I have been tagged (by Cris) to write on what feminism is to me. Well, ok. Here we go. First of all, I do not like the term feminism. It has too many negative connotations, too much baggage and too much snobbery associated with it. Many people seem to think that feminism means man-hating. Or man-bashing. Sorry, but I do not agree. So, to avoid all that historic and cultural baggage associated with the term, I will try and not use the term.
To put it simply, feminism to me, is the notion that women must be as free as men to do what they want to. Note that I have deliberately used the phrase "as free as men". I do recognise that as human beings, we are all bound by society, by rules and by traditions. But, if something is morally and ethically wrong for a woman, it must necessarily be so for a man too. Take for example, drinking and smoking. If it is socially unacceptable for a woman to smoke, it must necessarily be so for men too. What I cannot tolerate, is mothers defending their drunk, and totally brainless sons by saying they are men. Trust me, it happens. My friend's husband comes home drunk every night. His mother defends him thus, "He is a man. He must be having a million problems in office. So, he drinks to relax. You have no business asking him to stop." This violates my innate sense of justice. If the mother's justification must be accepted, then the daughter-in-law must be permitted to come home drunk after a long day's work too. Ok? Got it?
Also, being a feminist does not mean doing things like a man. I am not a man. I cannot behave like one. I will not keep my nails dirty, my underarms unshaven and my eyebrows looking like a forest simply because men do have to wax, pedicure or thread. This is ridiculous. I have heard many self-proclaimed feminist protest against the feminine stereotype of beautiful, smooth legs and shaped eyebrows. Excuse me, but I love to do all that and more. It makes me feel feminine. I refuse to change for some deluded notion of feminism. I am a woman, and I would like to feel like one. This includes having regular periods (and no, periods can never be happy), waxing, getting facials, going shopping and buying footwear. I love all of those and I am not planning to stop any time soon.
Another difference of opinion I have had often with feminists, is on the question of parenting. I admit that men have an equal responsibility towards their children. But, I still believe that a mother's caress and care is irreplaceable. I believe that nobody can do a better job than mom in caring for the babies. If it means that my career takes a back seat, so be it. It is for my children. My career can wait. I simply do not agree with some feminists equating stay-at-home moms with prisoners. Many do it because they care. I would.
Feminism means not being forced to do, or not do, certain things simply because we were born women. It means having the right to take decisions that will affect us without external interference. It means that as a girl, I must be treated exactly the same as my male siblings or cousins. It means being respected as an individual, cherished as a daughter, pampered as a sister and loved as a wife/girlfriend or mother. Is that too much to ask for?
Nita - Expecting a balanced opinion on things. :-)
Christina and Deepan - Very occasional bloggers. But have a blog dedicated to feminism. Would like to hear both.
Roop - Runs a blog against female foeticide. Feminism is her pet subject.
Indian Homemaker - Would love to hear her reaction on the stay-at-home mom bit. :-P