Here at SheThePeople, I often hear a woman’s definition of the term feminism. But, I haven’t really come across men defining what feminism means to them. I asked a few men I know, some of them my friends and some acquaintances, their definition of Feminism. At a time of global movements like #HeForShe and also an understanding of why #NotAllMen hijacked the conversation right after the Bengaluru molestation case and got flak for it, it’s interesting to know just what millennial men are thinking.
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“Feminism according to me is an advocacy for basic rights for both men and women. Contrary to popular misconception, feminism is not about suppressing men or is limited to glorifying women. Men too are victims of patriarchy and I believe that this movement really needs support of all three genders to uplift the oppressed section. And it is absolutely okay if being a man you have in the past resisted adopting the term feminism (maybe due to misconceptions) but at this time, we men consciously need to ‘turn’ into feminists, not just on social media, but in our households and surroundings too. So yes, I can call myself a feminist.” - Vaibhav Jha, 25
“Feminism for me is to bridge the social inequality and gender disparity that has prevailed over the years. To build a place where gender doesn’t dictate the actions of an individual, nor try to impose restrictions i.e., in the form of clothes, time to come home, or restrictions in marriage such as cooking and housekeeping. It also means equal opportunities for both men and women.” - Vishal Reddy, 24
— MAKERS (@MAKERSwomen) December 29, 2016
“I think feminism is an ideology that advocates gender equity. It attempts to challenge the conventional gender roles. However, the effects of the modern feminism have failed to reach to the grounds where gender disparity is at an alarming state. Instead of mobilising the masses, service providers and end beneficiaries, it is mostly limited to entrepreneurial initiatives by women. Evidently, when we look at the trends and development issues of migrant women, services of Anganwadi, self-help groups and even their decision-making capacities at family and community level, realities in hinterlands haven’t changed much.” - Siddharth Tiwari, 27
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Of course it’s not just in the hinterland where things haven’t changed, but that’s another issue. Others don’t agree on the need for these “exaggerated” conversations, but think all conversations on feminism and equality turns into a conversation on women’s safety in the end, in India.
“Just equal rights for women ya! People just exaggerate the whole thing and take it to another level these days. They see it as a power struggle in the society. And yes, I am a feminist, I do believe everyone should be treated equally. But that’s an ideal case, no one is equal and no one could be.”
“That is one reason why law and order and security infrastructure should be strengthened and for that, you need political will. So, I don’t think the situation is going to change so soon. And all this debate on feminism turns into women safety in the end so, for that the change has to come from the people itself, change in mindset and respect towards women. The change will only come when parents of newborn kids start teaching their kids the to respect women, it will be a big social revolution. And that will take decades. You see Bangalore, even educated b***ards are doing it, what do you expect from others then.” - Gowdhaman, 25
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“Feminism for me is equality of sexes. In a way I’m feminist but somehow in the current world, feminism has developed a negative meaning rather than what it’s actually supposed to be. The question should be whether a “person” could do it or not, rather than defining it by which “gender” could do it. That’s what feminism is for me.To wrong the ideology some feminists supports the idea that women are superior but the axiom is the equality, irrespective of sexes.” - Abhilash, 23
“Feminism, in my mind, is the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds that the sexes should be treated equally.This means two things — One is understanding the historical injustices done to women, and articulating your support for them across all fields. Equality means equality. From monetary matters to the expression of one’s individual sexuality or sexual desires. For a man, what it means is to really analyse the position of privilege that you find yourself in as a member of the patriarchy, and break those abhorrent patterns which perpetuate sexism. Calling out people on sexist humour or jokes, not agreeing with your mates when they say something that is even remotely chauvinistic etc.
Do I consider myself a feminist? I strive to be one every day — not just in terms of reading and understanding the theory and the reality of the struggle, but also in concrete ways — recognising that certain patterns of behaviour that I once had and stopping them.
Do I consider myself a feminist? I strive to be one every day — not just in terms of reading and understanding the theory and the reality of the struggle, but also in concrete ways — recognising that certain patterns of behaviour that I once had (when I was 15 or so and started being sexually active, I had a very superficial attitude towards women, which isn’t the case now for example) and stopping them. I call myself one openly, but it also needs to be tempered and justified with actions. For a man to genuinely be a feminist it means to constantly judge and critique and analyse your actions and the milieu that fostered them. So yes, with that in mind, I consider myself a feminist and an ally. And it’s something I’m working on every day, because it is so important.” - Aditya Iyer, 26
Something which stands out in all these quotes is that the understanding that there is a need for equality. Everybody has a different way of framing it but what we all have gotten right is that we need equality. But do we believe in what we say or is our idea of equality is not exactly what it should be?
Another person I spoke to said, ” You know I support feminism big time and I am a feminist myself. When it comes to a girl’s safety, I am always ready to help.” Sounds like a genuine comment, doesn’t it? If somewhat chauvinistic, when you consider the “coming to the girl’s rescue” trope, which many feminists would find problematic.
A couple of months ago in a random everyday conversation, this was the same person — when asked if his sister uses the car he’d left at home — to say girls aren’t allowed to drive cars in his family, because women are drivers and “if they start driving cars then what do we do? Make rotis?” He laughed at his joke for a while.
Feature Image: ied.eu