mal’s Weblog

{February 2, 2013}   on feminism

this post is inspired by certain life incidents that have often made me think to such an extent that it irritates the crap out of me. 

i’ve often been labelled a feminist. and it has, simply speaking, pissed me right off. the first time i got called a feminist i had to look the word up in a fat oxford dictionary. and from what i understood of the definition, i could not agree with myself being labelled as such in absolute terms. the next few times it happened happened after a long long break. during this break, i used to go to school where the uniform demanded that i be covered in loosely fitting clothes, a large dupatta and a scarf, (other facts of the context are that the school was co-ed, and that i used to be very active participant in competitions of almost every sort, especially sports). anyway, so the next time it happened i was 3 years into university, and at an internship, where the rest of the 6 interns were all girls and just one guy. it was this guy who called me a feminist, which made me stop whatever i was doing, taken slightly aback, and look at myself objectively. the only things i could come up with were that i was active, enthusiastic, and vocal about things i believed in. which i consider an incomplete definition of feminism.feminism

over the course of time, i then tried to observe myself in everything i did. and even though i come from and live in a background where the majority of men are generally brought up to be chauvinistic and the majority of women are brought up to believe that it’s alright to be subdued even if it means their basic human rights are being trampled over, honestly speaking, not once did i find myself to be a feminist as per definition. not in any sense of the word actually. 

because as far as i’ve seen feminists to be, they have to pick a bone with EVERY freakin thing and make an issue out of it: they’ll take the issue of education, and decorate it with an absolutely unnecessary “adjective” to make it “female education”. they’ll take marriage, and turn the spotlight on “the poor woman”. they’ll take abortion and label it “cruelty on women”. 

NO freakin matter what the facts of the case are.

the facts of the case may very well be that a family has happily & collectively decided to spend their little funds on the education of their boy rather than their girl (beyond a certain point) because the boy has to support them and the girl is just not doing well at studies and does not have a temperament or potential for doing good. the facts of the case may equally likely be that “the poor woman” getting married is actually getting married to the love of her life who respects her, values her, loves her for who she is (and it is perfectly possible and okay to find such a partner, mind you feminists – there is no harm in allowing a man to take care of you as his wife; this choice is not a reflection on the woman’s lack of ability to take care of herself because if god forbid such a time comes, she will face the hardships and find life in the rest of her time anyway). the facts of the case may well be that the pregnancy NEEDED to be terminated due to potential health risks.

frankly speaking, i dont believe there is the need for anything called feminism. there should be only personism if you know what i mean: (staying within certain moral boundaries and guided by common sense regarding what’s best for one and what isn’t) every person should be allowed to do what they want to do (be it the choice of career, choice of education, choice of clothes – choice in any matter). any person (man/woman), who displays enough talent and potential for it, should be happily supported to pursue their choice of hobby and turn it into passion & career, be it a girl who wants to join the race of the corporate world, or a guy who wants to become a fashion journalist or an artist, or a girl who wants to pursue sports, or a guy who wants to pursue dance, or a person of either gender who wants to pursue religious studies as their major. just, whatever. whoever. their choice. 

in fact, now that i think of it, i believe feminism as a term likely came about when women who were not allowed to do something which should not have been denied them merely based on their gender, went ahead and did it anyway or became vocal about their resentment at such curbing, and men who disagreed with them started labeling them feminist. which, as a process (how it happened / came about), makes sense. but women who then “choose” to be active feminists are also quite wrong. 

who is one woman to adamantly try to convince another against choosing marriage and kids or the choice of not pursuing further studies or a career, anyway? who is one woman to try to do this without regard to what makes the other woman happy? 

i know i dont try to convince my sister to drop all her cooking experiments because she should stand up against anyone trying to tell her she should cook because it is her job. i dont try to convince my friends who cover their head to stop covering their head because it is a form of suppression as has become popular. i dont tell someone not to have kids yet, or to stop after 3 kids, and i dont tell someone they should reach for higher rungs in the corporate ladder. because it’s not my decision to make. i may stand up for the notion that no one has the right to tell anyone else what their ‘job’ is because they think so, because, i believe, ‘jobs’ are derivatives of necessity – case in point: a single dad may love cooking & clean for his kids because that is what gives him satisfaction; case in point: a household of women with no dad and no brother to support them will have to go out and get educated so they may secure jobs and secure a better future –  simple as that, and that is what makes me believe that i am not a feminist. 

so. i dont believe i’m a feminist. and i dont get why all the hype there is about “feminism”. i dont see any hype about anything called “masculism”, and i think the simple reason for that is that guys dont create a scene out of everything. there will be guys who will be discouraged from pursuing ladies fashion designing or dance, and that is unfair to them, i totally agree. but i dont see any concept of “masculism”. feminists need to calm down.

[after thought: there is also this thing about feminists doing things in the name of “standing up for women’s rights” that actually pose further problems for women themselves. for instance, raising a hue and cry over a father/brother/husband imposing, say, curfew on their daughter’s daily routine, not realizing that perhaps the family lives in a dangerous place where hoodlums are commonly found. or other such things. one should simply leave each person and each family to their own self, unless you have something positive to offer, such as assistance with them trying to achieve something, or an attempt at trying to counter injustice happening there. otherwise, sorry to say, but anything which is not in line with someone’s own goals, objectives and wishes, if imposed on them, especially by an outsider, for something the outsiders strongly and adamantly believe in, wont be welcome anywhere].

