Friday, 18 January 2013

What is feminism?

"Feminism encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians."
- Pat Robertson
(Marion Gordon "Pat" Robertson is an American media mogul, executive chairman, and a former Southern Baptist minister, who generally supports conservative Christian ideals).

The word feminism evokes strong, and often, negative reactions. Some women pride themselves in saying they are feminists while some shy away from doing so. Some call themselves feminists but clarify that they do not hate men! Some say they believe in gender equality but they are not feminists.

What exactly is feminism?

Feminist theory aims at achieving gender equality in areas that creates gender imbalance. Feminism believes in equal rights in social, political and economic verticals. Any situation that raises gender or sexuality-based injustice, it becomes a feminist issue. In simple terms, telling a boy ‘not to play with dolls’ or ‘don’t cry like a girl’ is against feminist ideologies. The basic notion of feminism is that men and women are equal. Making any bias based purely on gender, not considering individual capability is termed gender bias.

Feminism is anti-patriarchy. In patriarchy, a male figure is at the authority of social, political or economic vertical. A woman is a man’s (father, brother and son) responsibility. Patriarchy is when women cannot inherit the title and property of family. This makes women lesser than men just because of her gender. Feminism opposes everything that patriarchy preaches. And this is the reason why conservative men and women are anti-feminists.

Only men are not responsible in making a patriarchal family/society. Women are equally responsible. Bringing up daughters to only cook and clean is patriarchy. Providing lesser educational opportunities to daughters is patriarchy. Bringing up daughters to share equal responsibility and sons to respect women is feminism. If a man fights for equal rights, he too is a feminist. If a man brings up his daughter considering her equal to his son, he is following feminist ideologies. 

Feminist movements fight for rights of women and empowering women to help them make informed decisions about their life. They fight for equal rights of women to education, marriage, employment and their own body. Feminists fight for championing causes like gender discrimination, equal pay in workplaces, prevention of marital rape, sexual violence against women, reproductive rights, commodification of women and many such.

Feminism is asking for equality, not hating men! Blame it on media to have maligned the notion of feminism. There is nothing negative about being a feminist. A feminist loves his/her spouse, probably, much more because of the freedom and respect in their marriage. A feminist loves his/her children equally without being partial to sons or daughters.

Where do I stand?
“If women want rights more than they got, why don't they just take them, and not be talking about it.”
Sojourner Truth (A women’s right activist)
I was brought up with feminist ideologies. While growing up, I was told I could reach and achieve whatever I want. My husband and I both have a say in everything that happens in our family. Our daughter is being brought up the same way too. We are all flexible because of the security and freedom that we provide each other. 
I am not a feminism activist; I don’t go out to demand and champion feminist issues. But I know my rights. I try to seek and create gender equality in whatever way I can within my limits.

I found good answers to two most commonly asked questions for any feminism related topics. I leave you with the below.

“Inequality happens to men too.. Patriarchy affects men too..” What wrong with this statement?

Why are you concentrating on topic X when topic Y is so much more important?


  1. I am like "did u really write this?"
    Brilliant :)

    Now I have a crisp definition of feminism. Thanks for this lesson-for-life

  2. Should feminism (or does it already) address equality in responsibility as well? We have two people .. a male and a female who draw the same salary .. but the female works only during the day time and refuses to extend beyond lets say 6pm, even though the nature of the work demands so .. what is this called?
    Don't get me wrong .. but I have seen a fair number of female's not wanting to go the extra mile at work .. but demanding equality when it comes to facilities being availed at work. IBM India is brimming with such characters.

    1. At workplace if a lady demands equal pay then she has no excuse whatsoever to get privileges based purely on her gender!! This is not done and the supervisor should see to it.
      At workplace any individual who does not work on par with his/her peers gets lesser hikes and is not qualified for promotion. That's what makes a fair environment.

  3. Good to know that your view on it. Now the reason I asked such a question is that .. like your article pointed out that feminism is something that has been blown out of proportion by the media .. the pseudo-feminists .. take it upon themselves to raise a hue and cry when some one denies them a leave .. but do not bother about the salary coming into the account while working in the 24x7 support, APAC shift for a US based client. IBM's first line managers are quite literally scared of talking to their female associates for the fear of a case of harassment being leveled against them. And this behavior at times is mistaken for feminism in India.

    1. Managers should go read HR policies clearly. Just FYI, men are equally eligible for applying for harassment.
      Like there are feminists, there are pseudo-feminists too. I understand your anger is on the latter group of people. A really self-sufficient women does not cry foul and give her gender as reason for any such non-sense, she would play her game fair and win her part.

  4. Essential subjective modulations are immanent in post-modernist ideology so its difficult to find any absolute truth about any of the thoughts rooted in it such as feminism in society. The internal tension between concepts is hardly realized, for example equality and fairness are two different concepts. Sometimes inequality is fairer than equality. Freedom not always frees one, it restrains more with its responsibilities and so on. I personally think the 'whole' always brings more clarity and in case of feminism, the most acceptable version of feminism will be what can contribute to a more balanced society; sometimes being equal and sometimes being unequal. If its fair the counterpart cannot complaint without being unfair conspicuously.

    1. Well said Rachana .. Its subjective like I said, depends on women to women. Some are happy with what they have, some wants more. And they ask for it. But mostly feminists champion basic women rights like stop of sexual violence of women in general. Like I already said, feminism is not about hating man-kind in general. Its about some practices that few men and WOMEN follow.