“Sheher mein ladkiyon ko akela nahi rehna chahiye. Ladke reh sakte hain par ladkiyan nahi. Akeli, independent ladkiyan, ladkon ko confuse kar deti hain.” This sarcastic dialogue from the movie Pink is just the teaser of a blockbuster film on patriarchy. Feminism is one of the most misused words in this day and age. People are hesitant to even label themselves as a feminist because of the misapprehension of the word. So, before going forward I have one question to all the men and women out there- are you a feminist? If your answer is yes, then more power to you but if your answer is no, let us try and change that!
Feminism (in simple words) means equality. If today you go on the internet and look for what feminism is, you will find hundreds and thousands of answers to this one simple question. Why? Because feminism means different things to different people. For me, it means being heard when I keep my views in a group of men. For my male friend, it means going to the therapist to talk about his emotional needs. For my mom, it means starting a business at the age of 50, because passion sees no age and gender. But for all of us, feminism means equal rights and opportunities for everyone regardless of their gender. Aap convince ho gye ya main aur bolun? Here is why we need feminism now more than ever -
To get rid of sexist and male dominated traditions
In a country where women like Rani Lakshmibai and Rani Chenamma were born, it's sad to see the state we’re in today. Ever since their childhood, women are considered a burden or a responsibility and it reflects in our festivals and traditions. We celebrate Raksha Bandhan wherein a sister ties a thread on her brother’s wrist so that he can protect her. Someone once said to me “you feminists find a problem with everything. We only protect the ones we love and care about.” To this I asked, “Then why are sisters not asked to protect their brothers, they also love and care about them?” “Arey girls are weaker no, how will she protect a male?” That, right there is the answer. Women are considered weak. This deep-rooted sexism does not end here. Kanya daan, karva chauth, and the purdah system, are all problematic traditions that still prevail in our society and the list goes on.
For men to get the freedom to be emotional and true to their feelings
Feminism is for everyone! Just because it originates from the word “feminine”, people perceive this as a women’s movement, but it is much bigger than that. Being the youngest daughter in my family, I was always pampered and loved and I truly acknowledge my privilege. My brother however, always had a wall around his emotions that restricted him from being vulnerable. We both had to go through the pain of losing a loved one and declining mental health, but while I was able to cry and withdraw from everything, my brother had to man up, hide his emotions and stay strong through it all. This exactly is why men need feminism too. Being emotional is empowering and healthy!
To end the stereotypes based on gender
I recently watched a film with the dialogue, “pyaar se de rhe hain rakh lo, warna thappad maarke bhi de sakte hain.” Yes, because the whole point of a woman’s existence is to do what a male asks her to, or else physical assault is always an option. *cue eye roll* In addition to this, we see deep-rooted sexism in the professional front too. Men are pressurized to be the sole breadwinners of the family while women are expected to take up household chores. This also resonates with the lack of paternity leaves in comparison to maternity leaves because caregiving is a female’s trait. Stereotyping only ignites a flame of patriarchy and sexism that should have died long ago.
To stop slut-shaming of sexual assault victims
Once my friend shared how she was sexually assaulted at the age of 5 and since then she stopped wearing skirts because that might have provoked the man who did the hideous act. We are living in a society where a 5-year-old child has to be aware of the clothes she wears so that a man is not “provoked”. No amount of activism can acknowledge the amount of strength and courage it takes for a sexual assault survivor to speak up. And when they do, they are slut shamed for the clothes they wore, for being “friendly” with the said person and if they were under the influence of alcohol. Till the time women are not blamed for sexual assaults, we will need feminism.
To end discrimination in education and the workplace
“Beta why are you studying so much, in the end you only have to take care of your husband.” Dear aunty and uncle, I wish you had taught your son how to take care of himself so that he wouldn’t need a woman to wash his undies at the age of 35. Now if you are done, I would like to go back to building my future so that I don’t have to take care of my future sasuraal.
Today, we have a significant percentage of female illiteracy in the county because girls are discouraged to study. Child marriages, female feticide and poverty also pay a large role in a girl’s education. The hassles do not end even for the women who have completed their education and are determined to start a career. This is because of the significant pay scale gap, disparities in gender roles and percentage of women in the workforce.
Till the day women and men are granted equal opportunities in households, schools and the workplace, we will still need feminism. This movement is not about one gender having power over others, it is about one person having power over themself.