Let me leave no room for misconception and state with the utmost conviction my character can summon that ‘I am and will always be a feminist’.
If my words sound hypocritical, my sincere apologies. My qualifications to comment : grandson of a woman who juggled a household consisting of two daughters, a cow, few chickens and some relatives whose age be in angst while her husband was many miles away serving in the military. In the ways of today, she would not be considered a ‘working’ woman for she is but another homemaker but to me and my family, she is the cornerstone. Let me clarify before I am misconstrued that I do not hold contemporary feminism in contempt rather my point is on the unfair labels that are placed on women whose achievements are considered lower than those of ‘actual’ and ‘successful’ women and the attention that is being diverted from real problems facing women to those that are relatively petty.
A Housewife/homemaker ≠ Working woman/independent woman
In my observation, there are a handful of self-proclaimed ‘feminists’ who view women who are housewives or those who left their careers to care for or spend more time with their families in great distaste. I wholeheartedly support that woman should be independent and carve wonderful careers in a society that was predominantly misogynistic for much of its history. But, as the son of a homemaker and proud grandson of one of the most strong-willed women I have come across in my life, I find the labels attached to these women (homemakers) extremely unjust. These women have invested their sweat and blood in shaping the generation of tomorrow and needs to be held in the same regard as a career-oriented woman if not more.
In many cases, financial independence is monumental to a woman’s stand in her family and the society. But independence should not always be equated to monetary earnings as it is just one gear in a family’s framework. An individual who runs a household is as important as the primary earner and plays a pivotal role in the family’s well-being.
Feminism: Then & now
It is saddening to see that a movement which once fought for equal pay and social status and for the celebration of woman has been tarnished by terms such as ‘female preferential treatment’ and ‘feminazism’. Although it is vital that negative stereotypes and certain taboos need to be broken, funnelling of attention and resources to celebrities posing with sanitary pads while heinous atrocities against woman such as female genital mutilation and sexual violence have been pushed to the background is a deplorable phenomenon and just one of many such instances.
Freedom of expression and individuality is of paramount importance but brandishing T-shirts that read out ‘sl*t’ and ‘b**ch’ is quite simply equivalent to crapping on the sacrifices, dedication and effort put in by women of mettle in a male-dominated society i.e. feminists. An individual’s prerogative is to be respected but using ‘Feminism’ as the moniker to justify anything and everything casts a shadow of derision on the movement itself and would hinder the progress of those working day in, day out to free subjugated woman in parts of the world like Afghanistan and the ones striving to improve the quality of life of women in countries such as Kenya and the like.
Feminism in its true spirit is equality for a woman, not superiority; feminism in its true spirit is the celebration of womanhood be it a mother or a CEO; feminism in its true spirit is to take pride in the women who shaped your lives. I am a feminist in its true spirit.
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