• Why I am a Feminist: Nadika

    I am a feminist because:

    I don’t need feminism.

    What is this, why is this man pretending to be a woman oh is he a pervert he must be a sissy he didn’t have any strong men in his life to raise him he wants attention he is deluded.

    I don’t need feminism.

    Haha look why are all hijras begging on the streets why do they exploit us if you want to live you should work why do you dress like this so revealing a woman should have dignity you are not a woman

    I don’t need feminism.

    a mutilated male body is not a female body you were never female you haven’t experienced periods you haven’t woken up with blood on your legs

    I am a feminist.

    Or as I (till recently) put it on Twitter, I am a Jane-come-lately feminist.

    I began to read up, and think about, the ideas and principles that feminism propounds only after I came out, to myself and others, as a transwoman. I realised, and believed, that it was feminism that would accept me as a woman, will validate my existence as a human person, and protect me from deep seated prejudice and stigma.

    Over the last two years, I have, with the zeal of the new convert, defended feminism, held up examples of how patriarchy seriously hurts people and reduces the quality of life of a majority of people.

    But there are deeply problematic bits in (mainstream) feminism.

    Why Am I A Feminist She The People

    Why Am I A Feminist She The People

    For one, mainstream feminism is colour blind. The majority of feminists are white women with significant racial privilege and economic power. As such they overlook the privilege they hold, and intentionally or unintentionally negate and appropriate the struggles of women of colour.

    Mainstream feminism, especially as practiced in India, ignores caste entirely. Prominent Indian feminists mostly come from the more powerful, upper castes  and have traditionally enjoyed the same privilege within India, as white feminists around the world have.

    Also Watch: Sagarika Ghose on Feminism In India

    Mainstream feminism is also strictly gender binary. There are no grey areas for white feminists. A large part of the world still believes that gender is an either-or, and that one can either be a woman, or a man. This belief is so entrenched that even the UN calls for a 50:50 breakup of the planet, men vs. women, in their annual Women’s Day observance.

    Mainstream feminism excludes sex workers, disabled persons, and other marginalised identities.

    Mainstream feminism needs be inclusive of all gender identities. (Pic credit: weheartit.com)

    Mainstream feminism, till recently, was ignorant of, or wilfully exclusionary of, transgender identities. For a whole generation of feminists, gender was not a spectrum of choices. This ended up negating the existence of trans persons, and those outside the western/European concepts of personhood.

    Even today, RadFems – Radical Feminists – exist who believe that transwomen are ‘merely’ mutilated men, and not women. Called TERFs – Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists –they believe that trans women are actually gay men in women’s clothes, and trans men are lesbians seeking to escape from or benefit from patriarchy.

    Also Watch: Pragya Tiwari On Why She Is A Feminist

    I am a feminist despite, and probably because, of all these shortcomings in Feminism. I believe there is a need to be more intersectional. The more I talk about the problems that feminist thought needs to overcome, and the more I fight against stereotype, ignorance, wilful exclusion, hurtful propaganda and appropriation, the better my own life becomes, and those of others who are oppressed by and are victims of patriarchy.

    I need feminism. A feminism that engenders feminists who acknowledge their privilege where it exists and are able to use it to expand the scope of their work. A feminism that seeks to annihilate caste, and dismantle class structures. A feminism that is diverse, colourful, sex worker inclusive, trans inclusive, intersectional. I need feminism. Or as I would like to now call it, I need transgender feminism.

    Nadika is a non-binary, non-binary person from Chennai, India. She writes and edits for a living, and has interests in history, cinema and gender. She tweets @nadjanadika