Feminism means different things to different people. But one things for sure, there are way too many myths. Have you been told feminism is anti men? That wearing pink does not make you a feminist? That feminism is militant? All of this makes it difficult for people to understand that feminism is about men and women being equal. Different, but equal. Here then, is some myth busting about feminism and why feminism is not a dirty word.

Feminism is only for women

This is not true. When we fight for feminism we do not just liberate women; we also liberate men and other genders by breaking down stereotypes put in place for both by the society.

Men who are emphatic and concerned about the state of women can be feminists too.

Men can be feminists too

Feminists address challenges like domestic violence, rape and sexual assaults, unequal pay, sexual objectification, etc. Why should these be only a female concern? Men who are emphatic and concerned about the state of women can be feminists too. Men can be called feminists who teach young boys to respect girls, gender sensitise their male colleagues/employees, share the housework chores and are involved in raising their kids etc.

SOME TAKEAWAYS:

  • We cannot take the western view of feminism as our truth because the needs of women who live in India are not similar to western countries. We have to have our version of feminism. 
  • For women in India the needs are conditioned by factors such as familial, societal/racial, marital, economic, and cultural and individual awareness.
  • ‘Feminism’ means an intense awareness of men and women being equal. 
  • Feminists address challenges like domestic violence, rape and sexual assaults, unequal pay, sexual objectification, etc. Why should these be only a female concern?

Feminism as a concept has come from the West

Who can forget Imran Khan, Prime Minister of Pakistan’s infamous statement where he said the West’s conception of feminism has degraded the role of mothers. It’s not very different than what is believed in India. But we forget that there were feminists in India who were fighting for causes that mattered to Indian women way back in history and it is not a Western concept.

Also Read: Why Feminism Must Enter our Kitchens

Feminists are man-haters

One of the first and foremost fears in the minds of men is that feminists hate men. But in reality feminism is a movement that fights equality for women in political, economic, cultural, personal and social spheres. This ideology does not champion ‘hate’.

If religions can bring women-friendly interpretations into religious teachings and rituals, feminism, will not be in contradiction to religion.

Religion and Feminism don’t align

Some religions do have patriarchal perspectives and impose age-old discriminative practices against women; it does not mean that one needs to give up their concept of ‘God’ and religion. Take for example the fight for allowing women of menstruating age to enter Sabarimala temple in Kerala. If religions can bring women-friendly interpretations into religious teachings and rituals, feminism, will not be in contradiction to religion.

Feminism has not progressed over ages

Consider this, during the Colonial rule there was a campaign to abolish ‘Sati’ system. Where wives were burned alive on their husband’s pyre and now we are fighting the cause of marital rape! If this is not progress then what is?

Marriage as an institution is not accepted by feminists

No, this is not true. Most feminists are married. What feminists are against is when society considers marriage as the only institution that ‘good’ women live in, and punishing those who are not married or divorced. If a marriage is treated as a way to control women, then for sure a feminist will raise her voice.

You love wearing the highest of heels and shortest of dresses please go ahead. But no one can demand a woman be dressed in a certain way. Dressing should be a choice not an obligation.

Feminism in India Feminist Conference

Make up, bras, vanity is anti-feminist

This belief is laughable. Bra-burning and donning a no-make-up look has been used as a metaphor for giving women choices and not limiting them of self-expression. You love wearing the highest of heels and shortest of dresses please go ahead. But no one can demand a woman be dressed in a certain way. Dressing should be a choice not an obligation.

Women are equal to men, so no need of feminism  

This cannot be further than the truth. Women in the 1970’s demanded: Equal pay, equal opportunity to education and work, guarantee of their reproductive rights, and an end to violence or sexual coercion regardless of marital status. Have we solved these issues? No, we are still fighting. So, we need feminist whether women or men to make this a equal world for both sexes.

Wearing Pink is anti feminist

Being feminine and being feminist are two different things and they may or may intersect depending on the person. Hence it’s very important to recognise that women who were pink are less feminist than those who wear black or for that matter, whether any colour is associated with feminism.

Picture Credit: Feminism, Picture by IStockPhoto

Smita Singh is an editor with the SheThePeople.TV team

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