Today, we had a group discussion in my civil service coaching class concerning female empowerment. This was a topic of great interest to me as I am biologically female and would probably continue to be so for the rest of my life.
It is during discussions like these when you see the ugly faces of the people you study with. People show their inner prejudices clearly (albeit unconsciously) when it comes to discussing woman rights, racial discrimination and religion. So from the second the topic left our sir’s lips, I had prepared myself for some bullshit or the other. And rightly so, because nearing the end an otherwise obliging ‘brother’ decided to belt out some ‘facts’ that would mean that female empowerment was actually happening, and in his words, had happened ‘enough’. A fact that would have otherwise made me happy, but for him only referencing certain regions and certain nations while leaving the majority untouched.
Heck, he even brought in American politics and how a woman was going to lead the nation. I was itching to point out that the election could still go either way, and it was more a proof of misogyny than empowerment. They have a lady well accomplished and knowledgeable in Politics pitted against a man-child whose only assets are his money and gender, and the people are still considering him superior. That’s not female empowerment. That’s a gross reminder that no matter how smart a woman may be, she’ll still be considered by many as inferior to anything with a penis.
But what literally tested my patience, was his expression when I admitted that I’m a feminist. “Ath ninne kandalum parayum” (Yeah you look exactly like one- in a very condescending tone, mind you) As far as I know, there are no visible physical differences between a human and a human who is also a feminist. This isn’t some ‘spot the difference’ nursery game.
The fact that feminism is considered an offensive term by itself is a proof that the world society itself is biased. A movement that had been coined for the sake of equal rights has had its meaning twisted into something which completely negates its original purpose. Yes, I am a feminist. But no, I’m not a man hater. I believe that women must break out of their shells, and be able to stand as individuals. Not a mother, sister or wife- but a fully functioning individual with her own emotions and aspirations. I believe that the wage gap should be abolished, not just on paper but in real life as well. I believe that women are capable of contributing equally to the society. I believe that a woman should be free to do whatever she wants whenever she wants, as long as it is not hurtful to another individual.
THAT is why I am a feminist. And that is exactly why I cringe every time I hear people say they are ‘against’ feminism. How can any self-respecting human be against giving freedom to a gender that constitutes about half of the world population? If you are such a person, I respect your right to have a different opinion to mine, but I do not respect your opinion.
As long as female foeticide still exists in this world, I am a feminist. As long as young girls get raped for no fault of their own, I am a feminist. As long as people excuse rapists’ behaviour by citing the victim’s clothing, I am a feminist.As long as boys are brought up adhering to the societal construct of hyper masculinity, I am a feminist.
Because whenever I hear people say “we don’t need feminism anymore” I think about the many dowry deaths haunting our country. I think about the child brides. I think about the uneducated women restrained to their households. I think about little boys who grow up thinking they can’t cry. I think about men treating themselves as animals that can’t control their own behaviour just because a woman shows some skin. I think about male abuse victims being afraid to come out because men are supposed to be ‘strong’.
There are regions in this world where people are murdered for believing in feminism. So I can surely accept the burden of a few mocking glares.