Every time I declare that I am a feminist, it’s as though I have declared war. I watch men involuntarily fold their arms in self-defense because they automatically assume that I am a man-hating emasculator.
Women are quick to assert that they are not with me; that feminism is overrated and feminists are too angry. You can’t be happy, loved and free and still be a feminist, they say.
For the longest time, I have judged and ridiculed people, especially women, who view feminism in this narrow spectrum. I have accused them of ignorance and stagnation.
Because for me, it’s simple; feminism means women emancipation, social justice for women, and equity of the sexes. Naturally, I thought that anyone who is opposed to it is either a patriarch or a misogynist.
However, the truth of the matter is that most people who are opposed to feminism don’t understand it. And it’s not entirely their fault. Most of those who proclaim to be feminists misuse and misrepresent it.
First and foremost, it seems like an exclusive club for crazed career-driven women who either can’t ‘find’ men or can’t stand them. As a dear friend once said much to my chagrin, it is like a private movement for heartbroken disgruntled females, and males who are looking to score.
His argument was that feminism is supposed to provide women with freedom of choice. But it’s as though, he said, freedom of choice does not include the freedom to be a housewife and/or a stay-at-home mother even if it is in your family’s best interest. “You must all fight to be president.”
In retrospect, housewifeship is associated with submissiveness which goes against the equality that feminism seeks to achieve. Still, the opposite of submission is not insolence as some proclaimed feminists seem to think. You don’t need to be insolent or dismissive to establish your place as an equal partner in a relationship. You can be considerate without being a doormat, kind without bending over backwards, assertive without being insulting.
And it’s not necessary to lose your sense of humour to the point where you get annoyed over every joke. It’s not necessary to write long social media comments about why you don’t find a simple light-hearted sexist joke, funny. It’s okay to give and take compliments and to accept simple gestures of kindness.
But beware of the double standards. Some women are feminists until they have to split a bill. And then suddenly they expect their companions to be ‘real men.’ Feminists until they have no seat in a crowded place and suddenly they are these weak vulnerable creatures that are at the mercy of ‘gentlemen.’
Most of all, the misrepresentation of feminism is in the belligerent way(and I am guilty of this, sometimes) in which they leave no room for dialogue. Men and women are equal. Yes? Yes. But actually, no. Culture and religion have told us otherwise for millennia, and disallowing conversation creates conflict rather than change.