various colours and hues. Her bold, erudite, tongue-in-cheek approach makes us pause and think. Read more about it, in her weekly column, exclusively in Different Truths.
It’s not a surprise that not just men but women as well apply pejorative terms to Feminists. Anything that shakes up society and causes change, has its detractors and its supporters.
What surprises me is how deeply misunderstood Feminism is by those who ‘allegedly’ practice it as well as the rejecters.
These are the arguments against Feminism
1. Feminism Breaks up Families
True. It can cause huge rifts where women are expected to ‘know their place’ and work as enablers for men, rather than follow their own path.
Should the construct/ concept of ‘family’ oppress some?
Oh yes! Life was easy when women stayed at home and looked after the children.
But now, if she wants something different, she has the right to go for it.
If that means that the man partners in managing home and children – is that unreasonable? If she wants a career – it is her right.
If she chooses to, or not to, have a child, it’s her right.
If a man wants to look after the home, Feminism supports his right.
If a man chooses not to be a father, Feminism supports it.
The idea of ‘family’ and gender roles within it has to change for society to evolve into something better.
Feminism creates a new family that empowers all its members.
2. Feminism Hates Men
That can be true – but only of individuals.
Let me put this very simply- terrorism has created a hatred of Muslims.
Is it correct? No. But the actions of some Muslims have created a fear and hatred of others. Until all Muslims stand up and roundly denounce terrorism, and disassociate themselves from terrorists, they will continue to be feared.
Similarly the action of some men, have created a fear and hatred of others. And no, thats not right either.
However, if you were beaten, suppressed, denied, dismissed, sexualised, abused, taken advantage of, raped, tortured, wronged by someone, you’d probably hate that person too.
So #yesallmen and #Banmen until those men who stand by quietly join in to say that what some men do to women is unacceptable.
Feminism is for everybody who believes in equality, fair play and justice for all human beings. For equality to become a reality, the greatest change, in fact comes from men – in their attitudes towards women, and for men – because feminism frees them from hidebound machoism that can be suffocating for many men. Don’t fight us – join us.
3. Not all Women Support Feminism
Correct. Because each one of us is a product of our environment and upbringing. Changing ideas don’t work for everyone. It is difficult to engage with a generalised idea or concept unless you have:
· the freedom to think and choose your own ideology
· never experienced the effects of patriarchy
· exposure and bandwidth to think beyond that which is taught to you
· a stomach for skirmish at the very least, or the strength to fight empathy
Even in the West, there are pockets of emancipation, and pockets of deep patriarchal beliefs and oppression. Change is never easy, acceptable or universal.
4. Feminists are Hairy Lesbians
Some may be. Others are not. Let me explain that neither choosing to be hairy or being a lesbian has anything to do with Feminism. Women who do not want to shave or get rid of body hair, are exercising their right to reject socially ordained concepts of beauty. Yes, I know, many women themselves reject these ideas of not shaving. Many of our ideas of beauty or sexual appeal, for both men and women arise from socialisation and deeply entrenched beliefs about what is sexy. It’s social, cultural and goes so far back that it become the accepted norm. Some women may see value in questioning basic precepts of beauty, and question why we have to subscribe to it and that is their belief system.
As for being Lesbian – once again, that’s simply sexual orientation and nothing to do with Feminism.
Let me tell you a little secret – growing out the armpit hair is a fabulous tactic to draw attention to Feminism and create disruptive dialogue – so the next time you call someone who is a hairy feminist a hairy feminist they may just thank you – because you noticed and that is what they were trying to do.
5. Feminists are Rabid
Some are. And some aren’t. We each have a right to our beliefs and the intensity with which we practice them. Slavery wasn’t overcome through pacifism, although many slaves were forced by fear and circumstances not to protest. There is no movement in the world that doesn’t have radicals and those who choose a different way.
Women are forced to fight for their right to be treated in a humane, just, respectful manner receives equal pay, validation, and political representation. And if you want to term that as Rabid Feminism, be my guest. What fight is won without a fight? Sometimes a strong action is needed to create a voice, to make a difference, fight a war – thank God for those women who have the stomach for it. More power to them. In my opinion, when women are not afraid to call out the very men they are in a relationship with, friends with, or connected to in some way they are quickly termed ‘Rabid’.
