Normalising Feminism: Both the Word and the Spirit.

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I’m sure many of us have heard about Kareena Kapoor’s 2018 infamous comment on feminism which said, ‘I believe in equality of genders, but I am not a feminist’. Well, it’s not only her but many other female celebs from Madhuri Dixit to Katrina Kaif, Parineeti Chopra, and Mira Rajput Kapoor have fallen into the same definition trap. Is it because they fear to admit being feminist on camera because after all ‘public image’ and ‘popularity’ is a thing or is it that they don’t want to be deemed as “brainless extremists”; even so for many Indian feminists, they’ve become a laughing stock but I guess these outrage from us doesn’t bother them (shhh, it never actually did). Even though the UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador who calls herself a self-identified feminist and has always been active in her contributions in several NGOs focused on raising awareness on improving the condition of young girls in India she was found in a backlash at 2019 Beautycon LA for “Gaslighting” Ayesha Malik, a minor social influencer who had attended the event as an audience member. Gaslighting is a psychological tactic used by the domineering power to gain an upper-hand in a situation by instilling a series of doubts in their victims, often resulting in the target to feel “insane.” A woman shaming another woman is not the ethos of feminism and I hope PeeCee learns this soon.

When such so-called public figures either reject the idea of feminism or use it as a cool cloak but do not understand its core nature, it then gives birth to a new definition, seen in “today’s feminism”. Women find themselves stumbling upon giving explanations when confronted with, ‘why they do not think they’re feminist’,  it always ends up making zero sense with an underneath tinge of fear of being abandoned by mass, as if feminism is some sort of taboo. To be strictly noted that the mass doesn’t comprise of women; many youth women who don’t preach for feminism, thinking that it’s a seek for superiority over men, actually fears being deemed  “brainless” by the same men. So when a woman does not like calling herself as a feminist it’s entirely because they don’t want to be mocked by the men around them.The-I’m-not-feminist-but-I-support-equal-rights-for-both-men-and-women are simple naive cowards. No matter how I look at the above statement the only conclusion I get is of those few bystanders who watch the crime happening and do nothing about it. And when you ask them they say, “how would I know who is the culprit and how could I help when nobody else wasn’t!” The reason behind these many public figures hesitating from embracing feminism is a fear of facing misogyny.

And this is the whole damn khichdi here-  some women hide and don’t want to confront that they’re indeed feminists just out of fear of being targeted by prejudices or a dislike from men and these are the same women who are responsible for the definition of “today’s feminisms”. Let’s recall what the duck is “today’s feminisms”- crying for superiority it seems, demeaning men it seems; all that misandrism. How in heaven did the fear of misogyny suddenly lead to misandrism?? It’s called the silent hate; when a woman can’t speak up against sexism because of how she might be viewed among her colleagues or family or cousins or whatever she is silently welcoming a loathe for men inside her, which, if not kept in-check, grows into a big balloon of misandry. The only way for it to ward off is truly admitting oneself as feminists.

People that are mixing up hating men or wanting superiority over them as ‘‘pseudo-feminism’’, have to know that it’s just extreme misandry under the parent label of feminism. And this has misled many into thinking that feminism is nothing but dragging or bringing down the men. Claiming that it is “today’s feminism” that you’re against is not the right way to call out something that is misandry. You can’t roam around with a flag of Pakistan to say that you love your India or that you’re patriotic. Because that’s (men-abuse, degrading men, all men are trash, etc, etc) just falls under pure misandry behavior; yes, there is nothing more to it. When you’re addressing something as vulnerable as feminism you should have an open mind to also acknowledge the root causes of all of the misandry. It is women-sexism, in other words, patriarchy is the seed for misandry. Ironically, men themselves are the reason for the rising misandry while women here are like the cups that hold the tea- meaning women are at fault for drinking sexist behavior of men and growing so sick out of it that they’ve now begun to hate men. The interesting part here is the gateway through which misandry leaps out, and yes it’s feminism. Question yourself like this- how do it (misandry) surfaces, how does it mirror itself out- the ways! You know, it needs some parent, some title; prolly a flagship under which it could justify its thought/ideology-behavior. And because it’s a women’s matter feminism seems to be the most appropriate parent/host to parasite upon. This is how misandry becomes a part of feminism. This is how it comes out of feminism. This is why it is the responsibility of all the true feminists to address every misandrist as it has become that dark part of feminism.

