By Manish Prabhat
Edited by Shambhavi Singh, Senior Editor, The Indian Economist
“Feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation and oppression.” This statement clearly states that the movement is not about being anti-male. It makes it clear that the problem is sexism. Clarity helps us remember that all of us, female and male, have been exposed to sexist ideas, thoughts and action since birth. As a consequence, females can be just as sexist as men. This does not excuse or justify male domination, but it does mean that it would be for wrong minded feminist thinkers to see the movement as for women and against men. To end patriarchy (another way of naming the institutionalized sexism) we need to be clear that we are all participants in perpetuating sexism until we change our minds and hearts, until we let go of sexist thought and action and replace it with feminist thought and action.
The aforesaid quote defines Feminism in the best possible manner. It is my hope that it would become a common definition for everyone. This definition is apt because it did not imply that men were the enemy. By naming sexism as the problem it went directly to the heart of the matter. Practically, it is a definition which implies that all sexist thinking and action is the problem, whether those who perpetuate it are female or male, child or adult. It is also broad enough to include an understanding of systemic institutionalized sexism. As a definition it is open-ended. To understand feminism it implies that one has to necessarily understand sexism. As all advocates of feminist politics know, most people do not understand sexism, or if they do, they think it is not a problem. A number of people think that feminism is only about women seeking to be equal to man and a majority of them believe feminism to be anti-male. Their misunderstanding of feminist politics reflects the reality that most people learn about feminism from patriarchal mass media. The feminism they hear about the most is portrayed by women who are primarily committed to gender equality – equal pay for equal work, and sometimes women and men sharing household chores and parenting. They see that these women are usually white and materially privileged. They know from mass media that women’s liberation focuses on the freedom to have abortions, to be lesbians, to challenge rape and domestic violence. Among these issues, masses of people agree with the idea of gender equity in the workplace – equal pay for equal work.
Imagine living in a world where there is no domination, where females and males are not alike or even always equal, but where a vision of mutuality is the ethos shaping our interaction. Imagine living in a world where we can all be who we are, a world of peace and possibility. Feminist revolution alone will not create such a world; we need to end racism, class elitism, and neo- imperialism. It will make it possible for us to be fully self-actualized females and males able to create beloved community, to live together, realizing our dreams of freedom and justice, living the truth that we are all “created equal.” Come closer, see how feminism can touch and change your life and all our lives. Come closer and know firsthand what feminist movement is all about. Come closer and you will see: feminism is for everybody.
Manish Prabhat studies at Kirorimal College, University of Delhi. A geographer, having the desire to explore the world. He is an avid reader and loves to observe the happenings around. Loves to think on issues affecting the society when alone. Other than that he is a civil service aspirant with a hope of changing the social perspective about the needs and rights of children. He believes in respecting all rather than a particular group of people.
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