“I’m not a feminist, I’m a humanist.”
“I dont identify as a feminist. I’m a humanist”-a statement I have come across in almost every conversation I have had with opposers of feminism. “We believe in equality of all of mankind,” they say, and I wait for them to notice the minuscule manifestation of the crux of what feminism stands against. “Mankind,” because humans are equated with males. Mankind, because our Constitution warrants equality with the gender pronoun “he.”
Feminism is not called Humanism or Egalitarianism as Feminism, Humanism and Egalitarianism are three distinct theories. Humanism is a philosophical stance, which emerged during the period of Enlightenment, advocating equality, tolerance, and secularism, and rejecting dogma to form moral norms, and discard the notion of supernatural. It focused on logic, rationality and ethics. However, it does not intersect with feminism or equal rights for women. Feminism and men’s rights don’t form the equation of humanism. It is not a political movement, nor does it focus on gender equality.
Egalitarianism is a school of political philosophy advocating that all humans are equal, hence are entitled to all resources, and dignity and respect. It advocates fairness and justice based simply on the fact that we are human beings. All humans are equal in fundamental worth. However, it has been dormant lately as it’s more about over-throwing monarchies, and fight for democracy. It includes everyone only in theory, via gendered words.
Feminism is a social and political movement, that highlights the centuries of layered and structured oppression womxn have faced based on their sex. Womxn have been subjected to death by sati, dowry demands, have had their heads shaved off because of the death of their husband. Every form of oppression screams that a womxn is inferior, and nothing without a mxn.
Womxn are denied representation due to biological factors. While the biological difference is undeniable, there is no difference in the sexes in terms of cognitive capabilities. A person’s sex does not justify denial of opportunities or representation.
Every 13 minutes, a womxn in India is raped. I have read articles where mxn found it repulsive to even stand next to a womxn. The only way a mxn stops stalking a womxn is when he finds out she has a boyfriend, because that’s the only way mxn take “no” for an answer-when another mxn stands up.
Feminists are not anti-male, misandrists are. Not all mxn oppress womxn, and not all womxn seek equality rather than an “upper hand.” Feminism doesn’t seek to oppress mxn; that is how gender-based oppression works, and that is what feminism seeks to end. Feminism is not an exaggeration; womxn do not want to take over the world; They want what is rightfully and justly theirs. Stop de-prioritising womxn’s oppression. We need equity to advocate the rights of those who are underprivileged. This is not to ignore the discrimination mxn face-suicide rates are higher for mxn. They are told to not cry, because it's “feminine” to express emotions. The problem is the weight and connotations of the prefixes “fem” and “masc” carry, which seem to dominate the social world. Apparently, being “feminine” is derogatory. I came across a hypothetical situation which stated that a “masculine” womxn will be respected more than a “feminine” mxn, because she’s “masc.” This roots to patriarchy, which has us all in shambles. Patriarchy includes xenophobia, sexism, racism, homophobia.
However, one cannot use the term “humanistic” to prove their loyalty to equality; we need to spotlight the individual forms of discrimination, One can pledge allegiance to more than one “isms.” With the evolution of the battle for equality for the marginalised, feminism has expanded to include all genders and strive for gender equality.
Quoting Virginia Woolf-“throughout history, anonymous was a woman.” Name is powerful, which is why we need to say “feminism.” Replacing it with “humanism,” “egalitarianism,” or other semantics is a reductionist and an ignorant attitude towards the oppression womxn have faced; it is a painless way out of facing with the reality. Refusal to use the word “feminist” is an insult to the shackles womxn have had around their wrists, the tapes on their mouths, the fights womxn put up to end it, the humiliation and lethal ends those revolutionaries faced.
- Kareena Arora