Feminism doesn’t approve of men who shame women. But what about women shaming other women? So many women and men who identify as a feminist do not think twice before shaming women who do not fit into the idea of perfection. Wear a burkha or a pallu over your head? Do you observe Karwa Chauth fast? Do you wait till other members of the family finish their dinner before you sit down to eat? These behavioural patterns are enough for many feminists to reject you. But such behaviour goes against the grain of feminism actually.
Feminism is always enmeshed in conflicts and criticisms even though it is the strongest weapon against patriarchy. Some people call it a revolutionary movement to bring gender equality into society. While others deem it as a façade that corrupts the mindsets of the youngsters. Some call it a medium of justice while others claim it worsens the bias and injustice that exist in society. Many people label feminism as a movement that supports women blindly and gives them the freedom to do anything- be it good or bad. But is it true?
Like all movements through history, feminism has been open to societal and individual interpretation. What must remain uncompromised, however, is the bedrock on which it was founded- equality for all.
Perfect women: Let us stop propagating this myth
It is true that many women shame other women for the choices they make. Many women become the living carriers of patriarchy despite the fact that they were also oppressed by it. However, it is worse when policing comes from women or people who identify as feminists. Turns out that there is no escaping from the notion of “perfect women”, although it might be drastically different for those who identify as orthodox and those who think they are progressive or feminist.
While a conservative person might shame a woman for wearing shorts, a so-called feminist might berate a woman for covering her head. An orthodox person might disapprove when a married woman won’t observe a fast for her husband, but when she does exactly that, she might earn the scorn of a feminist. Being career-oriented is looked down upon by the conservative brigade, but then how many feminists have nice things to say about stay-at-home moms or those who put their family above their careers?
Berating women, trying to police their choices, even if it is for appease to ones sense of progressiveness is in fact patriarchal behaviour. It is unbelievable how women who have themselves been subjected to gender inequality and shaming end up becoming guardian of patriarchy, despite thinking that they are trying to smash it. Perhaps we can blame it on lack of empathy or our tendency to take a moral high ground and judge other women instead of supporting them.
Being a feminist, I know the importance of the freedom to choose and not be judged for my choices. Feminism is against every person, irrespective of gender, caste or creed, who frames women in the narrow ideas of ‘perfection’. So if a person truly identifies as a feminist, the first thing they need to do is to stop policing and judging other women. Support them instead. Empower them with confidence by telling them they are “perfect” just the way they are.
Only when one can stop judging women or expecting them to fit into one’s definition of perfection, can a person truly call themselves as feminist.
The views expressed are the author’s own.