What have we done to feminism

No, this isn’t going to be another bombastic rhetoric that shames people who don’t wish to identify themselves as feminists. Wait! Don’t get me wrong. I’m a staunch feminist and in an ideal world, I would expect this from all men and women. But I understand why the twenty-first century incarnation of the feminist movement is driving even the believers of gender equality away from taking up the feminist tag.

I have been unfortunate enough to witness various forms of patriarchy and sexism. It’s pretty disappointing to know that being born a certain way makes me more vulnerable to infanticide, harassment and abuse, curtails my academic dreams, puts a cap on my progress professionally and poses as a threat to my safety. The battle to overcome these has been emotionally taxing and arduous. That’s why I need more men to participate. It’s because they need to actively contribute to bring about a change. But I sense the disinclination in their tone when I bring up this subject. Their instinctive response is to look away. Quite disheartening, I must say. But I will play the blame game fairly. They aren’t the only ones who are at fault. The counterproductive behavior of feminazis can be blamed for the negative connotation feminism has sadly taken up.

Before we can begin speaking about the limited participation of men, let’s acknowledge that even some women dislike the feminist tag.The internet is filled with articles written by women who support the idea of feminism but not the movement. We are shying away from using this F word more than the one that’s a cuss. Honestly, how did we even get here?

Personally, one of my biggest problems with the new, revolutionized wave of feminism is the attention it devotes to the smaller problems while sidestepping the bigger issues and making them secondary. Not shaving your body hair to prove yourself as a feminist isn’t as important as decriminalizing abortions. Normalizing the practice of manspreading isn’t half as important as promoting education for girl children. Disassociating the link between the color pink and women isn’t quarter as important as teaching your little brother the significance of feminism. Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for the dismissal of even the smaller stereotypes but not at the cost of putting them first.

Don’t begin the feminism rant because someone addressed a group of people as “guys” (and not “girls and guys”). Don’t accuse a guy of being a chauvinist because he offered to carry a heavy suitcase for you. These things are very off-putting; so much so that they drive your point farthest from home. And there’s a good chance that these people had no chauvinistic intentions. I quite dislike how kneejerk the responses can be while determining whether or not something was caused by sexism. The ultra-sensitivity with which every statement is scrutinized to determine its misogyny quotient is definitely doing more harm than good to the movement.

Speaking about things that are wrong with feminism, let’s also acknowledge the fact that it is all about choice. I can choose to wear skimpy clothes or I could choose to wear a hijab. I could be into casual sex or I could wait till marriage to consummate my relationship. I could share the household chores with my husband or choose to cook for him. I can become an engineer or I could become a theatre artist. Choosing the latter in these cases doesn’t make me any less of a feminist.

Lastly, I need to mention that critiquing feminism doesn’t mean that I don’t believe in the movement. While accepting the ideologies, I just want to point out the room it has for improvement. Let’s start somewhere. Let’s scotch the ‘believer-of-gender-equality-but-not-a-feminist’ tag because it’s one and the same. Of course, I want everyone to believe in gender equality. Before that, I want the ones who already believe in gender equality to identify themselves as feminists. But to make that happen, it needs some re-branding. One main objective of the feminist movement is to augment more participation. Let’s focus on that goal collectively.

In the words of Emma Watson, “ I am inviting you to step forward, to be seen to speak up, to be the ‘he’ for ‘she’. And to ask yourself if not me, who? If not now, when?”