Why I duck at the term ‘feminism’

I do believe in the social, economic and political equality of the sexes, but I also believe women are different from men. And although true equality will change many things, perhaps for the better — a world without female privileges is a difficult one for me to imagine.

I scowl at men who occupy seats designated for women on trains, I recommend companies that allow work hour flexibility and maternity benefits for women employees, I can also choose to quit my job any day and still be taken care of because my sex and marital status socially sanctions that choice. The same choice may not be so easily available to my husband.

If my fight is for equality, on what grounds do I seek these privileges? Also, aren’t these privileges inherently sexist, offered to me for my special status? Where is the equality in that?

If feminism is a response to sexism, then too we may be off the mark, especially with what feminism has come to represent today. What we so eagerly consume and propagate as feminism is largely media manufactured. It is the new branding strategy to create trends that assuage the urban, English-educated women population, who have decided that to express feminism they should be up in arms against men. Feminist memes that do the rounds on social media, project women as rebellious and dissenting with a ‘my way or the highway’ attitude. I find this image of feminism disappointing. Not only does it draw from the age old stereotypes about women being impulsive and illogical, it also endorses a strange combination of narcissism and blokeishness — with women fiercely guarding the feminine identity on one hand, and wanting to act/be like men on the other.

It just does not sit right.

Women are not like men and they shouldn’t care to be. They should acknowledge and nurture what’s different about them, instead of trying to prove that they are just as good and better. There are women on a quiet journey of self-emancipation. They have to make difficult choices in pursuit of their goals, and have shown admirable perseverance and dedication. I wish all women find such a personal goal in their discovery of the feminine.

The problem is not of one gender versus another, but the innate need in humans to wield power, which translates into several –isms. If women are at the forefront of another such –ism, I wish they talk more about qualities like compassion, creativity and connectedness, which have always had a secondary status in our society. I wish they wield power with wisdom and grace.