I remember a conversation with a male colleague, where to the question of why he quit his last job, he nonchalantly replied “My boss was a feminist”. Taken aback, I asked him to explain, because in my head I’m thinking how can there be anything wrong with being a feminist? With believing that both genders benefit from a world devoid of inequality? What he meant was that she was rude, and treated her male colleagues with disdain. The veracity of that statement aside, I wasn’t surprised that he used “Feminist” as a synonym for “Misandry”.
Feminism has gotten a bad rap. Somehow the term has come to be associated with aggressive bra-burning, and angry man bashing. The result is that we’re uncomfortable with being termed a feminist. But here’s the thing – feminism is, quite simply put, a movement for gender equality. If you believe that women deserve equal opportunities as men, you’re a feminist. If you believe that women deserve equal pay for equal work, you’re a feminist. If you believe that women deserve equal rights as men, you’re a feminist.
Some time ago Priyanka Chopra made all the feminists in the world collectively facepalm when she said, “I don’t think it’s feminist, but it’s women empowerment… It’s got very strong female characters, and I don’t think it’s a bra-burning feminist show where you’re like, we hate men, but we have really strong male characters, too… It gives females an opportunity to be equal with the boys, and I think that’s really progressive.” Priyanka Chopra forgot that that’s exactly what feminism is. Thankfully, she went on to change her stance and declared herself a “proud feminist” recently.
The thing to remember is this – Feminism does not hate men. If anything, feminism can not succeed without the support of men. The dream here is to a create a world where both genders live in love and harmony, neither crippled by outdated rules and expectations created on the basis of gender.