Some words are crystal clear. Rape, violence, abuse are some words that have it ‘easy’ as compared to their counterparts. They are definite. They are an entity within themselves. They convey without hesitation and haunt without restriction. Then comes a stark contrast in words that by a meager glance would seem absolute but dwell deep within and you are caught, off guard, in a an ocean of contempt, hatred, power but at its basic a word misplaced.
Feminism, like most new, badly ‘translated’ words is under fire. It pops up every now and then on our facebook/twitter/tumblr feeds and every time it does it leaves a sour aftertaste and often a raging disgust. Unlike assault, murder, or rape this word [feminism], which at its very essence is merely an 8 letter word, is a misunderstood cause in today’s world.
So here is my attempt to explain feminism not to convince you or deviously manipulate you, but simply to make you aware of the available choice to choose to be associated with the word. Feminism is a movement. It is a spiritual, physical, virtual movement. A movement or cause that promises equality and respect at all fronts for both men and women. Why do we need feminism? We need feminism because every time a one individual gets paid 77cents and the other makes a dollar, for the same work because of the category society put them in, we take away equality. We need feminism for every time a woman who is sexually assaulted is asked to ‘keep it quite’ or is in turn blamed for the assault while her perpetuator roams the streets free.
Contrary to popular belief feminism doesn’t aim to take power or jobs away from men, we (for I am a proud feminist) are here to enable equal opportunity for women and to share the power with men. Many times people, especially men (go to any article and you’ll see this heinous trend) love to berate the fact that feminists ‘hate’ men.
Why? Because feminist want women to be able to be credible engineers and scientists? Because feminist know that women are as good as men at math? Because women, like men should have the right to choose a career over marriage? Because a woman’s clothing shouldn’t determine her character?
And that compels me to think, as a woman, is loving yourself, equivalent to hating someone else? Why is it that when women stand up for themselves and for their bodies, for their choices they are shamed and bullied for it? Whereas when men do the same they are applauded for it? Feminism wasn’t born out of a figment or illusionary context, it was a seed that was sowed and matured after years of harassment, sexism, discrimination towards women and women being treated as inferior to and by men (and women).
To enable equal opportunity, individuals need to be seen as equal irrespective of gender. And as simple as that concept sounds, we still struggle with it in this 21st century. Everywhere we look, women are the ‘lesser’ beings. Hollywood, Bollywood, engineering, chefs you name it, and this is evident by the fact that every time a woman does well in engineering or computer science or math or is made a CEO, she is such a token commodity that Huffington post and The Guardian make her a symbol of hope and proclaim a rarity that ought to empower other women. This is not to disregard the great work women do or have done in the past, but this is to highlight the fact that a woman doing well is still newsworthy. Yeah, if she discovered the cure to cancer, she will be one in a million but to do well in computer science or math or be made a CEO, you shouldn’t have to be the only one.
Feminism isn’t petty. It has various forms, various definitions, various branches, if you will, as does every movement, and some of which I do not necessarily agree with, and some which I actively defy and that is bound to happen. In a world where so many opinions and experiences exist, perspectives will differ and they must. Differing perspectives lead to better solution but they also lead to misunderstanding, conflict and hate . However, most, if not all schools feminist movements aim to empower women, They sought to give women a choice, a choice to live her life however she wills it. A choice to have sex (gasp!), to not have babies (even bigger gasp!), to wear what she wants but most of all to recognize them first as individuals and then as women and not just as baby making machines.
Women are not an entity. They are no one’s right and they owe ‘society’ anything. They are a whole being not a link and that is what feminism is reminding us.
Feminism aims to ensure equality. That’s it. Not so complicated now, is it?