Are you a feminist?
Oh. You hate men then…(cruel heartless b—h!!). You women want to control us!
-No I don’t!
Aren’t you gay?
-No! I am perfectly heterosexual.
You must be old and single.
-Age is just a number and I don’t believe in the so-called traps of social institutions just because of a certain number!
You are probably ugly.
-Maybe not. Considering, “beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder”.
I knew it! You are ugly.
-And you are a Calvin Klein model just talking from the cover page of Vogue!
Don’t you hate children?
-No I don’t. But I might not want to have children of my own.
You are an atheist.
-Maybe. Maybe not. You can say I am “silent”.
You don’t want a family. All you care about is your career and be equal to men and dominate men. You won’t take care of children or do household works. You won’t take care of your parents.
-Maybe! Or maybe not! It’s actually a bit less ambitious than where I would put my standards. Just asking out of curiosity, isn’t it my responsibility to take care of my parents too?
You support homosexuality.
-Of course, I do. I believe sexuality is a private thing and everybody has the right to choose who they want to be with.
You are encouraging homosexuality.
-Actually, it’s not something that depends on my or your encouragement.
You have never met a decent man who loved you.
-I won’t say that. Rather I would say I decided not to put up to their bullshit pre-requisites for a promise of “a fairytale happily ever after”.
You didn’t find anybody dependable and who cares about you.
-I am a very independent woman. I can take care of my family and myself and I actually don’t want someone to depend on for everything.
Look at who become feminists? Old women who are going through menopause, ugly ones, who struggled in their childhood, or went through trauma, abusive childhood, bad conjugal life and etc.
You feminists promote free sex, polygamy, and abortion.
-I want to believe you know the difference between “free sex” and “freedom of sex”. Men and women both are polygamous by nature but a lot of us choose to be loyal while others do/don’t. Polygamy is not something that’s defined by gender and ideals. And about abortion, I don’t promote abortion, I believe in the idea of a woman’s choice of deciding whether or not and in what circumstances she wants to have a child.
That’s brutal. Why even call it FEMINISM? And not Humanism or something else that kind of goes with your theoretical claims?
-Why do you have so many problems with the word FEMINISM? And why do you make it sound like a bad thing?
This conversation can go on and on and on…..
But at this point, I feel mostly tired. Seems like with age (!) I am getting more impatient and less tolerant of circular conversations. The question above and numerous more are actually not imaginary. These are the everyday question we women hear directly or indirectly from both men and women. The question “are you a feminist?” comes with a number of exclamation signs, a good number of follow up questions, and a mixed lot of emotions like fear, ignorance, smugness, and who knows what else?! Unfortunately, I can’t say, I am happy that these are questions out of curiosity or ignorance and as it might sound like they are actually trying to know about it, the fact is different. Be not fooled or overwhelmed as irrelevant of the answers, their mindset doesn’t change much. If they really wanted to know, they would have found a way already rather than just making irrelevant comments.
My answer in this regard is always clear and loud.
I would say, “YES. I AM A FEMINIST”.Always.
Loud and clear and in all caps of course!Just as I answered one of my friends a few months ago while conversing and arguing about one of his ideologies to be stated as all feminists are some kinds of Nazi (partly derived from the word FEMINAZI )!! Eventually, he came to a point when he asked the ultimate question “are you a feminist too?!” Obviously with a few exclamation signs. As if it came to him as a shock!! As if just then I scared him with a thought he wasn’t expecting! You too?! How? Why? You seemed caring and sensitive (or maybe I knew wrong)!
So who is this FEMINIST? What is this FEMINISM actually? While there are clear definitions and a lot of confusion, I am not going to put the theories here to make this article long. There are thousands of pages of theories, millions of pages of individual ideologies (be not naïve enough to compare an ideology with an individual practice of expression), a lot more different types of expression of how an individual perceives them, and not to mention probably a billion pages of summaries. The problem with so many theories sometimes created confusion and gives the upper hand to the mass people who stand against it. It’s actually very easy to misinterpret something intentionally or unintentionally when one doesn’t know about a certain thing and perceives it’s a bad thing even without knowing. A lot of men along with women have their own ideas about feminism and I am not in a position to judge. In my case, I will say the theories are not quite relevant in a lot of cases, and to me, it comes with a bigger sense than only the “political, economic and social equity of sexes”.
For me, every woman who left the house for education that is beyond the need for household calculation and daily need of writing a list of groceries is a feminist. Every woman that went out to earn is a feminist. Every woman that chose to live their life with a minimum basic standard on their choices and decided not to be treated like a doormat is a feminist. A woman who works outside the home, or the homemaker, married woman or the single woman, a woman with kids or no kids, religious/ atheist/ silent everybody can be feminists at a certain point even if they don’t consider coming out strongly as one!
Whatever the situation is, my point of view goes towards a position whereas a woman or man has the right to choose for herself/ himself. It’s my life at the end. Despite the social, political, economical factors, I must have the right to decide what I want in my life. Do I want kids or not! If I do then when? Do I want to become an entrepreneur? Or a 9-5 working woman? Or do I choose to be a homemaker? Not to judge a homemaker because statistically, what a homemaker does in one year is worthy of a lot more than a lot of working men/ women earn considering their workload of the tasks of a nurse, babysitter, cook, cleaner, organizer, psychotherapist, healer, dress designer, interior designer, negotiator, mediator and so on.
Many women still deny the fact that they are feminists. And not to say, most men (and women) have a lot of unrealistic ideas about feminists. But the fact is the woman who wears a hijab and rides a bike is still a feminist. It’s a controversial story if being religious conflicts with her going out at all. Or if her religion actually permits the reason she is going out for. Or an idealist feminist might raise a point like a person can’t really be religious and support feminism as no religion supports equity of men and women. It should be an either-or situation. But religion in the present world, in the present situation, is raising a lot of controversies itself and it’s high time we think about reformation, correction, and contextualization if religion itself at all wants to exist in the future world.
Most of the time it is very difficult to write what I intend to write at the beginning and ending as it actually summarizes what I wanted to say (that I didn’t write). I would like to end with a powerful speech by Emma Watson at a meeting in UN as it summarizes actually what I wanted to write about today,
“My parents didn’t love me less because I was born a daughter. When I was 8, I was confused being called “bossy” because I wanted to direct the plays that we would put on for our parents. But the boys were not. When at 14, I started to be sexualized by certain elements of the media; when at 15 my girlfriends started dropping out of their beloved sports team because they didn’t want to appear muscly; when at 18 my male friends were unable to express their feelings; I decided that I was a feminist. For the record, FEMINISM by definition is the belief that MEN and WOMEN should have equal RIGHTS and OPPORTUNITIES. How can we affect change in the world when only half of it is invited or feel welcome to participate in the conversation! Both men and women should feel free to be sensitive. Both men and women should feel free to be strong. It is time that we all perceive gender on a spectrum instead of two sets of opposing ideals. All that is needed for the forces of evil to triumph is for good men and women to do nothing. If not me, who? If not now, when? And if you still hate the world, it is not the word that is important; it’s the idea and the ambition behind it. If we stop defining each other by what we are not, and start defining ourselves by who we are, we can all be freer”.
About the writer:
Tinni Rahman is a design professional. A multi-talented individual, her passions include traveling and learning new languages. She speaks 5 languages and traveled extensively across Asia and Europe. She is contributing to Women Chapter’s mission by translating some of the best articles from the Bengali site in her spare time.