Deconstructing feminism — who is against whom?

‘Feminism’ entered the English dictionary in 1841 and became the Merriam-Webster’s word of the year in 2017. From being defined as, “the qualities of females” when first entered to “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes”. What one thinks of Feminism still differs. But what remains crucial is that it should not be misunderstood in terms of its objective, that is becoming equalitarian, creating equal gender relations and not suppressing or demeaning other sexes and supporting a false idea of the movement.

To break down the theories in the definition, the economic and social rights include, right to work, food, clothing, standard of living, social security and education. And to ensure political equality, a person must be able to participate in political life of a society freely without discrimination and protect oneself from getting violated by any government, social or private bodies. These rights should be equal to that of men. Men having a gender advantage in our patriarchal society, provides meaning to the revolution which struggles for equal rights for women and challenges everything that opposes it. Feminism neither strives for a higher standard of living than men nor does it demand higher wages than men. What it stands up for is the feminist thought of equal rights and opportunities for both men and women.  

To attain equality, the fight for women restricted to the kitchen or stereotyping women as emotional becomes equally important in regards to breaking the bias and fight for not shaming men who contribute to housework and the idea that suggests that men are supposed to be restrictive emotionally. When the fight for one gender outweighs the other and considers to achieve dominance and superiority by threatening the rights of other genders. And feminism reaches a furthest point of concern, that it becomes what is called pseudo – feminism. 

Kamala Bhasin, a pioneering feminist icon and a poet in an interview last year on seeing the gendered reality of children’s literature called herself, life – long student of learning and unlearning about gender. And asserted that, it is very much relevant to discuss gender because often it gives more power to men, the power which is taken from women and girls. And it also gives more power to the men who fit into the so-called ideal standards set by the society. 

And stressed that, ‘feminists are against patriarchy and not against men.’. 

In her book, Dhamak Dham, she writes


हमारे पिताजी बड़े निराले 

हम उनके बच्चे मतवाले 

काम से घर वापिस आकर वो ना बैठें ठालम ठाले 

हमारे पिताजी बड़े निराले

मेरे साथ खेल वो खेलें छोटू को वो गोदी ले लें 

हम बच्चों के नखरे झेलें मौक़ा पड़े तो रोटी बेलें 

हमारे पिताजी बड़े निराले 

हम उनके बच्चे मतवाले 

हम उनके बच्चे मतवाले

Coming back to the re branded term pseudo – feminist, where acts of misandry are clubbed under. Often confused with feminism, which stands for equality of all genders. And ends up creating polarity by limiting feminism to only advocating supremacy of the female. 

Misandry – prejudice against men and misogyny have always existed but cannot be equated with each other. We find people equating feminism to hating men, feminists who practice misandry, and blatant use of labels like man – hater and people who believe that bad experiences with men makes all men criminal. What is important to understand is that both the terms have nothing to do with feminism or being a feminist.  The true and sole purpose of the revolution is neutrality and equality of all genders. And this false and mis-constructed identity and understanding of feminism should not be ignored. 

In one of his TEDx talks, Harsh Sadani, a gender rights activist and the co – founder of MAVA (Men Against Violence & Abuse), Mumbai talks about deconstructing the notions associated with term and the practices in our culture and constructing new ways which promote dialogue rather than confrontation. One of the initiatives of MAVA, travelling film fest, uses films as a method to initiate conversations around the root of gender violence and how patriarchy affects men along with women. And highlights how feminism needs men as well as the importance of creating safe space for men in our society which makes the movement collaborative and without conflict. 

In her book, LADKI KYA HAI, LADKA KYA HAI? Kamala Bhasin makes us question the differences we have created in our society based on genders. And deconstructs the labels, the boxes that we tick, limiting us to our identities and our freedom. 

The fight is for all the genders to rise above the similarities in our struggle in the right direction to attain justice that the movement aims for.  

Source: Internet Archive