By Arpita Das
As I sit down to write this piece, Twitter is going up in flames over SRK’s comment in an interview while promoting his latest film that he is not pro-feminist. As always I read such comments with a mixture of incredulity and disinterest. Incredulity because here is a man who sits astride the biggest popular culture industry in our country and has a daughter, and yet feels such discomfort in supporting feminism. Disinterest because one seems to be hearing so much of such thoughtless drivel these days. I have heard so many fashionable, young women say in the recent past that they are not feminist but humanist. I wonder who taught them that the two are mutually exclusive.
To me, being feminist is synonymous with being a woman. If I am a woman I can’t not be feminist. I know men can ‘choose’ to be feminist or not but I do believe for women, a ‘choice’ in the matter of being feminist would immediately translate into believing they should be treated equally and enjoy equal rights OR not.
For women, a ‘choice’ in the matter of being feminist would immediately translate into believing they should be treated equally and enjoy equal rights OR not.
So which woman would want that choice?
The choice does exist, however, in how you go about articulating your feminism. Through activism or education or being a committed worker or a nuanced parent, and so on. So many different ways. So many different feminisms.
I keep thinking that all these feminism naysayers need to be told that they have to begin to add the plural ‘s’ to the word feminism, instead of disavowing the concept of women being equal. They owe it to their daughters if not themselves.
And what about the choice as it presents itself to men? Well, here too it does turn out to be a simple one. Because masculinities too exist in the plural. There is no one, homogeneous masculinity even though there might be a dominant one. The notion of an unilinear ‘acceptable’ maleness has caused as much pain and suffering to men as has the singular notion of acceptable femininity to women. It has made men less human than they could be. It has compelled men to play the painful and lonely roles of providers, predators and power-brokers. It is the bedrock of what we call rape culture. For all those men to whom this thread of causality is evident and true, the choice is clear. They too must be feminist to save themselves and their sons.
It’s almost time for Pride in Delhi, and as we celebrate our right to our gender and sexual preference no matter what they be, doesn’t it seem a tad archaic to be dissing the worldwide movement from which the lgbt movement later rose, i.e., feminism. If one hadn’t been so successful, the other would not have stood a chance. So own your feminism not as your label, but the deepest core of your being, even as you wear it emblazoned across your chest, and know that if you are a woman who dreams and works and loves and breathes, you can’t not be feminist.
Views expressed are personal. Arpita Das is a publisher who owns and runs YODA Press, and independent publishing house. She tweets @arpitayodapress