The F-Word - Rhea Singh
From the title, I'm sure everyone thought of the same word. Nope, sorry, but you guessed wrong. This is about a word people say we don't need. That people think is unnecessary. That most people seem to assume is a joke.
We live in a society where feminism is looked down upon. We live in homes where when you mention feminism, your family tells you to be quiet so they can watch television in peace. We go to schools where when you say the word “feminism”, you can practically feel boys rolling their eyes and muttering “triggered, hysterical feminazis.” We walk in a city where women avoid being called a feminist because they think it’s a label that will make people judge them. We live in a world where when you scroll through the comments on a feminism post, you see people furiously typing- “FEMINISM IS CANCER” or “PATRIARCHY DOESN’T EXIST” or “YOU’RE PROBABLY FAT AND SINGLE IF YOU’RE A FEMINIST”. People say and believe what they want, but do they have anything to back up those rash statements?
If feminism isn't needed, then why is rape not considered a crime in Singapore and India within married couples, even if it's non consensual? Why is a Nigerian man allowed to beat his wife to reprimand and "correct" her as long as it doesn't cause "grievous bodily harm"? Why are men given longer sentences than women for committing the same crime? In Cameroon, the law states that a man is allowed to deny a woman the right to work if he feels so, and in Saudi Arabia, women are not even allowed to swim in a public pool, because it would be seen as "shameful". Why is the rape of a man treated as a joke, and why are they expected to have been "wanting" it? You might be shocked, horrified, that this kind of injustice still exists in the 21st century, but these are the cold, hard truths. Just because injustice has been accepted for centuries doesn’t mean it isn’t wrong. Because all of this proves that right now, at this very moment, we need feminism more than ever.
Feminism isn’t a stick to bash other people with. It isn’t a construct to push people down, or pull women to a status higher than men, even though that is a common misconception. It’s about freedom, liberation, and choice. Feminism exists for the sole reason to finally create a sense of equality between people, and finally give each person a chance to have the same rights as their counterparts. Sure, it isn’t perfect. Whether it’s extreme feminists who twist up the movement for their own advantage, or whether it’s the troublesome double standards at times, feminism has its flaws and weaknesses. No movement comes without its share of toxicity, but in the end, what matters is the message at the core. And feminism stands for equality.
Many people like to question the name of the movement as an excuse to not be feminists. “If it stands for equality, why is the name centered around women?? Why don’t you call yourself egalitarians or humanists??” For the same reason that we say Black Lives Matter. For the same reason we have Pride Month, not “Straight Month”. Historically, women have been denied their fundamental human rights simply due to their gender. Women have suffered discrimination in all professional fields, have been at the bottom of the structure of power in a male-dominated society, and have had to protest and fight for the most basic right to vote. In a society where men continue to hold power, fighting for gender equality, by necessity, means fighting for women to be made equal to men.
Some people say that we’ve already achieved equality. That feminism is unneeded because women and men are now seen as equal. Well, the day rape survivors are no longer questioned about “what were you wearing??”, I’ll believe that. The day people stop antagonizing men and calling them “simps” for the most basic act of treating a woman with respect, I’ll believe that. The day people stop telling girls they were “asking for it” or the day people stop expecting boys to have been “wanting it”, I’ll believe that. But until then, feminism will continue to be necessary and relevant, because change has to start somewhere, and that somewhere has to start with us.