Some random person recently said, “I am not a feminist. I just want equality. Don’t call me a feminist”. Words are really powerful. The thoughts induced by some words never leave your mind and stay there like the lice on a stray mongrel’s fur. They itch until they leave an everlasting mark on you; you are either scarred for life or the mark forms a beautiful tattoo. Ever since I heard those words, I have been thinking of all the previous instances; something similar was spoken around me and all those thoughts are in this prodigious heavy bundle in my head that I’m looking to drop on a bunch of other heads. Hence, I write.
“What is Feminism?”, I ask myself. “Is it a political ideology that a few existing left-wing ideologies have adopted as a small part of a wider thought? Is it the concept of women fighting for equal rights? Is it the feeling of struggle to the surface to gasp in oxygen after spending countless excruciating years pushed underwater where your screams fill you up with cold water and still go unheard? Is it the war cry of the oppressed opposing their oppressors?”
“No”, I conclude. “It is an insult. An abuse. A profane malediction. An expletive”.
One of the most progressive people I have ever met in real life uttered those words and it would be an extreme understatement to say that I was utterly shocked and taken aback to witness such an event. The way he said it made it even worse, for he had this apologetic look on his face to have been rightly interpreted as a feminist. Why? Is Feminist that bad an expletive? For someone who regularly writes his thoughts on how men and masculinity have dominated their feminine counterparts, to be called a Feminist should’ve brought about a smile to his face, if not a look of proud elation. Why apologise?
In Cinema, the way an object is lighted makes all the difference. Throw a villainous shade on someone who dares to bring about a change and lo, you have yourself a baddie. Isn’t this what happened to every revolution in the past? From Che “Guevera to the Naxalbari, from Saddam Hussein to Thanthai Periyar and from Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar to Malcolm X, every one of them were or are portrayed as villains. (In case you don’t realise the necessity of feminism yet, just check the above list for the number of women involved with those revolutions)
Feminism being villainized is not new. We slut-shame bold women to the point where they sacrifice their boldness for a place in this society. Inclusion, the first weapon against the oppressed. We once used to scorn at the very sight of a woman with her head held high until a man spake, “நிமிர்ந்த நன்னடை நேர்கொண்ட பார்வையும் …”. We still scoff at the sight of a girl smiling at more than one boy and are as naive as to quickly assume every smile to have romantic undertones.
A woman who frankly expresses her thoughts is perceived as arrogant and are shunned only for us to later pass lewd comments on the glands and muscles of a random passerby for a heartily heartless laugh. Humiliation, another one in the oppressor’s arsenal.
Whenever women complain about the voluminous acts of violence against their sorority, the “Meninists” always revert back with statistics of Suicide Rates and Heart Ailments being widespread among men more than women, thereby contributing to the lopsidedness of the Life Expectancy graph between the genders. Who is to blame for that? Men suffer long work hours and return home to their “nagging” wives only to find their household crippled due to financial impediments and constantly live under debt due to the consumerist world around. It is of no surprise that the marriage eventually fails.
Why are men forced to suffer this fate? The answer to this is fairly simple. We live in a constant fear of the the society not accepting us as one of their own and its members talking behind our backs.
We give in to society’s claims of “a perfectly functional family” having a male head on whose salary, the family runs. The wife generally is expected to be a homemaker, a fairly recent term included into our lexicon as an euphemism to a blatantly offending “housewife”.
If at all the wife works, she should either be a teacher or a nurse. Only in very rare cases do the women follow a different profession but on one major condition, her pay should not exceed her master’s.
I have personally seen and heard about marriages failing due to jealous in-laws unable to digest their son’s wife being the primary source of bread for the family.
“Destructive Feminism” or “Feminazism” as it is called on the internet just doesn’t exist. Then again, idiots do exist. These idiots are the ones you see on TV and social media, saying and posting absolutely nonsensical strings of words under the title of Feminism. (Just like this article, you may say.) These idiots are the ones that are commonly mistaken to be feminazis. On second thought, to call them “idiots” is not fair, for they are just a bunch of over-enthusiastic individuals with a tad too far-fetched ideas and overwhelmingly exaggerated claims. It may also be possible that these are mere spotlight-seekers.
Thanthai Periyar once said, “Snatch away the utensils and give her a book. That will be enough.”
A recently released trailer of Kaala, a movie by Pa. Ranjith, ends with the words, “Kattravai, Pattravai” a tamil translation of Babasaheb’s words, “Educate, Agitate and Organise”. Babasaheb’s words are in this particular order as he was a staunch believer in Education as a tool for the downtrodden to raise up. Hence, reservations are given. The basic question though, still remains; how are people supposed to educate themselves and their family if they don’t have sufficient awareness about the importance of said education? Feminism is one such way of getting the idea to reach the ears of the intended target audience. I hereby plead to all those who don’t agree with Feminism to not impair it by christening it destructive. I here revert back to an earlier statement of mine- all revolutions are initially called “destructive acts of terror” only to be accepted with time.
Feminists strive for a land of equal opportunities, a one that could be largely beneficial to men too. To be derided as destructive and hate-mongers are not something any sane person, let alone a feminist deserves. Feminists on the other hand need to be clear about their demands, needless to say.
If you strive for gender-equality, you are a feminist. Stop apologizing and come to the front-line, for enough is enough and it is high time we bring about a paradigm shift.
A Fellow Feminist.