A few months ago I wrote a brief albeit detailed article on what it meant to be a feminist in the present age because I think there are some common misconceptions about feminism that everyone needs to know about. Hours after clutching my heart and hitting the publish button, I received numerous messages, unsurprisingly from girls, congratulating me on having the courage to speak up on a topic that is seen as a taboo in India.
While I was receiving all the positive messages, an old friend, a man, decided to message me. Upon opening the message I was shocked to read what this 24-year old, well-educated man had to say about feminism.
The message accused me of being angry at men although, the article quite clearly discussed how we need to see men as our allies in the struggle for equality and justice. The message told me to not talk about feminism further as that would result in me losing followers because no body wanted a girl ranting about equal rights. After all, a girl is required to be sweet, warm and be ever ready to nod in the affirmative for the man she is trying to hold a debate with. When I replied back telling him thank you, but no thank you for the unsolicited advice, the reply came apologising and accusing his previous girlfriend of portraying a cynical image of feminists in front of him.
It’s been two months since this little incident, but its stayed with me, because it shocks me how well-educated people choose to follow the path of ignorance. It shocks me how ready we are to blame others for our own short-comings.
Over the past few years, the term has gone through massive changes in India and we are still struggling for the people to truly understand what it is. Here are some misconceptions about feminism that you should consider.
1 Feminists do Not Walk around Being Angry at Men and No, We do Not Hate Men
On a number of occasions, I have been accused of championing feminism because I hate men, or am angry at the men in my life, or probably because I’m lesbian. In fact, one of the biggest misconceptions about feminism is that feminists are lesbians. It is funny how readily people think wanting equal rights boils down to the women hating the men. Surprise, surprise, we do not hate men. On the contrary, I’m quite attracted to them. Wanting equal rights for men and women does not make us hate the other gender, it only means we recognise the problems in our society.
2 Feminism is Not Just for Those in the Western Society
Developing countries, the countries termed poor, require it equally. It is not a boutique issue but one of fundamentals that has a major impact on the efficiency of our economies.
Research has proven that having women on corporate teams increases the efficiency and hence the productivity and output of the teams. When we cut women out of the major decisions, it impacts our societies, our economies and our nation. We only exercise the minds of half our population. The other half is quieted, even while there is a good chance they would bring good ideas to the table. Are we really that blinded by our egos and societal conditioning of gender roles that we are ready to stand in our own way of progress and bring only half the populations’ ideas out? Feminism is a universal thing. It does not see colour or one’s geography. We might speak different languages, but there is the language of discrimination that unites us. So the next time you tell a feminist that it is an issue for the Western society to correct, please think again.
3 Women Are Being Accepted in the Work Force Now
We hold offices but the glass ceiling is still existent. Yes, there is still a need to talk about equal rights because no, we are not there yet. Every time I begin to talk about feminism at social gatherings, I am rebuked saying that times have changed and there is no need to still be talking about equal rights because what more do women want? Well here’s the thing. Statistics prove that although women hold offices at the junior level and are employed on the service side of the industry, they are still struggling with holding a place on the board. A woman sitting on a board of directors is still seen as an exception and more often than not, she is either called masculine or her marriage is scrutinised because well, a woman who puts her career first can not have a happy marriage. We will stop talking about feminism the day all these little stereotypes with high negative influence are abolished, and that day we would have truly won something worth celebrating as a society.
4 Feminism is Not a Woman’s Issue
Men can be and are feminists, and no, that does not make them traitors to their own gender. The struggle for equal rights for both men and women has the very premise of love and acceptance at it’s heart. We are here to break through the gender roles that try to put us into neat, little boxes and we will only be able to achieve equality if we come together and recognise the problems. There is this widespread misconception about feminism solely focusing on women and therefore, making it a women’s issue. Feminism is about equal rights for both men and women. Historically, women have had it difficult. We have always had to walk the extra mile to prove our worth outside the walls of domesticity. However, men do not have it easy either. Men have been taught that masculinity means masking one’s emotions, that they have to be the bread-winners of the household and that to be a true man they have to protect their women. Well, this might have made sense back in the age but now it sounds like utter gibberish. We are working towards a society that should make men and women feel safe and equal. Equality has various perspectives and the perspective of being able to show your emotions without feeling shameful is one of them. The issue of what is termed masculine and what is not is outdated and we need to crush it. So the next time somebody tells you feminism is meant just for women, please educate them. Feminism is a people’s issue.
There we have it, four simple points to break the misconceptions feminism is facing today. The issue of gender inequality is going to take all our effort and time but the moment we come together as a society, we have won half the battle. So educate yourselves and do not be afraid to discuss the topic because the more we discuss it, the less taboo it is, and the more welcoming we would become. Good luck.
Please rate this article