A concept that saw the light of dawn in the 19th century, feminism over the years has been painted with various shades and hues. It goes without saying that any movement that seeks to spread the message of equality qualifies as adhering to the tenets of human ethics. Feminism is one such beautiful idea, but its purity wanes when it is misinterpreted.
Sadly the very mention of feminism evokes a scare among some men
The true essence of a noble cause is lost when misconceptions spread their roots. When we talk about feminism, we need to understand that it is not a mission to sideline the men. It’s all about giving women those entitlements that have been denied to them.
Very often, we have heard this from people who say it in a rather derogatory tone: “Oh she is a die-hard feminist!” Where does the problem lie if someone works for the privileges that rightfully belong to her? Society needs to get out of this mindset that a feminist is always that obstinate, hot-headed woman, screaming her lungs out to tell men they are inferior.
The idea is all about being on the same ground, and no man needs to feel insecure when someone is a feminist. Nor should he be ashamed to call himself one because he is endorsing a fair ideology.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a feminist rockstar, is synonymous with women’s rights. The former US Supreme Court justice strongly believed that it was important to dismantle patriarchy not just to liberate women but to enable all people to live peacefully, regardless of gender.
Ginsburg’s fairness was exemplary because she focused not just on winning rights for women but also on establishing equal rights for both genders. The news that created headlines in the 1970’s was the case of Charles Moritz which Ginsburg fought. Moritz, who was responsible for taking care of his elderly mother, was denied a caregiving tax deduction on the grounds that he was an unmarried man. Ginsburg represented him and showed to the male judges that sex discrimination affected both men and women.
The stereotyping needs to stop from both sides
There is so much truth in this quote by American film writer and director Marti Noxon: “The problem with generalizations and judgments, the words we hurl as insults, is that they deny our humanity and our stories.”
Something that has been on the rise in recent times is men being constantly depicted in an unfavorable light in many digital shows. Just as we take offense when a woman is type-casted as sharp tongued, manipulative, and conniving (more so in the saas-bahu serials), it is equally unfair to always present a negative image of men. Not all men are sexual predators, sexists, and misogynists.
Just recently, I came across a tweet by actor and supermodel Dipannita Sharma. She voiced: “If we have to constantly portray all men in poor light to drive our point of feminism home, then I think the very essence of feminism is lost.” This is an extremely fair, intelligent, and balanced viewpoint from someone who is very passionate about women’s rights.
Yes, we cannot ignore that there is prejudice against women. Had there been no discrimination, we would not have had something like mansplaining nor instances where women’s expertise is silenced. But we cannot generalize and club all men in the same category. Feminism does not mean that women are at a liberty to bash men at every opportunity possible.
As much as we have men who consider themselves superior, we also have others who are supportive and respectful of women. Otherwise, there wouldn’t have emerged a feminist like Arunachalam Muruganantham who took an initiative to empower women by thinking about an issue like feminine hygiene. Nor would we have heard the story of K Onier Kom, the husband of Olympic boxer Mary Kom who stood by her every step of the way in her journey.
It’s all about teamwork and respect for each other
Men can play a very important role as agents of change and strengthen feminist efforts. There are many who believe in gender equality, and it is their responsibility to influence other men to think similarly.
Everything needs to start at the grassroots level, so let’s first practice equality in our own families by having respect for each other. It’s the dignity of labor that reigns supreme, and both partners have their share in making the house a home by doing their parts.
Also let no man make a big deal raving about what a brilliant job he had done “babysitting” his child while his wife was away for a girls’ night out. Attention: parenting is a joint venture, and Daddy needs to be equally responsible as Mommy!
If both spouses earn reasonably well, the responsibility of managing the family expenditures should be a shared one too. The husband is not the only one responsible; by no means is it a man’s job alone. If feminism stands for equal rights, the part about shared responsibility cannot be shirked either!
In the end, it needs to be understood that feminism is not about putting women against men. It is not a battle of the sexes but a fight against prejudice where the goal is to reach a point at which women are on par with men on both micro and macro levels.
(This article was featured in Women’s Web )