(March 11, 2013) PS. ‘Feminism’ is a term coined by men & women who are threatened by the fact that a woman may be right in pointing out that a man can’t demand a sandwich. Men who are scared to accept their share of responsibility, men & women who are not fair enough to realize that no one can define anyone’s roles for them based on their gender alone (point already elaborated above). When people are threatened by the truth, by justice, they give it names like feminism, ridiculing the truth.

PPS. And that is why nobody needs ‘feminism’ (whether you speak from pov of Islam, or from pov of human rights literature – and frankly i dont get what the difference between islam and human rights is when islam is nought BUT a way of life in the guise of a religion based on and revolving around human rights.

I grew up around women who were strong feminists way back in the Steinem days. My wife works in higher education, which in her position is not unlike a corporate job. Together we have a daughter, a six year old. My wife and I feel feminism fell short for many reasons and teach our daughter personal responsibility, self-reliance, self-respect and education are most important. I am a stay-at-home dad, cook, clean and spend many hours a week in a dance studio for my daughter. My wife works 80 hours a week. It’s just the way it is; people do what is necessary to conduct their lives. There is a role in life for everyone and a person to fit every role. At the end of the day does it matter who supports a child’s development? A boy can dance, a girl can fight MMA, and both men and woman can support a child’s decision to do anything they want.
I agree. You are not a traditional feminist and be glad you are not. Some of the older feminist we know are not happy people. They are militant, male-hating and bitter. I think manly because of women like yourself who refuse to join the ranks. Kudos to you for being independent, responsible and a free-thinker.

malinink says:

very succinctly put: “people do what is necessary to conduct their lives.” Glad to know there are people out there who believe beyond “feminist or not”. Nice to know you.

malinink says:

also, very important point you highlighted: that traditional feminists, or hardcore feminists, become bitter and men hater. in practical life, no one can nor should classify everyone because of their experience with one or few of their gender. it is true that some men deserve nothing more than hatred, unless apathy, and that some women deserve nothing more than hatred, unless apathy. but to sweep everyone under the same rug and suffer yourself for it – how sad of a life is that.

malinink says:

also, very important point you highlighted: that traditional feminists, or hardcore feminists, become bitter and men hater. in practical life, no one can nor should classify everyone because of their experience with one or few of their gender. it is true that some men deserve nothing more than hatred, unless apathy, and that some women deserve nothing more than hatred, unless apathy. but to sweep everyone under the same rug and suffer yourself for it – how sad of a life is that.

Hi, I grew up believing in feminism. Then I went through life and found it didn’t accomplish much of anything but allow men access to my checking account. When I started writing, I believed in it, because I believe in all the things that you say (or most of them) and I believe that feminism means that women deserve to have self-determination. That I have the right to make decisions that affect my life. I married an abusive man and had a father that thought I was incapable of making good decisions. I can’t say that my mother was a good role model, though either. I had one woman in my life who was. So I set out to try to “redefine it” because it just didn’t seem to fit everything that I’ve experienced. But I didn’t have another word. There is a site called Role/Reboot that talks about what I felt I was trying to communicate and you might find it of interest. We need to have words to talk about our experiences and the only one I had was feminism, but I am thinking about all of this now, your post included. Thank you for putting your thoughts out there.

malinink says:

hello, and welcome to my online journal of sorts 🙂 you know the one thing i really admire about you sort of immediately? it is the fact that you are conscious of the fact that you are still mulling things over, and are in the process of thinking; that you did not simply respond to this post with a flat out agreement or disagreement. that is something i have found to be quite rare in my part of the world. very few people have the guts to say “hey, i dont have an opinion on that yet, because i am still thinking about it” and such things. nice to know you 🙂

Thank you for your kind comments. I am very open minded and really try to understand everyone’s rights, not just say I know what is right for someone. I am sharing my experiences and if someone finds them of value, fine, but I know it would be stupid to try to impose my views on anyone. I have always thought that was what it meant to be a feminist, but I am now seeing that term does not feel inclusive to some people. I wondered if “Humanism” would be more appropriate, but not sure today if that is solely considered a “secular” concept and I have had a number of experiences that have felt like true gifts from God, so I truly believe in God/Creator.

malinink says:

that’s the problem: so many people think it is their right to try to live someone’s life for them. and yes, you’re right about needing a word to communicate. even i couldnt come up with anything better than “humanism”, but then i was like poeple might start confusing it with humanitarianism etc. however, as far as i’ve studied english literature, or any language for that matter, i’ve come to the conclusion that the more lightly one takes a word, any word, the more likely misunderstandings are gonna be. thank you for your contribution 🙂 do check out past posts of mine, i’d like that.

I spent a good part of yesterday trying to come up with a word. Didn’t come up with anything I was happy with as I mulled it over while out shopping (thought I had gotten spyware in my computer yesterday am, and it took a good part of the day to buy protection software, which meant I had to scan my entire computer twice–and cupboards were ridiculously bare.) Was reading posts until about 1 am, then ~sometime~ this morning, I came up with a new phrase. Going to add it to my banner. I found my way to Freshly Pressed in a round about manner (I had a dot-org site and a friend had dot-com and kept telling me about the Reader–and we finally figured out how I could get connected with JetPack)…and I am totally blown away with the posts there, in a more-than-I-can-express-right-now good way! I will check out your other posts soon. Have a great day!

I enjoyed going through your posts. We have a lot in common. I’ll look forward to future posts.

Hi, I am new to blogging and realized that some of the sarcasm I used on my post today may have come across the wrong way. I reworked a number of places if you happen to come back to it for any reason and wonder why it changed. I am going to have to figure out how to do better getting it right the first time :–)

what say you?

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