Feminism calls for equality. Equality for all genders (inclusive of men) in the social, political, and economic sphere. However, being called a “Feminist” is not even a compliment in today’s world. I’d say Feminism might even be the new ‘F-word’. Before reading on with this article, I want you to question yourself. What do you think Feminism is?
A reason why this ideology has gained a bad reputation is because of the common misconception that feminists hates men, they don’t. Ever heard of the term misandrist or misandry? Misandry means hatred towards men and a misandrist is like a misogynist, but against men.
While some self-declared feminists have been projecting misandrist behaviours, feminism itself, by no means, aims to spread that idea. Feminism advocates treating all genders at the same platform with equivalent respect.
It is important to acknowledge the privilege of a white heterosexual male in this order to understand the activism around feminism. The woman’s suffrage was granted with the 19th amendment in the 1920s but it is the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s in history that made a mark through the fight against racial discrimination.
Hence, the fight of a white man is different from a man of color, but they are both different than the fight of a woman of color. Therefore, when one advocates for equal rights or social upliftment for any gender, they are not a misandrist, but simply an activist.
As a brown woman talking about equality, let me also introduce my readers to the term ‘intersectionality’-social categorizations of race, class, and gender (or more) overlapping to form an identity. Because, how can you fight for equality when you’re claiming a specific group to be superior over the other?
The goal of feminism is not to discriminate against men or take away opportunities from them. Feminism might seem to increase competition in these opportunities, but it is a fair competition. One that should result from weighing the competencies rather than the social stigmas around the gender.
If two men are competing for a position of power, it is a competition. This competition between a man and a woman is still a contest between bodies of comparable competencies. But how come, according to Fortune, only 24 out of 500 CEO positions are held by women in a world where 52 percent of the population is female?
The unequal privileges are undeniable. However, feminism, by no means avoids the topic of social constructs around masculinity. It is practised by not creating these constructs of femininity or masculinity in your day to day environments.
Women who claim their superiority over men are not voicing feminism. A lot of times women overstep the boundary between fighting for equal access to power versus fighting to overpower. The goal of feminism is simply to be treated equally in society, be able to own and access the same social, political, and economic resources, and to allow every individual to speak for themselves. Feminism, at its core, opposes the concept of distributing power based on gender.
Many times, feminists have been criticized for upholding equality for their convenience. For example, wanting equal opportunities and yet expecting men to provide for them. Equality is not ‘allowed’; it is practised.
This type of feminism, as per Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, is feminism LITE. “It’s like he is driving but you are in the front seat,” said Adichie in her popular TED talk. “Being a feminist is like being pregnant. You either are or you are not,” she further asserted.
Being raised in a patriarchal society, we are conditioned to overlook aggressions caused by gender. Women are often expected to react in a passive way to catcalling, or a patronizing situation in order to avoid ‘commotion.’ Many women my age face unsolicited sexual behaviour like receiving sexually implicit photo’s on social media when (FYI) consent is not asserted.
Everyday conversations are also a hassle because women are expected to draw a boundary when men are “testing waters.” The other day, one of my heterosexual guy friends panicked over another a guy sending him text messages consistently in a seemingly “flirtatious” manner.
He was worried that the boy was interested in him. I asked him to simply confront it the way he expects girls to do. Apparently, it didn’t make sense to him. “Now I understand what you girls go through,” he said.
Feminism is a battle of finding an equal place for all of the genders, but this battle doesn’t have to have any losing party. Feminism is a win-win, uplifting all the genders, even men, as a constant fight against standards promoting hypermasculinity.