Guest post by Neha Phadke Sharma
“You can have ambition,
but not too much,
You should aim to be successful,
But not too successful,
Otherwise you will threaten the man”
Sounds the lyrics of the Beyoncé song “Flawless”.
We today, are considered as a progressive society, so to speak. And why shouldn’t we? After all, men “allow” their wives and sisters to work in the corporates today. Men “allow” their wives to go out, be friends with other males, drink and party with them. If women can also go out and party along with the guys, we must have progressed a lot, right? Of course. And just in case, somebody tries to tell us outright that this is not allowed for you (rather than being derisively condescending about it), the Feminists among us unsheathe their daggers, and try to slay everybody in their path! Ooopsies, did I just say a bad word! Feminism has become equal to “female gundagardi” nowadays. Any Tom, Dick or Harry (or should I say Mary, Anne or Lucy) comes forward and raises their voice, to shout out… something. The subject is not important. Shouting is important. Ultimate effect being a good movement gets trolled in the social media for raising hell over nothing. But, is Feminism really bad? What do we really know about it? Let me try to put in my two bits about this subject here.
What is feminism?
The Oxford English Living Dictionary says that ‘Feminism’ is ‘The advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes.’
As a movement Feminism is seeking to create equality for Women in the social, political, economic and occupational circles of the society. This movement was actually required to curb the injustices and intolerant behavior in the society towards Women at large. The society was and still largely is a supporter of such sexist intolerable behavior toward women, just the difference is that this movement has been responsible for avoiding such people to at least do it openly and proudly.
In the above situation and its true definition, I would call myself a thorough Feminist. According to me the only thing that should distinguish men and women is their Biology. Considering it to be plain FEMINISM means women and men are equal. That’s it.
But in practice have we kept it so simple, or rather I would say do our progressive society construe it in its true sense?
The answer to the above question is unfortunately a big ‘NO’
Is feminism = Male bashing?
FEMINISM sometimes has led to a male-bashing or as it is called a Father-hating movement. Some of our co-gender citizens have made it cool to be a feminist without understanding the correct heart of it. Is Feminism about Drinking or Smoking like men do? Isn’t it equally hazardous or enjoyable (as the case may be) for both genders? Does Feminism means be aggressive, even when it’s not required? Does Feminism means openly abusing others as men do? Does it mean not cooking for you family, just to prove a point?
To reiterate the sorry state of affairs, I have heard some of my learned and well-educated friends saying a few ridiculous things. On many occasions, do I hear females explaining to their unmarried friends why marriage is so important, for companionship, security, blah blah blah. I mean, come on, gal! Are you serious? Does a woman necessarily have to find a companion in a husband always? All these thoughts basically stem from a place of being torn between being traditional and being modern, not understanding the true value of oneself. I recently met one of my friends who considers herself a progressive and modern lady, and decided to stay away from her in-laws because they are not broad minded. She had to go through a miscarriage in quite later months of pregnancy around 22nd week. While talking to her and trying to cheer her up, I was taken aback at what she said. She said now I can conceive again, it’s not an issue, but what is more upsetting that it was a boy child fetus, which had to be removed. What could I have said after that?
Bias in feminism
There could be endless examples of what we listen and observe daily.
If I enjoy cooking or doing laundry for my family, or taking care of my in laws, does it mean that I am not a Feminist and I am undermined by patriarchy?
If I chose to work even after having a baby does it mean that I am ruthless and a Feminist?
We need to understand that it’s ultimately about being able to make one’s own choices, be it a man or a Woman. God has given the blessing of having that motherly charm to female gender, because she might be able to take better decisions, look after the family in a better way than men can do. If someone decides to be at home and take care of family does not mean that she is not ambitious enough, or if a man lets his wife go to some outdoor seminar or a meeting and himself stays at home looking after the kids does not mean that he does not have spine.
True essence of feminism
To me FEMINISM is EQUAL RECOGNITION FOR EQUAL EFFORT, and POWER TO MAKE ONE’S OWN CHOICES. I want to choose what I want to do with my life. I want the power to choose, without having hundreds of eyes judging my every move. I want to know that my husband can count on me when he needs me to take a part of financial burden, and that he need not carry on with the entire burden just because he is a man. I want my Mom and Dad to know that whatever education I get would be for my betterment, and not because I need a good husband. I want my neighbouring aunty to stop judging me because I have taken a decision along with my husband to not have kids. I want my paternal uncle to stop calling me names, because I took a decision to leave my kids alone and go on a one-month official trip abroad. Trust me, it was not easy for me.
I need the freedom to make all these choices, and not be instantly labeled something bad by people. I want my manager to recognize my efforts in office, and give respect to my opinions as well as he does my male colleagues. I want people to recognize that I got a promotion because I deserved it, and not because the company is promoting Gender diversity! (Grow up, peeps!). And you know what, most of all, I need other ladies, to stop fighting unnecessarily for silly things (FDPL, for Hell’s sake! How much more pathetic can this get!), and get a grip on reality. Stop asking for reservations for females. Work your way to the top. There’s no way to make this easy for you. You can definitely do it, and the success tastes really good, when it is spiced with your sweat!
So… there you go… That’s Feminism for me. And I’m happy to call myself a proud Feminist! Go Nuts!