Of Women, Men, and all things Equal

I hope you’re not one of those feminists!

These words were said to me by a friend, when I was at his place, getting reacquainted. The first thought that came to my mind was –

Why? What’s wrong with being a feminist?

I chose to laugh and say ‘Yeah, I guess I am.’ He continued – ‘I don’t like these feminists. They’re always forcing their opinions on others, and going on pointless marches and rallies.’

‘I like my women to be submissive… I don’t like it when they ask too many questions, or think too much, or if they’re too smart. I like them sweet, and submissive.’

I think you need to visit the salon.

Yeah I know. My hair’s lost shape. I need to get a good cut.

No, I meant, you have hair growing everywhere else. It’s disgusting.

– An excerpt from a tea-time conversation with a male colleague.

The Happy Pedestrian
Cosima’s Girls Who Get Ready

I was returning home one night, and I was stalked throughout my commute by a man in a red shirt and black trousers, wearing silver earrings. He was riding a moped, and wore no helmet. He followed me to my building, and now knows where I live. Lucky for me, I was saved that night by my four loyal knights.

What was I doing out so late?

That is nobody’s business

What was I wearing?

How is that relevant?

Was I drunk?

This matters because…?

Why wasn’t I accompanied by a male member?

For starters, I don’t need anybody to accompany me. Secondly, I kinda was accompanied… by the stalker.

I am well educated. I work a full-time job. I am a woman.

My sibling is well educated, and works a full-time job. He is a man.

Well-wishers of the family ask him about his work, his career plans, his passions and dreams.

Well-wishers of the family ask me if I’ve started looking out for alliances, if I know how many children I want to have, why my skin is so tan, and if I know that I won’t be allowed to stay out late once I’m married.

The Happy Pedestrian
Art by Rupambika

F**k this!

Don’t say that.

Don’t say what?

Don’t swear. It’s not nice when women swear. I don’t like it.

I am a free-thinking, strong-willed, and independent person, with a promising future, and a desire to do a lot of good in the world.

I also have a uterus.

Just this, is used to peg me as frail, delicate, with a future that is limited to being a wife and a mother. I am expected to shave my pits raw, and wax every part of my body down to the last pore, so that I fit into a warped definition of what is it to be a woman, glorified by generations of male dominance and female submission.

I am not here to wave a flag and say ‘Men are pigs’, simply because they aren’t. They are whole and vulnerable, with perfection and flaws, just like women. I am also not here to shout from rooftops – ‘Women are better’, simply because we are not. We are as good, and as bad, as men.

We are equal. We have choices. We have the right to know that we have choices, and we have a right to choose what we want. If my friend wants a submissive woman, and the woman who is with him is submissive, I guess that’s good. However, it is great if this woman is submissive by her choice – and not by his; it’s because she wants to, not because she has to. It is great if she knows that she has a choice, and she can choose to be either submissive, or dominant, or neither; it is HER choice.

That is feminism to me.

Feminism is, knowing we have a choice between shaving and not shaving, and choosing what we like to do. It is, knowing that we have the right to equal pay, and making sure that we get it. It is, knowing that we have a choice between getting married and staying single. It is, knowing that motherhood is a dream to some, a passable experience to others, and respecting one’s choice to have or to not have babies. It is, respecting a woman’s ‘no’ as her choice, and accepting it, instead of translating it to ‘I need to pursue further’, or worse, saying ‘She friend-zoned me.

It is, knowing that we have the choice to wear what we want to, and exercising that choice. It is, respecting a woman who chooses to stay at home to look after herself and her family, and also respecting a woman who chooses to work to look after herself and her family. It is, treating women as more than just a mass of breasts, butts, and baby-bearing hips.

The Happy Pedestrian
milk and honey by Rupi Kaur

Feminism is not the forcing of one’s opinion on another, or expecting everyone to toe in with what one considers is right or wrong. Feminism is empowering women and men, to the awakening that we are equal, and we all have a choice.

Feminism is the breaking of gender stereotypes, letting X and Y be alphabets, and not codes of conduct.

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