Feminism. A word that stands for unity and equality but is often addressed with conflict and controversy. I am a Feminist. I believe every human being should be a feminist. It makes no sense to me why Feminism is seen as a system of belief that one can choose to either believe in or not. Feminism is not a belief, it’s a way of life. One needs to accept it as a basic necessity next to food, water and shelter because Feminism means Equality.
Equality is not something that one can just decide not to believe in. Equality is not like Religion where you can be a Believer or an Atheist, Equality is the basic right of every human being and no one can take it away from you. When a person says that they are not a feminist, this person is implying that “I am a human being who does not believe in making other human beings feel human”. If that sentence did not make any sense to you then worry not because such people who say they are not feminists actually don’t make any sense.
I don’t intend on attacking any group of the society and their opinions because I truly believe in respecting every individual and what they have to say, but it saddens me when I do not get the same treatment that I offer because my opinions and suggestions are coming from me, a girl. Despite living in the 21st century, an era of progressive thinkers and enlightened teenagers who know what they are doing and don’t need their parents to nag them all the time, I have felt the deep routed haunting remains of Patriarchy that once crept in our society. Of course, not in a very obvious in – your- face manner but rather in such subtlety that makes it even harder to recognize it. Microaggressions-These are even more dangerous than upfront misogyny because they hide behind the apparent humour and jest with which they are vocalised. Microaggressions are the comments which are spoken with supposed light hearted intentions but have serious and offensive implications. Ask any girl in the world if she has faced these and the answer is unfortunately positive.
I really don’t have any solutions to this problem. I don’t know what is it that I can do to stop this. I try to call it out whenever I see it or experience it but is that enough? Why is it that Feminism and its objectives are considered only a responsibility of women? Why is it that it is only the job of women to strengthen our status in society and ask for all the rights that we already deserve? Why do we girls constantly have to take the burden of coming up with solutions to the problem of gender disparity?
Feminism sure is about uplifting women but I think that lifting something from top is much easier than pushing something from bottom. Does that make any sense? What I’m trying to say here is that we seriously cannot think of coming on par with men unless we involve them or rather unless they involve themselves in this journey.
I think that it will be easier to involve men in this journey towards absolute equality, if we understand that even though they are major influencers of Patriarchy, they too are victims of it. Toxic Masculinity. Yes, that’s the unsaid disease that most men are inflicted with. They are supposed to be bold, domineering, bossy, self-assured, in control of emotions and women. Why? Because Patriarchy meant oppression of women and to oppress women, they had to become the oppressors. Hence, the characteristics of an oppressor were a necessity for them to feel like a man and be accepted as one in the society as well.
Sensitivity, gentleness, sentimentality, delicateness……be honest, didn’t these words make you think I was going to talk about Femininity? That’s how stereo typed we have inevitably become. Men who depict the aforementioned qualities are regarded as girly, weak, not man enough. Men are not supposed to cry. “Stop crying like a girl” is what they are told as children when their basic instinct of shedding a tear makes them look ‘weak’ and ‘frail’.
Well, this is not the case only with guys. This happens among us girls too. Putting on makeup, dressing up, doing your hair, painting your nails, purchasing beauty essentials, wearing pink and so on, makes a girl ‘too girly’. Wearing baggy clothes, having total disregard for makeup, dejecting the concept of beautifying yourself and pretending not to care how others perceive you makes a girl a ‘tomboy’. Tomboys are supposed to have manly traits hence the word ‘boy’. I’ll be honest, I was a ‘tomboy’ for a brief period in my life. The period where I rejected to associate myself with anything ‘girly’ and I felt proud in saying that I am a tomboy. I thought that to feel like an empowered female, I had to behave like a man, sit like a man, talk like a man. I can’t tell you how ashamed I feel for having thought that because instead of taking pride in my femininity, I considered it to be my weakness. I love watching romantic comedies, I cry at the smallest of things, I am sensitive and emotional but I tried my level best to hide these traits as I thought I would seem weak. Somewhere I feel that I associated these traits with girliness and I associated girliness with weakness.
This too is an example of sexism. I was sexist. There, I admit it. I am sorry, well I should be apologizing to myself…. sorry Suhani, for making you feel that to be a strong girl, you had to be manly. No one needs to be something they are not. Besides, this categorisation of both genders on the basis of the degree of femininity is absolutely absurd.
Being feminine or girly or simply just being a girl means accepting yourself and embracing your womanhood. A girl could like wearing makeup or wearing baggy clothes, she could like playing the cello or playing soccer, none of this, however, gives anyone the right to classify her as a girly girl or a manly girl. She is simply, a girl.
Similarly, a man’s degree of ‘supposed manliness’ does not define his strength or lack of it thereof. I think it takes great strength to show your weakness, hence, a man who can cry is probably stronger than all the muscular gym junkies out there.
Every individual has a masculine and feminine side to them. When we learn to accept both and be proud of both, equally, is when we can think of ending the sexism in our society. Relieving ourselves from the expectations of fitting the box that is unknowingly created for every gender is of paramount importance as only then could there exist absolute equality.