Debunking myths revolving around feminism

Almost every human being, at least one with access to the modern world, has heard of the term “feminism”. As with any concept, there are multiple interpretations and understandings of this term too and there exist many myths and misinterpretations of the given term. Today, instead of starting with the correct interpretation, we’ll start with dispelling some myths about “feminism”.

So what are some of the most notable myths about feminism, one might ask? Well, let’s start with the most notorious one, shall we?

  • Feminism is “sexism” towards men:

One of the biggest myths against feminism is that it is a movement against men, that somehow it’s about hating men. Feminism is not a one-dimensional ideology, concerning only gender issues in general and females in particular. It is not about harming men. It is about gaining for women the advantages that men have, and also about gaining for men the advantages that women have (which are few but do exist, exemption from conscription being the most obvious example).

Social justice is not a zero-sum game. Empowering women does no harm to men except those men who only have their jobs because a better-qualified woman was unfairly excluded. It is these last men — the ones who aren’t good enough to do their jobs but got them anyway because women didn’t get the chance — who are the ones most adamantly opposed to feminism and claim that it’s anti-male. It’s not. It’s about creating equal opportunities. It’s about creating equity between all genders.

  • Feminism is non-inclusive of any gender other than female:

Feminism is not just a movement for women’s rights, it’s a movement for the rights of every individual human being who is a part of society, which includes people of varied genders and sexual orientations or romantic inclinations. Feminism is about creating a society where every human being, regardless of their gender, race or sexual orientation, is given equal respect and opportunities. It’s about getting together to fight the ill effects of the social construct of a patriarchal society.

  • Feminism is redundant in today’s world because it’s purpose has been achieved:

Given below is the current reality of gender disparity in just South Asia and specifically India:

India specific findings in 2021 report:

  1. Overall Ranking: India has fallen 28 places- it is now ranked 140 among 156 countries.
  2. Among Neighbours: It is now one of the worst performers in South Asia, trailing behind neighbours Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Myanmar.
  3. Political empowerment: India has declined on the political empowerment index as well by 13.5 percentage points.
  4. In the index of education attainment, India has been ranked at 114.
  5. India has fared the worst on “Health and Survival”, which includes the sex ratio, and economic participation of women.
  6. The estimated earned income of women in India is only one-fifth of men’s, which puts the country among the bottom 10 globally on this indicator.

The above findings clearly state that the purpose of feminism is far from achieved. Education and job opportunities are a far fetched dream for many women and non-male confirming genders, even in today’s modern society. Therefore, feminism is very much still needed to fight against the challenges of a patriarchal society.

  • Only women can be feminists:

Feminist is any person who believes that every human being should be given equal rights and duties regardless of gender, race or class. Any person who believes in social equity is a feminist. Therefore, men and people of varied other genders can also be feminists. In fact, the more the merrier, is the key to the feminist movement, because any movement’s success depends on its followers and their diversity so that it can help as many people as it conceivably could. So if women, men, transgender, gender fluid, non-binary, etc., all band together to fight for a systematic change in the way society functions then it would have far-reaching and long-lasting effects.

  • Feminists are bra-burning radicals who hate men and seek to create a matriarchal society:

Radical feminism is a perspective within the movement that calls for a drastic reordering of society to eradicate male supremacy. However, the label “radical” is more commonly used to discredit activists as angry and vindictive. In reality, while opinions differ about how best to achieve political, social, and economic equality, the core of feminism is rooted in the notion that people of all genders should be able to live in an inclusive and just world.

Feminists are not the same as misandrists. Misandrist is a person who is strongly prejudiced against men, whereas a feminist is a person who seeks to work in tandem with men and other genders to create a more equitable society. So, the entire premise of wanting a female dominant or a matriarchal society has no basis in the core belief system of feminism.

All of the above-mentioned myths are dispersed in society to give feminism a dirty name. Feminism is based on the belief that all genders should have equal rights and opportunities. Anyone can believe in and fight for equality, regardless of their sex, gender, race, sexuality, religion, or political leaning.

There’s also more than one way to be a feminist. A woman can wear high heels and be an engineer. A man can be a stay-at-home dad and enjoy both sports and fashion. The idea isn’t to reject traditional gender roles, but rather to promote a world where everyone is free to express themselves and just be themselves without any negative repercussions. It’s always been about having the freedom, the core right to choose one’s own path in life.

Now that we’ve gotten around of ‘what’s feminism not’, I think we can start asking the question ‘what is feminism all about?’ In our next blog, we shall go into detail about what feminism means and its various approaches.