I’m a feminist – a loud and proud one at that. But I was not always so loud and proud about it. While I was figuring out what feminism is and what all it truly entailed, I got more information about the perception of feminism than it’s actuality. Feminism is considered a ‘controversial’ topic. I’ve heard people refer to it as the ‘F-word’. And somewhere I did believe that being a feminist is controversial and unconventional. However, as I started reading more into it and researching diligently, I realized that feminism is just so empowering and important. Even if many of us don’t think so!
I often wonder, when did feminism go from being this powerful and brave movement where women before us fought for every little right we have now to something controversial. And I think it happened when we started focusing more on the ‘perception’ of the subject rather than the truth of it. And in the thick of all these interpretations of feminism, it became the F-word!
But hey, it’s still an important movement, it is still doing what it set out to do and there are bad feminists just like there are bad people in the world.
So now I’m here all loud and proud, and I want to debunk my most heard anti-feminist statements and prove that they actually don’t make sense to me (or just in general, it doesn’t make sense!)
- This is what real feminism looks like – This is not what feminism is supposed to be.
This is undoubtedly and undeniably the one statement I’ve heard people say the most. Let me just start by quoting Emma Watson here –
“Feminism is not here to dictate to you. It’s not prescriptive, it’s not dogmatic. All we are here to do is give you a choice.”
Feminism stemmed off of the culture where women were not given the freedom of choice to express who they really were, in a society that dictated and policed what ‘real women’ should be like. So, when you make the remark that ‘this is not what a feminist looks like’ when you don’t agree with their stance, you are basically setting us back in time, and proving yet again why feminism is important.
I mean, we don’t tell you – “this is what misogyny looks like”, do we? We agree that there are different types and levels of misogyny that people function on. So why can’t you understand the same about feminism.
There are no rules as to what feminism should actually look like. If you believe in equality of all genders and sexuality, and you believe everyone should get equal opportunities and equal spaces in decision making tables everywhere, I think, that’s all we need. It doesn’t matter if we don’t fit your ideals of ‘feminism’. Sorry, but not really.
- Don’t say it in front of her – she’s a feminist.
I’m going to be direct here. If your only moral compass of being respectful to others is whether or not they are a feminist, I think the problem is you. Just saying. I might be wrong!
I’ve been told many times that they can’t freely make jokes in front of me, because I will lash out or call them out for it, and while that makes me really proud of myself, it’s really sad.
If you think of making a joke, and you know people in the room might get offended, here’s a solution – don’t make the joke, because it’s horrible and I don’t have to listen to the joke to figure it out. If a feminist gets offended by your sexist, and misogynistic remarks, instead of saying ‘I can’t say it in front of you’, maybe reflect on why you can’t say it in front of them.
It’s really not that hard to figure out.
- These feminist types find fault in everything. They make everything so tense.
Okay, I agree. Everything is so tense these days. You can’t make a joke. You can’t make a movie without being critiqued. It’s really difficult. I get it. But guess what, we can’t walk down the street without getting catcalled and harrased, so I think we can all deal with a little compromise here and there.
Feminist find fault in things that have fault in them. Let me list a few things feminists have found fault in:
- Sexist jokes.
- Jokes on sexual assault and domestic violence
- Sexual Assault and Domestic violence
- Slut shaming women for expressing themselves and being opinionated.
- Policing people for what they wear.
- Death threats and sexual assault threats online and offline.
- Any form of entertainment that objectifies, sexualizes and ridicules anyone that is not male, straight and masculine.
- Not getting equal opportunities in workplaces and elsewhere.
- And many more
Call me crazy, but I actually don’t see anything wrong with speaking up against any of the above mentioned points. And if calling these things out is making situations tense for everyone else, all I have to say is – Congratulations, we are doing a good job!
- I don’t believe in feminism – I support equality.
Oh, here’s a classic one. People love saying this, don’t they? I think it’s great that you support equality. And I also think it’s okay if you don’t identify as a feminist. I don’t think everyone has to call themselves a feminist, because that’s what feminism is about – the freedom to make a choice. However, what I have a problem with is people saying they don’t BELIEVE in feminism.
Wether you consider yourself a feminist or not, if you believe in equality, you have to understand and agree with the fact that the reason we are able to enjoy the level of equality we have achieved so far is because of the efforts of all the amazing feminists before us who wrote, screamed and advocated for gender equality. When you say you don’t believe in feminism, you’re basically undermining the efforts of those women who put their lives on risk and dedicated their lives for equal rights while others were enjoying the benefits of patriarchy.
You don’t believe in feminism, not because you support gender equality, but because you were born into a privilege that you are exploiting instead of using it for the betterment of society.
- They act as if they have only dealt with these problems.
Recently, I saw a video where Malvika Subba was talking about her struggles with pregnancy and being a mother in a society driven by traditional doctrines. I went to the comments to see how people are reacting to it – and I genuinely was shocked. People were shaming her for expressing herself because every woman deals with it and it’s ‘no big deal’ and ‘she is not special’.
This led me to ruminate on other instances where women are told off for talking about their experiences. Whether it is Taylor Swift talking about women being held to a different standard in the entertainment industry, or Sonya Rhodes talking about people not taking you seriously at work if you stand up for yourself. Whether it is Samragyee Shah talking about her sexual assault or if it is Alexandria Ocasio Cortex raising voice for women being abused, sexually harrased and belittled in workplaces. All these women are told that it’s just not them. They are not an exception. And that is the point.
Sexual harassment, assault, gender based discrimination – all of it is not new. It’s not just some of us. And that is the problem. That is why we need to keep raising voices. That is why we need to share our stories. It doesn’t make us special to have these stories, – and we are not doing it for attention.
- Feminism is not necessary now, women already have rights
Yes, women have rights. Just like you have rights. But people still get murdered despite having rights. Similarly, women still get raped, sexually assaulted, don’t get paid equally, don’t have access to menstrual products, are burned down for dowry, and considered the “secondary citizen” in so many places.
Feminism is not just about ‘rights’. We are all born inheriting equal rights as human beings. But apart from those rights, nothing is equal. People still oppose women getting to vote, there are still debates about body autonomy and reproductive rights, men aren’t given the freedom to emote without being judged, transgender men and women can’t use the washroom as per their choice, and there is so much we are yet to achieve in terms of equality.
Society isn’t equal yet. It won’t be for a long time and that is why we need feminism and ‘people who believe in equality’ to support it.
Feminism is not against you. It is against patriarchy, it is against misogyny, it is against male chauvinism. I understand that there are people who misuse the movement, and that doesn’t mean the movement is wrong. It means the people who are doing so are wrong. And believe me, when there’s a need to call out women misusing feminism, feminists will be the first ones to call them out on it.