Feminism, They Say



The Oxford English Dictionary states that Feminism is “The advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes”. Quite a simple idea. So, a Feminist believes that girls in poorer countries should go to school, and would be obviously opposed to those music videos that consist of, for ex., three minutes of boob-shots. And she/he/they work towards such a society. In short, Feminism is good, common sense.

On the other hand, the portmanteau Feminazi, popularized by Rush Limbaugh in the 1990s is used to describe “an extreme or militant feminist”. Wikipedia further goes on the clarify that “the term is pejoratively used in popular culture to describe either feminists who are perceived as extreme or radical, women who are perceived to seek superiority over men…”. The sad truth is Feminazism is rapidly replacing Feminism in the popular quotidian domain, and is being mistaken to be what Feminism stands for.

Feminazis are not feminists. Feminists believe in equal rights for all, Feminazis just make us look stupid. Feminazis believe that all men are idiots, wearing a bra is a symbol of oppression (personally I find bras to be quite comfortable), shaving our legs is apparently giving into male pressure to be attractive, snowmen must be called “snowpeople” and so on. Like patriarchy essentialises women, Feminazism too takes away the choice of personal preference from us and essentialises men into a herd of potential rapists and molesters. Ultimately, the claim that feminazis are apparently against sexism makes them huge hypocrites.

The Indian Govt. has passed quite a few legislations to ensure that women receive the fastest and surest justice in cases of any crime perpetrated against them. But recent surveys show that a very alarming percentage of dowry and rape cases filed are false; they are filed by women trying to avenge some personal beef. The problem with feminazis is that they are always already scorned by proxy, and hell hath no fury as a woman scorned. Feminazism, as the name aptly alludes, almost takes on the role of a mindless dictator with a vendetta against men.

The Sexual Harassment Act, made effective on April 23, 2013, is in support of women. However, this has opened up a freeway for a certain section of women who want to take undue advantage of the law. I would like to cite the recent Jasleen Kaur incident that took the national media by storm a few weeks back. The story was turned on its head when newer evidence came into light which made it quite apparent that the case was possibly quite the opposite. Analyzing the implications of the case is not to take side of any specific party, but to bring into attention that such an incident can act as an eye-opener where the law might have been taken for a ride.

Whether Jasleen’s allegation is right or not, it is certain that the way the incident was handled was definitely wrong. The sensitivity of such cases is overturned by their immediate sensationalism. Of all the actions taken, flashing the alleged criminal’s face all over the media should have been of least concern to her when the plethora of legal measures available would have easily sufficed. In any case, even the victim has the right to self-obscuration, not to have their face splashed all over TV and computer screens. Even before any formal investigation was conducted and any verdict passed, all the media houses started slamming the alleged, publicly shaming him by labeling him as a ‘pervert’ and launching hate campaigns against him.

Mass media, as an all-pervasive construct, should act as the beacon of objective reportage that bridges the gap between the individual and his surroundings, instead it has come down to mobilizing shaming and lynch campaigns without the slightest hint of proof. The media’s proactivity in mobilizing mass-suppport against Jessica Lal’s murderer has justly been appreciated by the society. But the media should still desist from shaming a person on a mere conjectural basis.

The Jasleen Kaur case casts aspersions on not just our gender, but the concept of women empowerment in general too. It widens the gap of mistrust between men and women, and also between women. Such acts hinder the progress of equality a considerable amount. Even innocent women would live under the fear of being called frauds the next time they actually decide to speak up on a molestation incident.

And as far as the laws of the land are concerned, if they are unjustly tilted to one side, men run the risk of being victimized by preying women. The current laws and their handlings give too much power to women under the good intention of stopping sexual harassment. Understandably, it might stop a hundred people from harassing women, but it remains possible that five innocent people might fall prey to a biased legislation. The system must be held accountable for even one victimised innocent, even if it prevents a hundred criminals.

And ultimately, it is a strangely patriarchal habit to conveniently place women in the position of victims. Such habits keep gender inequality intact. This is why we need to be feminists and not feminazis, because we need to recognise the fact that men and women are equal. Despite the heinous crimes perpetrated against them, women are not by the mere virtue of existence victims. Patriarchy must now fall, and with its dying breath, it must grant women the capability of evil. Women must be individuals and stop becoming their gender.

– Arpita Sinha

Arpita Sinha