F101: The need for the “F” word

Yesterday was the “International Day of the girl child”, and the very need to have a day like this gives us a hint of the level of our gender inequality problem. And still I see people misinterpreting feminism, asking questions if it is really needed. So here I’m writing F101 — your first lesson to understanding Feminism.

I feel privileged to be born in a family where my education was treated as the most important thing. That I was encouraged to play sports instead of learning how to make tea. I feel privileged that at the age of 24, the only thing my parents want me to be concerned about is working hard towards a good career. If you don’t see a problem with the above statements, then boss, we have a problem here.

The right to education, the right to not follow the stereotypical norms of a gender, the right to a career, to choose when to marry, whom to marry or not marry at all — should not feel like privileges. Not to women, not to men, not to any human being. This is why WE need Feminism. Yes you read it right! WE and not just women.

My grandmother was educated only till 5th standard as her parents felt it was more important for her to help her mother at home. My grandfather didn’t allow his daughters to be engineers because he was worried that they won’t be safe. I never faced these problems, but I was told not to step out late alone and frankly I’m afraid to do so. I was told not to wear certain clothes and I would be lying if I say I myself don’t police my clothing at times. Thanks to the feminists before my generation, I didn’t face the problems my mom and grandmom faced. And I feel obligated to support the feminist movement so that the coming generation doesn’t face the problems that I do.

I have seen my brother been told “don’t start crying like a girl”. I have heard my 7 year old cousin asking why most of her birthday gifts are pink, while those of her twin brother’ are colorful. I have seen men being called “pussy” for showing emotion and women been looked down upon for not knowing how to cook. I have seen a woman’s character being decided by the length of her clothing and a man’s by his bank balance.

The above are just the tip of the iceberg of problems that we as individuals of this society face everyday and I’m sure each one you reading this post has similar stories to add. The solution to these problems is gender equality and the feminist movement is the tool to get them fixed. The feminist movement is about creating a world with equal rights and equal opportunities for all genders.

Would you still ask me if feminism is needed?

PS: This post is first in line of a series explaining feminism, its need and how we as individuals can do tiny bits to help solve the gender inequality problem. So if you enjoyed reading, do hit that little green heart and stay tuned for the next post.