How much of feminism do we understand?

“She feels good when they split all expenses, but also when he buys her flowers. Inside the modern feminist lies an archaic desire.” –Kruttika, for Terribly Tiny Tales

Presently, feminism is more popular than ever. With burgeoning coverage given in social media, popular culture and colloquial conversation, the educated class at least isn’t ignorant of the concept. But the question is how many actually understand it?

A vast majority of people understand feminism as a shift of power from the male sex to the female or empowering women to rise above men or simply a battle of the sexes to put every connotation in a nutshell. All these, unfortunately, are either partially or wholly incorrect in explaining feminism. It is a shift of power, of agency but not merely from male to female but to a harmonious balance between the two. Feminism is not matriarchy, as it is often portrayed as; all it entails is equality between sexes. It means doing away with the whole premise of ‘gender’. Finally, feminism is anything but ‘anti-male’. In fact most of social media paints feminists as male haters as if that’s some fundamental eligibility criterion to qualify as a feminist. The opening quote beautifully builds the theme of this article- feminism isn’t about making women unemotional and belligerent in social dealings, it is just about obliterating discordant chords between the genders.

Feminism is not just barring or protesting against reserved seats for ladies in public transport, rather it is protesting against the understandably ‘pink’ stickers demarcating the reservation, as if the colour pink was divinely bestowed upon the female sex as an identity. Feminism is not to say that girls become physically more proactive and outdoor oriented, rather it negates ridiculing a boy for being emotionally or physically weak. It’s not just against women living in their husbands’ homes after marriage, but also making it perfectly fine by societal standards for men to do the same. It doesn’t mean that women shouldn’t wear make-up or be obsessed with her appearance rather it gives the woman the sole right to decide how she wants to look like. It brings into light the sexual violence cases inflicted upon men, which patriarchy had skilfully closeted for years. It is definitely not just the right of women to wear short clothes, but it is also not judging women who decide to not wear short clothes.

Since the basic premise of feminism is equality between sexes, men need it as much as women do. It does away with foolish stereotypes which come as free packages with gender roles. Nowadays, a new term has been doing rounds – ‘meninism’- implying the counterpart of feminism for the male sex. The reasons often quoted in favour of that are awfully frivolous- from freedom from holding shopping bags to opening doors for women. However, ironically enough, these aren’t even products of feminism. The last thing a feminist would want is someone to open the door for her. This whole concept of reverse sexism, if it actually exists is the boon of the age old vice- patriarchy. It preaches chivalry (encompassing stupid things like paying at dates, sacrificing seats for women and being the supposedly stronger sex) whose primary  foundation is that women are the weaker sex and hence need protection in terms of ‘charitable acts of apparent respect’. Patriarchy as a social evil is so deeply rooted that it perniciously eats into the independence of both the sexes. Most religions shamelessly uphold this concept and it’s been perpetually perpetrated. It paints an inflexible boundary of expectations for both the sexes, and is so deeply ingrained in the minds of everyone that it is impossible for anyone to break free. And feminism attacks this. It gives an agency to both men and women to operate beyond these boundaries.

To understand feminism is not very difficult. We just have to let go of patriarchy 3D glasses to see what it is and what it is not. At the end of the day, in my understanding, feminism is hardly a fashion accessory, to be an ‘in thing’. It is realising and respecting every other person’s independence and choices.