“Feminist” has become a bad word because of some aggressive people who pushed too hard to get attention. But for the advocates of equality and human rights, it is still a clear and simple concept. It is not to treat women superior to men, it is to give them an equal opportunity(wage, place, freedom) and a voice.
Here are some undeniable proofs that in my eyes qualifies anyone as a feminist:
Empathy for other humans:
When you listen to somebody’s opinion, you think of the reason they are saying it. The background where the thought comes from. When someone disagrees with you or does something differently from you or looks or dresses differently, you acknowledge the differences and let it go and not judging them. A feminist has to have a basic empathy to accept differences and support equality.
Deny favors for position and gender:
Ladies first – we all have heard of this. Many modern women find this principle too backward. They do not want a favor irrespective of their position. For instance, you see an old or disabled person struggling in a queue but you still contest the logic of ladies first. Now that’s misuse of this generous principle that some people(men) devised to be kind to women who may need it. Same is applicable when you accept a promotion or an opportunity that you win just because you are a man even though you see a woman more qualified for it. A feminist does not demand mercy or favors. If denying opportunity is offensive, so is the default favoritism. Merit should always win over a reservation.
Not offended if a woman pays the bill:
Going Dutch on a date is perfectly fine but then there a handful men who feel emasculated if they are not asked to support sometimes. If a woman offers to pay the bill for you, be smart and just let her. Apart from being easy on your pocket, it will make her feel important and powerful. And for the men who feel the power in taking control all the time, the real power is in knowing when to let the other lead.
Value talent over gender:
There are stereotypes for any profession and for any role. Women are assumed to be good at housekeeping and childcare and men are assumed to be good at making money and heading the decisions at home or office. But having the open-mindedness to understand that every person is different and it is a certain trait in every human that makes them what they are, is Feminism. Let not gender define what a person can or cannot do.
You are open to a women’s opinion:
It could be a subjective observation, but I have often noticed that men forget to ask me what I like. Sometimes, it takes my interception to make them understand that I might have a choice or opinion in what we going to do or eat or buy. Same goes for the men in my family. The women I know, do ask me what I would like or think about something but men seem to conveniently forget. Of course, not all men but most whom I meet. My female friends seem to agree and share my feeling. If you are one of those men, please develop this awareness and become more open to a women’s opinion on big and small decisions that are to be made.
You help out in house chores and child care:
It is not a secret that too many women are overwhelmed with the pressures of taking care of the house chores and child care primarily on their own. Especially in India, where seeking help from maid for these activities is still considered a weakness and the In-laws continue to pressurize for skillful housekeeping and childcare. To the extent that many of them have to give up careers (often not out of choice) to make family happy. Here, the role of the man in the house is important to keep the sanity and the dignity of his women intact.
And if a man does these before even being told, he is certainly an inborn feminist. He gives importance to the freedom and career aspirations of his woman as much as his own. Even if she is not working, she is still only human and human beings need rest. Men in India grow up in a highly pampered environment where they are not trained to do their own work and focus singularly on bread-winning. Look around you now, the world is different. Learning skills for basic needs helps you be more independent too.
You ask for consent:
There is a vow in the Hindu wedding – “I will take your consent from you before taking any big decision or stepping out of the house for a long journey.” It is a very practical vow but unfortunately, it is a vow that only the wife has to take. The man is free to decide anything without his wife’s consent. These vows were written by men and many of the societal rules too. This attitude carries on in every walk of life. Consider the increasing instances of rape and molestation happening all over the world. Women are more openly coming forward and talking about their experiences and more openly taking names. But, really, the change has to happen in both the attacker and the victim. Asking for consent dignifies a woman and makes her respect you at the same time.
Equally enjoy women-centric movies:
Increasingly, movies are made on very diverse topics in the world today. The protagonists are not always white and male anymore. The growing little girls need a hero of their own. What are we teaching them? To be delicate like a princess trapped in a castle waiting for a prince to rescue her. Are we teaching her that women are born to raise kids and spend her life in the kitchen? Are we teaching young girls that women are not capable of making decisions? Not capable of defending themselves? Not capable of achieving greatness in sports or business or in any physical activity? We need female heroes for our next generation. Not only in movies but in life too.
So, let’s create the heroes together. Heroes that look beyond gender and are pro-equality. Because gender equality does not mean less power to men but in fact, it means equal opportunities to those qualified and equal respect, safety and dignity in society. How many of these points do you qualify into? Did I miss listing something? Eager to see your comments below.