What Feminism Really Is

Feminisn

Yesterday I read this report about a new social networking site called State which is designed around the idea of opinion sharing. But unlike Facebook or Twitter, State requires you to choose a “topic” before you can “state” your opinion. I found this idea interesting and hence created an account right away.

As I started exploring the site I came across the topic of Feminism. But as I read the opinions that various users had posted (or “stated”), I started feeling disturbed. The Snapshot section on the right bar depressed me more: the top two words that commenters had used to describe feminism were “destructive” and “sexist”.

Following are two comments which are more or less representative of the discussion:

Being a woman in 2014 is piss easy, you get everything handed to you.
Equal rights were reached years ago, now the feminist goal is female supremacy.

blaming an entire gender for you problems is not about equality

The first comment is a proof of ethnocentrism that dictates many of the discussions about feminism (or any other topic for that matter) and second comment shows that people do not understand what feminism really is. Feminism’s goal is not female supremacy; the goal is to end women’s exploitation so that they can enjoy basic human rights like liberty and equality (Is that too much to ask for?).

Feminism does not say women should be treated better than men. Feminism does not consider men its enemy. Feminism does not fight against men: it fights against patriarchy. There is a difference. Patriarchy is an evil system and both men and women are complicit in its perpetuation — consciously or unconsciously. Feminism’s goal is to end this system of exploitation and control. But it does not want to achieve this by shooting the perpetrators or sending them to jail (we are not Maoists). It aims to change the mindset of people by showing why patriarchy is an unjust system and how it harms both women and men.

Contrary to what the first commenter says, being a woman in 2014 is NOT easy. Women still get raped. They still get beaten by their husbands. Their agency is controlled in myriad ways on a daily basis.

Feminism is misunderstood by many. It is an egalitarian ideology and not a supremacist one. The victory of feminism will benefit both the sexes equally. Men and women have to live together on this planet earth. Both are interdependent. Better life for one means better life for the other too.

10 thoughts on “What Feminism Really Is

  1. Hadn’t yet even heard of that new social networking site@ State..Now I’m very eager to check it out; especially the feminism opinions..Btw I couldn’t agree more with your viewpoint

  2. Hello, Tejas.

    You’re right when you define the term Feminism in what it is “supposed” to be. You’re absolutely right. But, trust me, the most vocal of supporters are those who look for arguments. I’m not a chauvinist, really am not. I’m somewhere in the middle of the spectrum between the vocals and the weirdos.

    The first comment you highlighted is the weirdo. Life for females aren’t easy. Not here, not anywhere. But to use the crutch of Feminism unfairly is seen very often these days. I don’t know if you would agree or not but I can see it after scratching the surface a little. A movie, a sitcom, an advert, it’s there. An unfair projection of the male chauvinism with the annihilation of the erstwhile chivalry. Anythign can be fought off now. I held the arm of a girlfriend while crossing the busy cross road of Breach Candy and she says (after crossing it, mind you) that she didn’t need my help. I was just being good and caring. It’s just like calling a girl after dropping her at a bus stop to ask if she reached home safely. First, it was care and chivalry.

    Now it’s male snobbery/ chauvinism!

    • Fayesal, I think initially every girl who is rebelling and trying to find herself beyond the definitions piled up on her, tends to react aggressively and may confuse a chivalrous action and a patronizing action initially. She is discovering the philosophy for herself.

      The extremism of feminism is silly, but try to view it more as a “reaction” to patriarchy. The feminist philosophy has evolved into a calmer one, taking note that even men suffer patriarchy in subtle ways. Their emotional side is suppressed to make them more brutish. They are burdened, according to me, with “inherent privilege”.

      What you did was sweet but forgive the poor girl for snapping at you. She is trying to figure out what she can accept and what she cannot. In the process, she may burn and break. That’s how it works. She’ll understand, like I do today, that “All men are not like that.”

      Aamil gave a beautiful answer to a comment on my old blog post (http://tameshewolf.wordpress.com/2013/03/23/radical-of-today/).
      The comment was “But some of the screechier/extreme Feminists are just Female Chauvinist Piglets..”

      And Aamil replied, ” Some. And I don’t talk about them at all. Neither should you.
      A gardener doesn’t abandon his life’s work because of a few weeds. He just takes them out.”😀

    • Dear Fayesal,

      The important thing to note here is that feminism is not the reason why she rebuked you. But feminism is the reason why she COULD rebuke you. Had it not been for the relentless efforts of people trying to bridge the yawning gap between men and women, she wouldn’t have had the guts to open her mouth and say that or else you would have just thrashed her there and told her to hold her tongue. Not particularly you, but any man with the patriarchal mindset that feminism seeks to abolish.

