Sunday, 10 November 2013

The Life and Lies of a Feminist

".....answer me this, kids, how on earth is a son more beneficial to the parents than a daughter? After all these years of my adult life, what I have found is that no boy cares for his parents more than girls do. Boys are reckless and insensitive maggots. Daughters are emotionally more mature and sensitive, and this capability makes them care about...", and on and on droned our English teacher, her enthusiasm fuelled by her false perception of feminism. She claims to be a feminist, and we are pretty sure she believes it too. Except she isn't really one.
This is a piece I've been wanting to write for a long time. There are perhaps more articles on feminism, sexism and mysogyny on the web and in print, than there are bytes on my laptop's hard disk drive. But I still wanted to write my own. Why? Well, because I like to write; because I, human as I am, love to express my own opinion on every matter; and because it is a topic that's rather close to my heart. But more than anything else, I wanted to write this because I believe that, when it comes to feminism, there are infinite varieties of misconceptions in an average person's mind. The most common of these misconceptions is one that makes us mistake feminism for misandrism. Basically, we don't have a clear definition of the word feminism in our minds. Indeed, many of us have ironically baffling notions regarding this term. The very thought of such people going around professing their so-called feminist ideas is horrifying.
Feminism is not a simple term that can be explained, or understood, with the help of a single sentence. It is a complex term, it takes patience to explain, and a broad and open mind to absorb its vastness.
Let's begin with the basics. Feminism is a good thing. It is so obvious a fact that writers often completely leave it out. I think it would be apt to quote Sherlock Holmes (A Game Of Shadows) here, "It is so overt, that it is covert."
There are many out there who question the very integrity of this phenomenon. I have personally heard and read numerous arguments against feminism. I would love to counter them, but it would be pointless, and a waste of my time. Here, all I am trying to make you understand is that no matter how strong an argument against feminism might sound, the feminist movement is, in its true form, a good thing. I am not asking you to blindly believe me, which you wouldn't, of course, even if I did ask you to. But, my word, by the time you are done reading, you will truly believe it.
Secondly, feminism is NOT about hating men. That is a whole different thing! The word for that is misandrism. So, don't shame feminism by calling yourself a feminist just because you hate men and think that 'all men are the same'. Just because you have met a couple of jerks in your life does not make it a universal fact that all men are jerks.

Feminism is not just about loving womankind, either. The English teacher I've mentioned above is all about praising girls and consistently infuriating the guys in our class by saying that all men are thugs. All girls are NOT 'good'. Not all girls have good manners or good handwriting or amazing emotional maturity (have amazing emotional maturity - sounds better than 'have leaky eyes' and 'are boring') or are responsible! Girls can be equally careless and irresponsible, and they have every right to be. Praising womankind all the time is not good because it leads to sky-scraping expectations for every girl to be 'ladylike'.
Feminism preaches that every girl is unique, and deserves to get the oppurtunity of growing up to be the woman of her choice. To be clear, unique does not mean independent and outgoing. Unique means unique. There's this stereotype regarding modern girls - that they are all less sensitive and extremely independent. Even that is wrong. Every girl has an individual identity. They are not sheep, to be fooled into believing that they have to conform to a particular norm. I, being a feminist, not only believe that all girls are different, but also support the fact that all boys are unique. I just don't understand why the society cannot digest this simple fact and let people create their own identities.
Finally, the roots of feminism come from the idea of equality. That all humans are equal. It is a bizarre fact that more people are ready to sympathise with the minorities for fighting for their right, but they go into denial mode when women ask for theirs, despite women making up half the population and being reponsible for the existence of the other half! Shame, indeed!

If you are wondering how a 16-year-old girl can have such opinions, I have two things to say to you. Firstly, 16 is not that young an age, okay? (At this, you can imagine me pouting my lips and rolling my eyes.) Secondly, I read. I always had this sense of pride about being a girl. So, every time I read a book, or any story for that matter, I learn a bit about feminism. Caitlin Moran, a feminist and writer, has been an inspiration for me. Her book, How to be a Woman, taught me a lot of in-depth stuff about being a woman, and not in the usual boring, mechanical way. Her observations about various phases of a woman's life are sure to tickle the reader's funny bone. And she helped me to shout out loud, 'Fuck you, the patriarchy!'
I think every girl should read it. In fact, if a boy gets past his embarassment and picks up this book, he will find a treasure of secrets about women, unravelled by a woman, that could actually make him understand them better. Just saying. ;)