‘Arey, you will always have a problem, Feminist jo ho, he he he’, laughed one of my colleagues as I raised my point during a meeting. And his comment was accompanied by laughter by some of the men and unfortunately, some women in that meeting room.
I have realised men have been using the term ‘feminist’ for their own jokes, or to point out the women who, according to them, have a problem with everything. It is a shame that not a lot of people actually understand what feminism means.
Some, more statements are: ‘Ye aaj ka nayaa fashion chala hai, jisey dekho apne aap ko feminist bolta hai.’ ‘All these women want that men should not even say a word, feminism k naam par har cheez offensive maan leti hain’ and a lot more offensive statements are always there.
A man having a strong view point in office is a leader, while a woman with strong opinions is considered hard to get along with. Men find it difficult to work under her because, ‘Madam toh smile hi nahi karti’. Seriously, what does that even mean.
We decided to talk to women from different walks of life to understand what exactly feminism means to them and how do they define a feminist.
Aesha is a prolific blogger, a mother, helps managing a newspaper for students and is a stay at home mom too, she is a work from home mom as well and whatever you want to call her. She is doing it all flawlessly
What does feminism mean to you?
Feminism for me is not asking for special favours because I am a woman. For me Men & Women are equal. Anything that a man can do , can be done by women with equal efficiency and vice versa.
Are you a feminist?
Yes , Staunch & Proud feminist
Why do you think the world needs feminism?
I think the world is changing. There is a shift in a perspective on how men perceive their female counterparts at work and at home and vice versa. Though I don’t see very substantial or significant changes yet in perspective but at least in the urban set up is becoming more open to equality between men & women. Also I feel that the millennial generation thinks differently.
So it’s a right time we initiate this dialogue with our children, sensitize them & capitalise on the change in the world and bring about a larger change which helps in gender equality . Aesha Shah, Editor Aesha’s Musings
Are you aware of the term ‘Feminazi’? What is your take on it?
Yes I am aware of the word but anything that is radical in thought should not be promoted is what my sense is pertaining to Feminazis.
What message would you like to convey to all women reading this article?
My message to women is simple, ‘ Just be yourself ‘ and it’s ok to put yourself before others and it does not make you selfish.
My message to women is the lesson I learnt the hard way. I realised unless I do not respect myself and do not think about my happiness my efforts will never be acknowledged. So I put myself first. I decide my priorities in life and act accordingly.
Janhavi is a working woman, a mother, wife, daughter, friend, writer, blogger, and a trainer. In short she is a multi tasker trying to fit in and do as many things as possible. She is the founder and Editor of Entirely Indian.
1. What is feminism:
For me, it is not about complex and difficult definition but about small and sensitive aspects of a woman’s existence.
If a woman spends her money the way she wants – its feminism. If a woman decides to stay at home in-spite of her higher education and yet she is not judged – its feminism. If a woman decides to keep her maiden name after marriage because she has worked hard to achieve that identity – its feminism. It’s also when a woman decides to change her name after marriage because it’s her choice and her way of showing respect for her husband – its feminism. When there are no stereotypes about what a woman and a man is expected to do in a marriage – its feminism. When a woman or a man is not judged for the choices they make – its feminism.
2. Are you a feminist?
3. Why do you think the world needs feminism?
Whether we call it as feminism or woman empowerment or freedom of choice or independence or equality – feminism has always been there. From the day when Savitribai Phule started the first school for girls till today when numerous activists and social workers are working for the fundamental rights of the women, it has always been there. Or we wouldn’t have come the long way we have. And it’s going to be there no matter what. And it quite clear that the world definitely needs it.
4. Are you aware of the word “Feminazi?” What is your take on it?
Yes I am. There are always distractors who give labels to things and concepts which they don’t understand or don’t want to discuss. I think Faminazi is a similar label which came out of the mind of very creative distractor.
5. What message would you like to convey to all women reading this article.
Stay true to yourself and your character. So if that means if you want to press your husband’s legs because you love him and he is not well and he values your feelings, be it. You are still a feminist. Do not have stereotypes.
6. What is the one lesson that you have learnt that has changed your life.
A woman is always a lioness – confident, self-sufficient, fighter and fiercely loyal towards her family. But she doesn’t have to always roar to prove it. Just her stride should be enough to have the desired effect.
Kanika G, a physicist by training and a mother of two girls, started writing to entertain her older daughter with stories, thus opening the flood gates on a suppressed passion. Today she has written over 36 children’s stories and loads of short stories. She also blogs on various parenting and feminist issues.
- What does feminism mean to you?
Feminism is a philosophy that promotes bridging gaps with sections of people that society has historically oppressed. It hopes to do so through using the principle of equity rather than equality so that everyone can realistically avail of opportunities provided by modern laws and democracy. It also strives to root out deep set bigotry that is so ingrained in our ways of life through the ages, that even the most progressive of us fail to notice these prejudices unless we carefully think about them. Feminism encourages us to reevaluate age old practices in the light of modern technology and social structure and eliminate those practices that discriminate against or disadvantage people based on gender, sexual preferences, caste and other such characterizations that one is born into.
2. Are you a feminist?
Yes, in that I firmly believe in feminism as per my understanding of it in the above definition and I do try to live up to that definition as best I can, but I am only human and I have plenty of flaws and failings and that applies to my efforts towards being a feminist too.
3. Why do you think the world needs feminism?
For far too long, far too many cultures have been dominated by patriarchy. Whatever the cause of the emergence of patriarchy, it has degenerated over the centuries in to a cancer which is currently holding back human progress by squashing the potential of many oppressed sections of society.
With the progress of medicine and technology we lengthened and added value to human life, and to make the most of these efforts every human being needs to be given the opportunity to make the most of their life and contribute productively to society.
When we are so closely connected, unless we can respect each other, peaceful co-existence will become impossible and result in war and destruction.
4. Are you aware of the term ‘Feminazi’? What is your take on it?
Are there people who misinterpret any good cause and become unreasonable, radical and stupid about it? Of course there are, and there are undoubtedly a few who do the same with feminism.
But in my opinion, the term feminazi is rarely limited to these few cases. It is used liberally in an attempt to discredit the feminist movement through ridicule using vague anecdotal references and creation of stereotypes of hysterical women so any protest or indignation by women can be so classified.
5. What message would you like to convey to all women reading this article?
Think about everything you do, why you do it, and how you came to think a certain way. Regularly evaluate your actions, choices and beliefs in the light of your experiences and learn something new about yourself everyday. Knowing yourself and being open to new ideas will help you overcome the under-confidence a patriarchal society has tried to drill in to you.
6. One lesson you have learnt that has changed your life?
Society repeatedly teaches women to be under-confident through many little subtle incidents from the moment they are born. It also relentlessly reminds women to be apologetic and assume blame and experience guilt. For example crass language usually demeans only women. In English if you want to insult a man you call him a ‘son of a bitch’ or a ‘bastard’, still squarely placing the blame on a woman (his mother in this case).
It is hard to fight such social conditioning or sometimes even notice it exists. One may have been brought up in a progressive family and may feel immune, but that is not true. Patriarchy snakes it’s way in to our lives from various places sometimes simply in the form of jokes or casual remarks or well meant advise causing us to doubt ourselves, feel shame, or simply feel unsafe. Today, I try, and still often fail to fight the conditioning which in my case is quite subtle. But making a conscious effort to remember the existence of this conditioning not only helps me work on my confidence but also understand other women better.
Feminism, to me, is living in a world that is same for all. A world, a social set up that works for all – men, women, and all. No bias whatsoever, no prejudice whatsoever.
Swati Shrivastav, Founder and Editor, Miss Zesty