Every movement has some leakage points to it; nothing is perfect, and as such the ‘loophole’ in the feminist movement is misandry. As long as women don’t fall into it, all is ok; feminism stays feminism. If you think about it all goes back to the psychology of the women, so you can’t blame the whole feminists’ community for the odium behavior of certain women. It’s just that- if the Power of Feminism (not the concept but power because at the end too much of power leads to tyrannical behavior- greed, competition, and supremacy) is being practiced as a “competition frontline between men and women” then clearly it leads to the door of misandry. I’ll blame some of the feminists for neglecting and not talking about the misandrist behavior of certain women as much as they should’ve but then you don’t see that into highlights. They should call out and keep a check-in-method in their feminist communities so as not to take in a “so-called feminist” to promote their rightful ideologies. And it is for this that today both men and women have begun to think Feminism as toxicity. I believe feminists need to clean their spaces from misandrists and make a strong vocal difference there.

The prime example of the exploitation of feminism as a movement in whole can be observed in the 2008 GoTopless Movement that took place in Venice. The movement emerged as an outrage against the arrest of Phoenix Feeley for roaming around bare-chested in public on New Jersey beach; she is now the main activist of the movement. On the page of the Gotopless organization, the spiritual leader Rael says, “As long as men are allowed to be topless in public, women should have the same constitutional right. Or else, men should have to wear something to hide their chests.” The movement claims for gender equality. But here is the problem- the intentions behind the movement. Its main concerns are not of women not having the “rights” but ‘why can’t women have it if men can have it’. Well, wait. Didn’t the right for women’s suffrage originate the same way? Yes, it did but it had different intentions which were gaining recognition among patriarchal and women-sexist society as women were then considered second class citizens; its concerns were much critical. With the Gotopless movement the intention remains to be that of “competition between men and women”- it is misandry in nature where some women can’t stand that men can roam bare-chested and women can’t, and if women can’t be then nor should men be allowed to be bare-chested. One of my friends said that a true feminist wouldn’t promote such an absurd movement but liberals would. Why? Because if men begin to ask for the same, that would be “go-pantless rights” they would be called perverts.

Women who have misused the title feminism for their selfish agendas have brought with themselves terms like “pseudo-feminist” or “today’s feminists” (which is nothing but misandrists) changing the whole direction of feminism; that’s why most of the young women today don’t call themselves a feminist. They rather chose to support equal grounds of rights for both men and women; which makes it a very ‘humanistic approach’ for solving prejudice against women. Why do women hate men? Because men have been and still are sexist to women; be it at homes, workplaces, or in just normal day-to-day conversations. These men carry with them a male privilege which is societally assigned to them right after the nurse announces ‘it’s a boy’. Does this justify their behavior to keep on degrading men? Of course Not! This sexist attitude that most of the men hold towards women leads to either two of the openings- you stand for yourself in it, and alongside show your support for the weak woman (which is feminism) or you go on hating men (misandry). You either choose to stand up for yourself and still love men or just hate men.

Feminism is only about empowering and uplifting oppressed women. Doing anything extra out of it, that’s speaking on behalf of abused men, advocating for LGBTQ rights is just like an added benefit on your CV and is called humanism. Now, why do we need feminism separately when it can simply be clustered under the humanism umbrella? Had men long back spoken about women’s suffering against sexist society then there wouldn’t have been misandry. But then who had to sacrifice their days and nights for the basic rights of women? Women themselves! Can a man put the same efforts in raising his voice for women’s rights as women for women does? If yes, then we will withdraw the whole feminism movement and come under your umbrella.

If you speak on animal abuse people would begin to think that you belong to a veganism tribe but that can’t be necessarily true because you can still be eating meat and using animal products. You might be speaking against animal abuse just because you find it inhumane. What you’re doing here is, you’re applying a humanistic approach and standing against it. But it’s only the vegans that help in actually tackling the problem by adopting a vegan lifestyle. The same goes for feminism and feminists.

Amun Khalid studies Psychology at Osmania University, Hyderabad.

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