      Coming back to her rejection of your chivalry, understand this – she has every right to reject your offer to help. Whether you like it or not. Yes it might sound surprising, but she has the right to hurt your feelings by refusing your help, for whatever reason. You have every right to complain about it, but you can’t force your help on the girl. This is what used to happen in the good ‘ol chivalrous days when men used to do women sweeping favors and women-folk were ‘supposed’ to accept them. This created a sort of quasi-distinction between them even without them knowing or realizing it.

      Now, I don’t know what exactly happened there and what exactly she said, and I’m trying to guess, so forgive me if I’m wrong.

      There could be many reasons why your friend said that ‘she didn’t need your help’:

      1. She could be the type that aren’t comfortable with physical intimacy (yes yes, holding hands isn’t really being intimate, but isn’t that what we’re taught in this narrow-minded patriarchal society of ours?) with anyone of the opposite gender. But, she didn’t want to say that it was inappropriate for you to hold her hand like that, so she opted instead to assert her independence.

      2. If this is the first time you did it, it could be that she was genuinely surprised by your action and blurted out something in that state. Which she might’ve felt sorry for later on (or not), but couldn’t retract.

      3. She thought you were trying to get frisky with her and this was her way of showing that she wasn’t interested (in a polite manner).

      4. She’s a grown up and doesn’t need to be mollycoddled. She’s had enough of that from her parents to tolerate the same from you.

      5. She had a fight with her boyfriend and took it out on you.

      6. She had a fight with her girlfriend and took it out on you.

      7. She was just generally in a bad mood and you happened to cross her path (no pun intended).

      These are just off the top of my head. So you see Fayesal, there could be many reasons why she said what she said. Now, I know you are a gentleman (I can vouch for that) and that you were hurt that your little act of chivalry could be blown out of proportion like that, but that is how people are! Some times, you might get the weirdest reactions from people and you’ll be stumped why they’re acting that way. That’s just the way it is. People are unpredictable and that is what is so good and bad about them. That is what makes us human.

      I would say that this has got nothing to do with feminism. It is just about her mood.

      Love,
      Aamil

  3. The problem is that people wrongly interpret the term ‘Feminism’ and blabber around that we women want to usurp power. Asking to be atleast treated equally seems like an unachievable dream..
    I appreciate that you wrote on this topic Tejas. You stated clearly what feminism is lessening the misunderstanding…🙂

    @Siddiqui, what you did was chivalrous, you gentleman. But your girlfriend might’ve hit back to you coz she must’ve thought that you, like so many guys, out there think she can’t do simple things properly (its quite insulting to be looked down at)..

    • Hi,

      Prachi, It’s sad that all guys are painted by the same strokes of the same brush dipped in pseudo intellect bandwagon.

      Imagine how insulting it would be for a guy to be pointed out as a chauvinist when all he tried to do was hold hands so that they could safely cross the road?

      The point i’m making is that there is a dual role. I’m the last one to deny that chauvinism doesn’t exist. I’ve seen it all. But todays educated masses should make it a point to separate the Men from the riff-raff. Clearly, if something pisses off women, there are things that piss of guys as well. I for one would be hurt beyond comprehension if a girl calls out and says that i’m against her empowerment!!!

      And, there will always be friction if the two sides don’t have an understanding.

      The thing is to treat Feminism as a path towards a goal and NOT the goal in itself.

  4. @Siddiqui – I completely agree with your views. Yes, its horrible to be insulted for trying to do something with a good heart. ..
    But that’s what people do; they stereotype. Catch hold of one thing they do and generalize; one guy looks down on a woman, then all men do. Even though there are few souls who don’t..
    Its the same thing for women when they drive.

    And yes, the friction will remain.. but maybe its not always bad…

  5. Well worded, echoed and personalized😀

    Feminism is probably one of the most misunderstood ideology there is. Patriarchy and misogyny maybe even more. But what disturbs me the most is that women have often carried forward the patriarchy flag themselves and have been pulverized by the same. Society’s perception of feminism,is sadly stuck to bra burning and voting rights. Feminism may or may not have progressed, but our society has definitely regressed.

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