Lately, Emma Watson's HeForShe has surfaced controversy over the
feminist movement. Well, at least I find it to be controversial
because I've seen scores of people arguing on online forums and blog
comment pages filled with disputes over the topic of feminism. I'm not
the most educated or most proficient speaker on this issue(this is my
excuse for the great lack of quoting and statistics in this thing),
but this is my stance and I hope no one loads me with haterade for the
opinions I'm going to express.
I don't understand a couple of things.
One of these things is the need for anger over this topic. I know that
with every "big" issue, people tend to get a little flustered when
discussing it, especially if the topic at hand is debatable. But to
the extent of name-calling? Derogatory comments? I might be saying
this from an idealistic perspective, but isn't the whole point of
having these discussions to understand each other's opinions? Maybe
I've been living in the rose-tinted bubble that school has encompassed
me in, in the world where as much as possible, civility is practiced
and decorum is enforced. Assuming that everyone was educated courtesy
and kindness at least in kindergarten, I don't see why we can't
I may believe in Feminism, but I am not a man-hater. And I will
attempt to respect the opinions of those women who've expressed
themselves against feminism. That is on them. I may disagree, but they
live in their own perspectives.
I believe that the root of all the conflict over feminism is the fact
that people interpret and experience the ideology differently. As Emma
Watson declared in her HeForShe speech, people have associated the
word with man hating.
My take on feminism is this: Feminism is a fight for gender equality.
It is a belief that women should have the same opportunities as men.
It's not about treating women exactly the same way that men are
treated because that is illogical. Men and women are not the same,
biologically and psychologically.
So what's Feminism about? In fact, what is any movement about?
I've always believed that movements were about something much bigger
than ourselves. So it leads me to the next thing that I don't
understand: of non-followers of the feminist ideology saying "shut up
feminists, you don't experience it, you don't understand it, you don't
know what you're saying". They've also spoken, at length, on how most
people who support this movement tend to do so in the fashion of
victimizing themselves. "Pity party" if you will to gain attention and
recognition from a greater community. But do we really have to be
victims of a certain terror ourselves before we try standing up
against it? What happened to deterrence? Prevention? What happened to
standing up for other people? For the right thing?
In primary school, I was enlightened by organizations such as UNICEF
and WHO which spread awareness of lack of education and starvation
going on in other countries: countries which were barely an hour or
two away, in the same continent I'm in. I was so inspired to be an
activist because I didn't think it was fair that I was lucky enough to
be able to eat well and read and write while others weren't. My mind
set was simple, I wanted other kids to be able to read the nice books
that people wrote too.
In secondary school, our teachers talked about the 2013 Delhi Rape
case. I'm in a girls' school but they never talked about it singularly
from the perspective of a woman. They talked about Malala. They talked
about social inequality. And when they spoke, I wanted to be a
feminist because I wanted to help these women who didn't get the same
opportunities that I have. The opportunity to study, to speak my own
mind, to be able to have fun and be myself without fear of any stigma
from my family or society.
Was I supposed to have been beaten and raped in primary school so that
I have a right to want to fight for these women? Was I supposed to
have been forced into an arranged marriage in sec1 before I decided
that I want to be able to study and have friends and that other girls
should get the chance to do that too?
