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Aug 02, 2017 at 10:56

Lalantika Arvind writes on why being an open-minded woman does not mean one is blindly following the West

Many a times, while browsing the internet, I have come across these articles which feature women holding placards stating why they don’t need feminism, or why they feel feminism is sexist. These placards usually have signs like “I don’t need feminism because I am not oppressed.”

And the only thing going through my mind at that time is what does this first world woman even know about oppression?? Does she know that there are women around the world who are fighting for one chance to get an education? That many women are blatantly denied what she takes for granted, just because they belong to the female gender. What does this woman know about not being able to rise in her firm or earn the same salary as a male co-worker, even though she is working equally as hard as him, because she is a woman? What does this woman sitting in her air conditioned house know about a woman somewhere in the world who has to walk miles to fetch a bucket of water? What does this woman know about that single mother, who never got an education, but is working tooth and nail to ensure that her daughter or son never has to work that hard in life?
Granted, I am judging this woman based on a photo that I saw on the internet, but if she has the resources to sit in front of a computer and upload a photo like that, I’d say she is better off than most of the women I have talked about above.

Many say that feminism is bad as it creates a divide in society and fights for a privileged treatment of women.
But let me clarify one thing here: Feminism is the fight for equal opportunities, for both women and men. It is the fight to bridge the divide in society, which is caused by society’s patriarchal nature. It’s not asking for better treatment of women, it is only asking that women get the same, equal rights and privileges as men, in all fields.
Yes, there are women out there who are making it on their own, but not all women are equipped enough to make it on their own. For example, a girl child in a village in any south Asian or African country might be expected to work at home rather than go to school, as according to the sexual division of labour the patriarchal society has established, she is supposed to stay at home and take care of the house, and education would do her no good. Hence, she is not sent to school, and is not equipped with the basic thing she needs to make it on her own: education.

Feminism aims at bringing education to that little girl, who longs to grow up and change the world (come on cynics, every child wants to change the world at some point or another!).

And that is why India needs feminism. India needs feminism as that little girl, if given the right opportunities, may one day become the Prime Minister, and actually make a change. India needs feminism because I should not be the only one who is told to be safe when I go out of the house, but my brother should be told the same and both of us should be taught to behave ourselves. India needs feminism because people need to understand that just because I am wearing certain kinds of clothes, I am not ‘asking for it’. India needs feminism because the housework my mother or didi does needs to be valued as much as the work my father or didi’s husband does outside the house. India needs feminism because that little baby girl who just got aborted or burned alive for being a girl deserves a chance at life. India needs feminism because when my friend wants to pursue fashion designing instead of engineering, he should not be called names and poked fun at for choosing a ‘girly’ job. (What is even a ‘girly’ job?!) India needs feminism because I am not the devil incarnate for believing that a woman should think for herself. India needs feminism because I should not be taught from an early age to be embarrassed about being loud and tom-boyish, but that I should be quiet and delicate, unlike my brother who is taught to be loud and aggressive. India needs feminism because people need to understand that I am just as capable of getting the job done as my male counterpart, even if it requires lifting a load. India needs feminism because it need no longer be a patriarchal society; it has to be an equal society.
Male oppression is deeply rooted in female oppression. And unless one is free, the other cannot be free. Think about it. If it is accepted that men can cry too, because oh god, they have feelings, something that only women are perceived to have, then we are freeing both men and women from the entrenched stigmas. That is of course, only the first step.

Feminism is not that I don’t want a guy to carry my grocery bags. But it is the fact that more often than not, I am capable enough, strong enough, to carry them myself.

Lalantika Arvind
Student Reporter

January 2017