Current Events, Social Responsibility

To be, or not to be a feminist

What if, on this women’s day, the women around you decide to take a break from what they have been doing? Would your world still be the same?

Greece-the very origin of art, poetry, and philosophy, was also home to some of the most rational thinkers who had ever walked the face of the earth. However, the country, which is also the birthplace of democracy, granted its female citizens the right to vote only in 1952! That’s like giving your daughter a candy bar before telling her that she can’t have it. Move a bit to the east, and the good ladies of Switzerland (home to one of the most progressive communities in the world and arguably, the finest chocolate) were granted their voting rights only in 1971. Surprisingly enough, a country that was reduced to poverty and illiteracy after being subjugated to 200 years of colonial oppression, declared in 1950 that women and men were indeed equal before the law.

You read it right. But even when law declared men and women equal, did our society do the same? No, a resounding and glaring ‘no’. Move forward 77 years to patriarchy and, in what seems to be a case of unfortunate irony, the 21st-century Indian woman is still stared upon, preyed upon and needless to say, enjoys only a fraction of the freedom her western counterparts do.

What society thinks gender equality is

“Dude, are you a feminist?”, “She is just one of those pesky new-age feminists” are all responses that people who champion gender equality always almost come across on a daily basis. It has turned into a public attitude, or even a fad, to shame someone for advocating feminism. Feminism is often misinterpreted as a threat to men’s very existence. It even extends to where self-proclaimed feminists and those against their idea of feminism are, on a daily basis, at war on social media. Although there are no different kinds of feminism, they’re misinterpreted in a million different ways.

While feminism is supporting ‘equal rights’ for men and women, a lot of people confuse feminism with misandry, when there are miles of difference between them. Let’s dig in to see why feminism finds fewer fans than patriarchy.

First off, decades of patriarchal social conditioning can lead even an educated man or woman to oppose feminism. What they don’t understand is, by opposing feminism or gender equality, they’re unconsciously becoming the bearers of patriarchy. It is quite important for activists to educate men and women that feminism is just about women getting the same treatment as men.When it fails to interpret feminism correctly, the word is unnecessarily dragged to win sexist arguments and often end up in men bashing women and women bashing men.

gender inequality
How to do it wrong.                                                                Image: The Chronicle

An individual becomes a feminist when he or she protests the evident gender inequality that is masquerading as a largely accepted social culture. The real culprit here is patriarchy but, we already know it, don’t we? Patriarchy is so entrenched in us that when a woman raises her voice against the patriarchal system, she is often labeled as over spoken or aggressive, and sometimes dealt with cheap stunts like ‘slut shaming’ for breaking away from the socially-accepted saas-bahu.

What feminism a.k.a gender equality actually is

Women are not demanding exclusive freeways or sunsets in the morning. It’s only equal treatment and NOT special treatment. When you show double standards to your daughter and your son, you’re doing it wrong. When you ask your working wife to quit her job, you’re doing it wrong.

Feminism is when your daughter has the choice to marry or not, it is when your daughter enjoys the same freedom as your son, it is when your wife has the choice to work or not.

Feminism, or maybe any concept of gender equality and women empowerment is about women having the choice to follow their heart. It’s not just about the freedom to vote or the freedom to roam, but also the freedom to choose her own life. Without having to ask.

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