My image of an ideal feminist in primary school was basically a
suffragette -- a woman who supported the women's liberation front and
did extreme things to prove her point. I wanted to go on rallies so
that women in 3rd world countries would stop getting killed because
they fell in love with a so-called "wrong man". I wanted to march and
hold up banners so that girls in the Middle East would be allowed a
way to break away from the violence of the Taliban so they could go to
school too. I guess I'm just another "hypocritical uneducated
I never considered that women get paid less (in fact I thought we got
paid extra when we got pregnant because we took on an extra job of
making a life happen). I've been enlightened since that employees who
need maternity leave have actually been laid off as "liabilities" to
companies. This is my 1st world localized encounter with sexism,
leading me to believe that we need feminism here too. This is just my
wake up call. There's the sexual harassment cases that've been
reported in the local papers and molestation cases that end up in the
It's true, hardly anyone condemns females who do the molesting or
raping. Most of the time they're not even heard of. Women who abuse
other women get off with being called "bitches" or hardly anything at
all sometimes, while men get rained on with verbal abuse when they
something that is in the slightest way sexist. I'm not saying any of
these are right. But I am saying the people who're trying to promote
feminism the most are the ones who're tearing it down. It might not be
a conscious decision, and we're a human movement established for the
betterment of humanity so I apologize if our structure isn't
water-tight or infallible. Like everything in this Earth, we're work
in progress. But that doesn't mean we should stop working to promote
There are still things on this Earth which women are more inclined to
do. It's part of who we are as women, and it's part of men as men to
not like it. Sure there's some exceptions, but it doesn't always mean
that people are being sexist by targeting make-up or facial products
to women. We're just more concerned about that than some/most men tend
So now we've established that gender inequality exists. Now what?
Well, I for one don't believe we should start moving towards
finger-pointing. Movements aren't about sitting down and ranting about
who's to blame for this problem in the first place. They're about
"taking up arms" humanely, and trying to stop the problem from both
persisting and escalating. Segregation and bias happen, but there's no
specific race or gender we can blame. Simply because of the fact that
it was allowed to flourish to the extent that it's seen a big problem
now. All we can do is actively work towards stopping it.
I acknowledge that by persisting to eradicate this form inequality
would begin to contradict some of the fundamental principles of some
cultures and religions. This leads now to the conflict between
modernity and tradition. But if head-hunting and cannibalism managed
to be changed as something "wrong", I suppose gender bias can become
wrong too in the long run? This might be the equivalent of pulling the
rug from under their feet, but I honestly believe that fighting for
gender equality is for the greater good. I know we can't force this on
any culture, but I really do hope the message gradually begins to work
and that no more women or men have to suffer for this.
To get to this, feminists need to acknowledge too that woman-kind
(especially those of us in 1st world countries) needs to earn this
respect. To get to gender equality, it takes both hands to clap. Women
need to let men know that they can be respected. We want to not get
raped or sexually harassed? Then stop acting like you want sexual
attention. I'm not saying women should dress in shrouds, or that we
should all be nuns, or that skirts should be banned from the face of
the Earth, but a little dignity in our dress would hardly kill anyone.
If we don't parade around as objects to be sexualized, we won't be
Of course educating men that they can be secure in vulnerability
applies too. That there is no such thing as being inferior for being
sensitive to certain things. But on another level, we need to treat
both genders to respect each other. Men can't respect Women if we
can't show that we can be respected and that we can respect them in
turn. Women can't respect Men if they keep portraying themselves as
the source of all the man-hate, the disrespectful and unrespectable. It
takes two hands to clap.
Ultimately, I'm trying to say that I want to be able to live in a
world where a girl not being able to study because of poverty is next
to unheard of because that is simply doesn't exist. I want to be able
to say that every woman in the world doesn't have to be afraid about
paying the bills because she was sacked for needing to take maternity
leave. I want to say that women don't need to be afraid of being raped
or molested when they go out at night or by themselves.
Most of what I've said is mainly applicable to 1st world countries
more accepting of woman-kind in the work force and in society. Maybe,
one day, in the societies of 3rd world countries will let their women
help them to move to better, to greater.
Feminism has 2 sides. There is the vindictive, man-hating,
culture-crushing front. And there is the front that fights for gender
equality and for mutual respect. I'm not denying the nasty-sounding
side, because that's like denying the innate evil within our humanity.
There's always gonna be a good and bad side. But it's the side we
choose to see and we choose to promote and try to advocate that really
fully matters. It's the side that we try to fight for. Who knows? If
secularism becomes a household name, something as mundane and as
average as a speck of dust, maybe we can drop culture-crushing from
the cons of feminism.
Listening to: Try by Nelly Furtado
Reading: Utopia by Thomas Moore
Watching: Star WhoLock duh?
Playing: with this weird grey thing that fell outta my ears
Eating: hahaha prom\'s in 3 weeks are you kidding me?
Drinking: red bull, coffee, caffeine me