One of the most misunderstood words in the English language is “Feminism”. The common perception is – feminists are those men-hating bra-burning types.Those who dislike women who dress well or wear high-heels, or, for that matter, even shave their legs. Many people seem to prefer to not to be associated with the F word.And that’s unfortunate, because Feminism is about equality.
A recent example is that of Kellyanne Conway at CPAC who distanced herself from the term days that it is ” difficult for me to call myself a feminist in the classic sense because it seems to be very anti-male and it certainly is very pro-abortion, in this context.” Similarly, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a well-known Nigerian novelist, says in her famous TED talk, that the first time she was called a feminist, it wasn’t meant as a compliment and she didn’t take it as one either.
Though I have known to have feminist views at times, I haven’t really identified myself as a feminist. Lately, in pursuit of answering the question, ” am I a feminist?” , I have been trying to define Feminism a little more clearly in my head. Is it really as extreme as it is perceived to be? This is what I have come up with till now.
A feminist is someone who believes in equality: equal rights for both men and women. This includes equal respect, equal pay for equal work, and equal importance of voice. A feminist believes in equal opportunity: a shot at an education for every child, the option to pursue a career of interest, the chance for everyone to live the type of life they want and need.
A feminist believes a woman has the right over her own body: she is not the property of anyone else. She supports choice: that women and men should be given the choice of how to live and of sexual preferences. She believes that if a man can do ballet and still be a man, then a woman can be a firefighter, a surgeon, an astronaut or a mine worker and still be a woman. She believes girls are just as precious as boys.
So far so good. Most of my thoughts and views coincide with this definition of a feminist. What about you? Let’s explore a little further.
A feminist is one who lives by the axiom, “Live and Let Live, but fight for your rights”. She stands up and fights for her own rights, as well as the rights of those oppressed. She does not keep quiet when she is the privileged one: when the problem is not her own. She wonders if she doesn’t stand up for herself and her sisters who will? The men? Yes, that is a possibility. I have consciously used ‘she’ till now. But a man could be a feminist too. There were a large number of men who were part of the Women’s March on Washington, they were feminists. Lately, I have encountered views and actions of a number of sensible men, who believe women need to be treated as equals. Years ago, I visited an acquaintance’s house where on a daily basis the wife cooked while the husband did the dishes and fed the baby. One online blogger recently mentioned that he believed more men should actively write about women’s issues: that together we would able to shout louder and get our voices heard. That’s a feminist
Getting back to introspection, I love to talk about rights and equality, blog about it, tweet about it. But there is a deeper issue here: walking the talk. It takes more strength to implement what we believe in our daily lives, to believe we are just as important and to break the barriers which are instilled within us as well as around us.
Yes, I am a feminist – because, as Twinkle Khanna pointed out rather succinctly, that anyone who denies being a feminist is an idiot. Why? Because feminism is about equality.
It’s really that simple.
by Namratha Varadharajan
Namratha is a digital marketer in the making. Other than her love for the written word and her kids, she enjoys Italian food, dancing and gardening. Explore more of her writings at www.namysaysso.com