Interestingly, the use of some adjectives like ‘rabid’ with feminism, is just the argument for how women are perceived in society. Notice how certain adjectives are always applied to women?
According to the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, “to imagine a language means to imagine a form of life…the example “rabid feminist” is possible because of its relationship to our form of life – a life in which women are caricatured as shrill, bossy and nagging, and caring about women’s rights is extreme and fanatical.”
I’d like to quote these feminists and in these quotes, you’ll find the answers to all misrepresentation of Feminists and Feminism.
Helen Mirren: “I didn’t define myself as a feminist until quite recently, but I had always lived like a feminist and believed in the obvious; that women were as capable and as energetic and as inspiring as men. But to join a movement called feminism seemed too didactic, too political. However, I have come to understand that feminism is not an abstract idea but a necessity if we are to move us forward and not backward into ignorance and fearful jealousy. Now, I am a declared feminist. And I would encourage you to be the same.
Beyonce: “We need to stop buying into the myth about gender equality. It isn’t a reality yet. Humanity requires both men and women, and we are equally important and need one another. So why are we viewed as less than equal? These old attitudes are drilled into us from the very beginning. We have to teach our boys the rules of equality and respect so that as they grow up, gender equality becomes a natural way of life. And we have to teach our girls that they can reach as high as humanly possible.”
Pharrell Williams: “I would love to see a woman run the country. Historically, this world has been run by man. And what would the world be like if 75 percent of our world leaders, our presidents, and prime ministers, were female? What would that world be like? We don’t know because we haven’t given it a shot. We’re too busy telling them what they can and can’t do with their bodies. Or, we’re too busy, you know, not allowing them to make the same amount of money that a man makes.”
John Legend: “All men should be feminists. If men care about women’s rights, the world will be a better place. We are better off when women are empowered — it leads to a better society.”
Daniel Craig: “Women are responsible for two-thirds of the work done worldwide, yet earn only 10 percent of the total income and own one percent of the property… So, are we equals? Until the answer is yes, we must never stop asking.”
Annie Lennox: “Why are we not valuing the word ‘feminism’ when there is so much work to be done in terms of empowerment and emancipation of women everywhere?”
A.P.J. Kalam: “First, we must get 33 percent reservation for women in Parliament. Then you can become the President,” he said. “If women get into the Assembly, they would bring some order. We can also hope to see developmental politics instead of political politics if more women enter the scene.”
Chanda Kochar: “I chose to be a working wife and mother. Why should I compromise on either?”
Emma Watson: “The more I have spoken about feminism, the more I have realised that fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating. “If there is one thing I know for certain, it is that this has to stop. For the record, feminism, by definition, is the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes.: “I feel one should come up with a basic ABCD video on feminism. If you are not a feminist you are a bad human being. Being a feminist means asking for equality.”
Kamala Bhasin: Do Not Be Afraid of Feminism, Join It… “I find it totally amazing that most middle-class men have heard about bra burning feminists, while they seem to have missed hearing about the relentless struggles of feminists in South Asia against dowry, deaths, female feticide or rape.”
Photos and videos from the internet.
#FeministAtFifty #KmalaBhasin #KalkiKoechlin #ChandaKochar #EmmaWatson #AnnieLennox #APJKalam #DanielCraig #JohnLegend #PharrellWilliams #Beyonce #HelenMirren #FeministAreRabid #HairyLesbians #DoesFeministDestroyFamilies #ArgumentAboutFeminism
Businesswoman, curator of handlooms, poet, writer, and erstwhile doctor. Payal Talreja practices everything except her involuntary ‘profession’. She claims that words chose her and are now her weapon of choice because an activist born will stay silent for no man. A wanderer, a voyager, she’s happy to slum it or luxuriate in any life experience. She crafts poems and fiercely feminist essays and will assume her ‘Chandi’ avatar to ‘write’ any wrong.