This article was printed in the Mumbai edition of DNA India, on December 14th, 2016 – you can access that here
When was the last time you heard someone groan and say, “I’m not a feminist because women already have enough rights,” or “I’m not a feminist because I don’t hate men,” or the most common one: “I’m not a feminist because I believe in ‘equality’”. The answer is — not that long ago. Feminism is somehow misconstrued to be a man-hating, elitist movement by women fighting for female domination. It is not. Feminism is the simple belief that men and women deserve equal rights. A feminist is a person who believes in the social, political, economic and cultural equality of the sexes.
We live in an age where there is no country in the world that can say that they’ve truly achieved gender equality. We live in an age, where girls as young as 10 are sexualised by society, and young boys are taught masculinity. We need feminism, because even today, women in India earn 27 per cent lower than what men earn, for the same work. We need feminism because while young girls are taught to compromise and conform to norms set by society in all situations, young boys are taught to be ambitious and do what they consider right.
Can we do something about this? Yes. What? Start by acknowledging that an issue exists. Understanding the fact that women all over the globe are still the more vulnerable, legally disadvantaged and less-empowered gender is the first step to solving the issue. A permanent change can only be brought about transforming our mindset and our attitude. It starts at home. It starts with parents raising and treating their sons and daughters equally. It involves valuing ability and interest over gender. It involves giving equal importance and respect to both males and females.
Feminism is not just a fancy word. It’s an idea. We need it because it unites us under one term, a term that urges equality, in a time when it’s importance is more than ever.
And who better to quote here than Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, author of the book, We Should All Be Feminists, “Culture does not make people. People make culture. If it is true that the full humanity of women is not our culture, then we can and must make it our culture.”