Margaret Atwood had once said, “Men are afraid women will laugh at them; women are afraid men will kill them.” Feminists have always been labelled as humourless (can't take a harmless joke), killjoys, always objectioning to stuff; and as an anti-pleasure police. What people and the society at large, fail to understand is that the “joke” wasn’t harmless, it was sexist; the “objection” happened because patriarchy has always tried to stereotype women and this behavioural pattern needs to stop; the “fun and banter”, was nothing but archaic prejudices and sexist attitudes.
Stereotyping feminists is a trait often found in misogynists, deeply rooted prejudices which stem from patriarchy. People always wonder why feminists insist on calling it feminism and not equality, if that is what they are striving for? The thing is, the term ‘feminism’ has been used for the movement since centuries and it commemorates centuries of hardships and struggles faced by women; just because a bunch of misogynist people are uncomfortable with it, the whole movement would lose its significance while giving into it. Moreover, the feminist movement doesn’t simply seek equality between all genders, it primarily seeks to give back women everything they were denied for centuries and then establish a norm of equality of opportunity, outcome and access. Simply put, Feminism is the advocacy of women's rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes. The definition isn’t about equality in the sense of everyone being equal. It is about women having the same rights, resources, opportunities and outcomes that men have always had. It does not wish to demean or disadvantage other genders, it simply acknowledges that women have always been on the receiving end of subjugation, oppression and derogatory bias intentionally or unintentionally owing to the wonders of patriarchy. Feminism strives to include everyone, including men and non-binary people into its movement of abolishing impartiality on the basis of gender. It also attempts to help people of the marginalized races, sexualities, and other identity categories and finds its roots in intersectionality and inclusivity.
People have always denied the existence of misogyny and have discredited women for raising their voices, for ‘revolting’ against institutional discrimination rooted in centuries of patriarchal unjust norms that the society has never questioned because the society has never given women a chance to express themselves and the men have never been bothered by it. In other words, why would the oppressor have any problem with the oppression? However, times have changed, many individuals have tried to look within, are still trying to identify sexist and patriarchal behaviour that they are unknowingly conditioned to. Many men have realised the part their complicit silence plays.
What we should thrive as the new tech-savvy generation is, to read about feminism and the movement as much as we can, to distinguish it from “humanism” and mere “equality of say”. This can be achieved with the help of an abundance of resources available online and with The Feminist Time’s segment of book reviews of feminist literature! We need to start identifying our behavioural patterns and their roots and have to start acknowledging that there is a problem and it needs to be solved right away.
- Fayeza Asad