In the past, we’ve talked about what some people get wrong about feminism. If you have not read that piece, I urge you to do so by clicking here. In light of recent events, I thought it was a good idea to delve into why some of us have these misconceptions. Well, I am actually going to talk about why I used to have misconceptions about feminism. And I hope that through this, we can better understand why some people around us have similar misconceptions.
From a very young age, I noticed that there was a ‘right way’ of doing things. The people and society around me told me that men and women were fundamentally different and that these differences meant that we were to play different roles in society. It was how society functioned and deviations from these norms would lead to an ‘imbalance in nature’.
Nowhere was this more obvious than in the movies that I watched in my formative years – the 90s. There were plenty of Malayalam movies where women who questioned the status quo caused trouble in the hero’s life and led to a crisis in the family; which was solved (most often) by the woman embracing the ‘natural order of society’. To their credit, most of these movies did not label the lady’s behaviour as “feminist”.
These women, however, were in stark contrast to the ‘uthama kudumbini’ – they wore modern clothes, most often asked for some form of equality (which was portrayed in a manner that made them look snobbish), and sometimes hated men. By not separating feminism from misandry, these movies painted a tainted picture of feminists and feminism in my head. Now, this might have happened because I am an absolute idiot, but it led to me thinking that women who fought for equal rights wanted to bring men down, they hated men, and that they didn’t realise that there were fundamental differences between the sexes that led to things being the way they were. I was one of those guys who would’ve said, “Feminism enthina? Equality varatte!”
While my family and school weren’t model specimens of what was shown in the movies, they did have underlying hues of this ‘right way’. However, I had the privilege of being in a family that let me question the way the world worked when my perceptions changed, and my school encouraged me to question my perception of the world. This freedom to question led to me realising that this ‘right way’ is what is called patriarchy.
I realised that patriarchy wasn’t the natural order of things, but a construct of archaic thinking and that it was a product of a time when we didn’t know as much about our species, our minds, and our consciousness. I soon realised that feminism wasn’t a man-hating movement and that its true objective was to achieve equality of all genders. The more people I met, the more I realised that the objectives of feminism were the best course for humanity and that it was the next step in the evolution of our society.
But this isn’t to say that I am a feminist. I would like to think of myself as someone who believes in feminist ideals and is working towards being a feminist. My mother and I live under the same roof and she is the one who cooks every day. Only yesterday did I tell her that I’ll cook on alternate days. I’ve just been lazy till now, and I guess many of us are afraid of feminism because we’re afraid we’ll lose some of our privileges.
So dear reader, if you think feminism is evil, ask yourself if
- it is your conditioning clouding your perception of the world
- you’re confusing feminism with misandry (due to conditioning or a bad personal experience or some ‘ancient’ feminist literature that you’ve read)
- you’re afraid of losing your privileges
And if you’re someone who ends up meeting someone who thinks feminism is evil, try finding out why they feel so. Remember that they are entitled to have an opinion and that the best you can do is explain how they might have misunderstood the objectives of the movement. Also, remember that their views might change in the future, so there’s always hope.