Are we really Feminists?
Feminism is the new sign of intellect these days. It’s the new word to wear on your sleeves to proclaim your open mindedness. If only these sleeves weren’t pink, I would have been less cynical. Confused? Let me explain through an example. Scene 1- Aunt: I can’t wait to get my daughter married. I will be so relieved once that responsibility is over, and she has someone to protect her. Mother: She’s just 18. We are in the 21st century. I will make sure my daughter gets good education and gets a good job before I get her married. Scene 2- Son: Maa, can you buy this pink lunch box for me? Mother: “You like pink? Pink is for girls. Why don’t we get you the blue one?” Daughter: Haha! Why don’t we get him a Barbie doll for his birthday? Son: Just go play with your kitchen set! (Mother smiles and ignores the bickering) If the two scenes were mutually exclusive and the mothers were different people, then yes, all those who nodded approvingly at the mother in the first scene are justified. But sadly, it’s one person. Welcome to pseudo feminism. There are three inferences I wish to make here. 1. There is a thin line between feminism and pseudo feminism; that thin line is called selective application. 2. Genes may be biologically transmitted, but perceptions are socially imbibed and it starts young. 3. Sexists cannot be feminists, and vice versa. Feminism isn’t about celebrating pink; it is about removing the stereotypes surrounding pink. It entails a society which doesn’t dictate whether a girl should like Barbie dolls or GI Joes’. It isn’t just about acknowledging successful women; it’s about not labelling a girl with a cropped hair cut as lesbian. It isn’t about imagining a life outside the kitchen for a woman; it’s about not making her play with bride-groom figurines while her brother plays with guns.
We all fall prey to these everyday gender norms and roles, through our language and actions (consciously or unconsciously), irrespective of our tall claims of being feminist. Let’s do a quick test? Have you ever said any of the following? 1. It’s hurting like a bitch. 2. She must be PMS-ing. 3. Don’t cry! Be a man. 4. He looks so gay, look at the way he walks. Do you still think you are a FEMINIST? If yes, think again! Feminism isn’t about pro-women, anti-men! It is about breaking the rules, and moving towards an egalitarian society where a woman can do what she wants to do, without being judged, where she can walk without being objectified and leered at by men; where a man doesn’t need to be prove his masculinity by being the breadwinner of the family. Feminism is manifold, and it’s time to embrace it in its entirety and not just the tip of the iceberg in order to look cool in this apparently liberal, free thinking world. It’s time to let children choose which toy or colour they want, because the choices we make for them go a long way in deciding the choices they make later on. It’s time to watch our words, and our actions.
—————– ABOUT THE AUTHOR- This article is contributed by Nivedita Kasturirangan, our intern. Nivedita is a Journalism student from Mount Carmel College, Bangalore. She writes to make sense of the hundred thoughts fluttering in her head, and hopes to make sense to readers in the process and make a living out of it. If she had to describe herself in three words, she would say ‘Work-in-progress’.