What We Want When We Demand Equality

“Feminism.” What does this word entail? For some, it is the freedom of liberation, of being treated like an equal on all fronts, and doing away with stereotypes that demean or objectify women. For others, it’s everything opposite to men. Somewhere between the extremities of both voices, lies the true meaning of being a feminist. When we come across women claiming to be feminists, or men who claim to support feminism, do we truly look at the underlying presumptions, prejudices and biases of their belief?

Some women think that not wearing a bra, or changing the spelling of the word “women” to “womyn”, is feminism. For them, even something as materialistic as this constitutes liberation. Some men think that women working while taking care of the household amounts to feminism; they forget to factor in their own role in running a household. These two examples are incorrect interpretations of female liberation.

Herein comes the difference between feminism and pseudo-feminism. Feminism means establishing a society with equal opportunities and respect for all human beings, irrespective of their gender or sex, while pseudo-feminism focuses on establishing a society where women are more powerful, more important, and more entitled than men. If you turn to history, a similar attitude from our male counterparts is what gave rise to the feminist movement in the first place. By saying that women are better than men, we are returning to the same dump we came out of.

 

“I am so thrilled to be playing the iconic role of Maria alongside this amazing cast,” Zegler told The Hollywood Reporter. “West Side Story was the first musical I encountered with a Latina lead character. As a Colombian-American, I am humbled by the opportunity to play a role that means so much to the Hispanic community.” There is no official release date for West Side Story yet, though filming is anticipated to begin this summer.

 

There are many conceptual theories on the internet, so let’s discuss them using illustrations. If I have to state some examples of how equality works in feminism, I would point to one word –“choice”. In Indian society, it is considered a privilege if a husband “allows” his wife to work. Now, to look at it from both the feminist and the pseudo-feminist point of view, the former says it should be the choice of the woman, whether to work or not, and both parties are equally responsible for their careers as well as their collective household, while the latter says, ‘I will work because staying at home is sexist’. The former will give rise to a healthy society, the latter will destroy it.

The first thing we need to understand is that women and men are not biologically identical, so there are acts that only a woman can undertake, just as there are roles that only a man can fulfil, although these acts are largely limited to the field of reproduction. Under normal circumstances, only women can bear children. Similarly, the average man tends to be physically stronger, compared to the average woman (if, and only if, like examples are compared; for it would be futile to compare a rural woman with an urban man’s strength, or the strength of an Olympian with that of a corporate soul living a sedentary lifestyle), partly due to established gender roles and expectations arising out of toxic masculinity. These differences are to be celebrated and worked on accordingly, not stereotyped and confined.  

When we talk about equality, we actually talk about opportunities that are available to everyone. Some genuine concerns are equal pay for women, equal opportunities in education, and other work sectors, and equal participation of men in the household. We seem to be moving forward in the former two sectors, but lacking in the third one. Even today, we excuse the actions of men by saying, “boys will be boys”. What does that mean? That they don’t take responsibility for their actions? Such irresponsible attitudes give rise to pseudo-feminism, where women want to lay off men completely. This increases hostility in an otherwise conducive environment.

Some believe that the fight for equality is being fought only from the women’s side. But the truth is, we are lagging behind in recognising the fact that men have been stereotyped throughout history too. “Men are supposed to work” is probably the most common stereotype that exists today. But if someone had said, “women are supposed to cook”, imagine the furore.

The difference here is, we were oppressed socially, physically and economically so we stood up against injustice; whereas men, till date, continue to accommodate the stereotypes. They don’t complain because they have no support, nor is this matter looked seriously upon. A lot of men don’t even realise the pernicious effects of this toxic masculinity. So when we talk equality, it should be two-sided. If women are to have the freedom to work, men should also have the freedom to stay at home and look after their kids.

While the former is appreciated as liberation, the latter is disparaged. So when there is talk of equality, there should exist goals and plans towards a society where boys are taught that it’s okay to cry and girls are taught that they can be strong too; where boys are taught not to objectify and girls are taught to dress as per their choice; where a girl who is getting educated should not feel lucky, because it’s her right, and boys beating down a bully is not considered manly, but a sign of violence. Then, and only then, can we give up centuries’ worth of anger built inside us; only then can we forget the past, when women were burnt on stakes or were forced to hide their achievements under pseudonyms, and move to a better world. If not for ourselves, then for the future generation.

Pseudo-feminists don’t care about the rights of men; they only want their rights to be given to them without consequences. If you ask me, a woman saying, “I will not cook; that’s sexist”, is the worst sentence one can come across. The only way to break a stereotype is by not creating another. We must strive for equal participation while being considerate; by recognising the differences but providing equal opportunities. Whether one takes up or leaves the said opportunity should be a matter of choice, not privilege

Focusing on Literature and Lifestyle of the Urban Youth of the Country, LitGleam is a monthly magazine, an intrinsic part of BlueRose Publishers.

Within its pages, our readers find provocative essays on literature and lifestyle, guidance for getting published and pursuing writing careers, in-depth profiles of poets, fiction writers, and writers of creative nonfiction, and conversations among fellow professionals.

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