Age-Old Question—What is Feminism?
It has been an age old question that- What is Feminism? And What Does it Mean to be a Feminist? To some, it may mean earning the same amount of money as male counterparts; for all women to have access to birth control and abortion; to be able to walk down the street without being harassed or cat-called. It may hold different meanings for different women, and that is okay. We are a sisterhood scattered across this planet, weathered under diverse circumstances. But we are a sisterhood that has always been oppressed by a system with deep-rooted patriarchy in both personal and professional aspects of life. We need to accept our individual differences and stand in solidarity to empower ourselves, and to reach equality– that is feminism. Feminism has always been looked at as a cause without a cause; without a clear goal. It makes it easier for a patriarchal system that disadvantages women to deem feminism as whining instead of addressing real issues. This leads society to perceive feminism as a mere complaint by a handful of radical, crazy females, which in turn stigmatizes the “feminist” label. This has resulted in many different groups of women with separate interpretations of feminism who are pitted against each other, fighting over what is more important. The conditioning at hand develops attitudes among women that perpetuate woman-on-woman hate. Women denounce one another for the choices they make, for calling or not calling themselves feminists. If women don’t support and respect one another, regardless of geographic location or cultural background, we will never be able to achieve strength that will allow us to topple what oppresses us.
Support the sister who chooses to be a stay-at-home mother, or chooses to work outside her home and not to bear children. Support the sister who chooses to have consensual premarital sex, or chooses to dress in a way you are unaccustomed to. Support yourself, and your right to choose. Feminism is not about denouncing other women and dictating their choices. By judging one another we are holding each other to standards set by the same society that has prevented us from reaching equality.
We are just as human as men are, and deserve just as many choices when it comes to how we live our lives. We at least deserve to grant each other and ourselves those choices, if governments and institutions refuse to. Every one of us can be a feminist if we are able to see that feminism lies in solidarity. ———— About the Author: This article has been contributed by Amrita Chopra, our intern. Amrita is a journalism student at Humber College, Toronto, Canada. She is a first generation Canadian woman, who is very connected to both her ethnic roots and solidarity towards all women. She is a firm believer of our cause and wishes to contribute her bit to the same.