In the recent years, “feminism” has become a buzzword. In general terms, women who believe that they are better off without men, or fiercely argue that men should do domestic chores, or who rebel against age-old notions about a woman’s responsibilities and limits are understood as feminists.
Feminism is actually defined as the belief in social, economic and political equality of sexes. From the first wave of feminism in the late 1700’s to the fourth wave of feminism in around 2012, we have come a long way. It is a popular notion that only women are feminists. But a feminist is anyone who believes and advocates social, economic and political equality of sexes, be it a man or a woman.
But sadly, most women today who consider themselves feminists, are actually popularising “feminazi”. Instead of advocating gender equality, she is more into man-bashing and shunning the role of men in her life. She considers financial independence as real independence, has a false sense of superiority, try to dominate relationships, rebels against performing basic household chores and so on. True, financial independence gives a woman confidence and wings to live her life on her own terms. But financial independence is not supposed to become a licence for arrogant and disrespectful behaviour. Pardon me for being crude, but I am looking at the scenario as a regular working and a married woman. I am not trying to undermine my fellow women in any manner, but just reflecting on the sad reality of things around me.
I know several financially independent women, living on their own and taking care of their own needs. Then surprisingly on getting married, many such “independent or feminist” women become totally dependent on their partners for most of the household chores. In today’s era, when most things are available on a click, they refuse to book a cab, order supplies or pay bills on their own.
Even if she is earning, she might shun from sharing household expenses and is of the opinion that the man of the house is supposed to take care of all household and family related expenses. Even though she refuses to go out of the house for family or home related things without her partner, she doesn’t need any chaperoning while going out with friends or for personal shopping. She believes that by marrying her, her husband has agreed to be enslaved to her for eternity and is supposed to be at her beck and call at all times. Her marital rights now includes the right to undermine and dominate her husband. Peace prevails if her man submits with the white flag. But if he doesn’t, swords are drawn every day.
Then, there are the other kind of independent and feminist women who are taking up financial as well as household responsibilities with their parents, siblings or partners on equal footing. She knows how to change a light bulb or the gas cylinder, book a cab and has no qualms about taking the public transport. She nurtures the young in the house to practice gender equality and guides them to be tolerant and caring.
There are also men feminists who support and guide their partners, sisters, daughters as well as colleagues to be independent in the smallest of matters. He urges the women in his life to chase their dreams, pursue education, speak up and not tolerate injustice. He doesn’t chaperones the women in the house every time they need to go out of the house. He chooses to help around the house out of love, care and understanding, and not because they leave such chores to him. He values their opinion, respects their individuality and supports them.
In a larger society, feminism means many things, including equality in terms of education, economy, lifestyle, rights and so on. But on the ground level, it has to begin at home. I believe feminism is not about role reversal of man and a woman from traditional practices, but about believing and practising gender equality in all aspects. It doesn’t mean women being hell bent on on believing that all men are misogynists and that they can be chastised only by dominating behaviour. It simply means women are no less than men in any aspect and that the world be a better place if men and women work in tandem.