Feminism v/s Pseudo-Feminism

“I felt like it was time to set up my future, so I set a goal. My goal was independence” said the singer/ actor/ popular culture icon, known simply by her first name, Beyonce. She does not hesitate to embrace the feminist label. She has especially shined a light on women’s power: The power to perform in a male-dominated music industry; the power to acquire fame and fortune; the power to delight in one’s beauty and sexuality; the power to cross over into mainstream media while championing a “girl power” anthem. Yet when women like Beyoncé proudly proclaim feminism, they tend to invite more debates than affirmation.

WHO IS A FEMINIST?

A feminist is a person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of all the sexes.

In this patriarchal society, feminism is nothing but a range of movements and ideologies that share a common goal: to define, establish, and achieve equal political, economic, cultural, personal, and social rights for women. This includes seeking to establish equal opportunities for women in education and employment.

Feminism is not misandry, which is hatred toward men or women wanting power over men in society. These are two terms that I believe have been widely confused by men and women. Society sees “feminism” as a dirty word that was created by angry women, which has no real value.It takes courage and progressive thought to be a feminist in a grossly male-dominated world. I At least because it takes very little to say that you’re a feminist. The truth is that even most women have no clue what feminism really means, but that’s not entirely their fault, considering that feminism is an abstract and obscure set of beliefs and theories, which cannot really be defined accurately. There is no definite or seminal doctrine that can define the concept of feminism sufficiently.

What irks me is the number of people who reduce feminism to blindly agree to everything a woman says or continually reinforcing a woman’s belief in her ability to do ‘anything a man can do’. I also find it horrendous that rape and sexual molestation become inherently welded with feminism. I know, by now, most of you feminists have probably unsheathed your swords and want my head on a spike, but I pray you hear me out. Rape is not an issue that should be related to feminism. It’s an insult to humanity and to us all, not just to women. It’s shameful and disgusting that beings with a conscience can act in such deadly ways. Feminism has nothing to do with it. If a woman is raped, it should be deep, dark blot on the soul of every human being on the planet, not just women.

‘Woman empowerment’ is another term thrown around like plastic wrappers in India. Let me clarify — reducing the cut-off percentage for girls in DU colleges isn’t empowering anyone except those already empowered; true empowerment would come around only when every girl in the remotest village of this country goes to school without once thinking that she’s lucky to be able to do so. I don’t see why a woman should need a lower percentage to qualify anyway. Education should always be a level playing field. Opportunities should always be the same but what people do with those opportunities should be up to them. If a woman goes to Harvard and decides to be a housewife, that’s her choice and not a squandered education. And the same should be true for a man.

Bill Maher, the comedian pointed out, in one of his stand-ups, that if someone said men were smarter than women, there would be a chorus of disagreeable challenge; however, if one said that women were smarter than men, everyone would cheer almost reflexively because that’s just how society is. We’re selectively moral. We pick and choose the values and morals and ethics we’d like to follow as per our own convenience. That's not how feminism or pseudo-feminism works.

However, in the same string of thought, I wouldn’t be wrong to say that women are much more emotionally equipped than men. Generations after generations of mothers, wives and daughters have handled entire families single-handedly. Any man would go crazy if he managed the affairs of his own household for half a day.So we have to understand that women and men are definitely different biologically but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t equal. Equality is in opportunity and respect. Opportunity and respect should be the same for every human being. Woman or man, everyone must never be different in these two cornerstones of life. Women should be allowed to join the army. A man should share the burden of a household and look after his children, even stay at home full-time if need be. And women should be paid just as much as men. But that’s the thing. These pseudo-feminists don’t really want equality. They want to establish a new world order governed by women and women alone. A woman could literally get away with anything by ending her sentence with ‘because Feminism’. No, you do not deserve an added portion of respect just because you happened to be born a girl. You deserve the same amount of respect as any other human being. Whatever respect you get after that depends on how you earn it. Don’t tell me I’m supposed to know how to talk to ‘ladies’ because I don’t. I know how to talk to human beings and I’m sorry if that’s not enough for you, but that’s my idea of equality.

Feminism’s goal is to create a society where men are taught that expressing their feelings does not make them less of a man and where women are taught that they are strong too. It wants a society where men are no longer taught that “crying is for girls” so that they can actually communicate their feelings and problems and have more successful relationships with women throughout their lives. It wants a society where men aren’t expected to to always be the moneymaker of a family and women are able to provide for themselves without expecting a man’s support. Feminism wants a society where a woman is seen as an individual before she is seen as a sexual being or a baby maker and where a man and woman can be seen equally as parents and treated fairly in parental or custodial issues.

Feminism is basically about creating a world of equality, free of prejudice, judgment, or hatred between the sexes. Now to come to the people who truly do understand feminism, at least intuitively: these are men and women who would never overtly say as much. They would never go around parading their feminist badges like it’s the single greatest achievement of their lives. These are men who love their mothers and wives, fathers who put their daughters before their work and teach their sons that it’s not sissy to cry. These are women who can handle their jobs, or take on the responsibility of their households or manage to do both. They don’t need a feminist tag to get by. They can wait in line for their turn and can offer their seat in the bus to an old man, if needed. They are the women who can stand up to society and openly fight for justice against their rapists, knowing that their small acts of heroism have given hope to thousands of women who have been vilified by society for being raped. They are men who stayed with their wives and supported them even after some devil of a man had raped them. These are feminists in the true sense of the word.

So the next time you throw that word around unthinkingly, ask yourself, are you even worthy of using that term?

Think again!
Susmita Saha
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