Why I am a Feminist (and you should be too!)

Click on this map. Can you spot a single country that has gender equality? Note, how there isn’t even a 50-50 scale !

Not a single country that has gender equality!!

“Why are you a Feminist?” is actually not a question. 

It is a defense that some women are now having to make to a majority of women world-wide.  A majority which thinks that now that women have the vote (even if not in all countries yet) and can apply to most jobs (even if not all yet), Feminism’s time is out. 

So even as I will do my bit by explaining ‘why I am a feminist,’ I also need to state how strange I think it is that I (or for that matter anyone) even needs to explain. It’s weird because it is like an African-American having to explain why they are civil rights activists to other colored people who happily use the rights the civil rights activists have fought for, but hate being identified with the anti-racism movement!!!

So here goes:

 1) I am a feminist because I am an individual, who wants a gender-just society, and not just because I am a woman. Therefore, even if I was a man, I would still be a feminist, like many men are!  It is not about my gender, but about my ideology as an individual.  Just as the civil rights movement was supported by some white people who like the black civil rights activists wanted a racially just society.

2) I am a feminist because as a woman I want to live on and occupy this earth with the same freedom and nonchalance as men. I don’t know what planet the anti-feminist people live on, but more than 98% of the land and resources of the planet that I inhabit—called EARTH—by the U.N.’s 2012 estimate is owned and controlled by men!  Women own less then 2%.  For me, that is already a mind-blowing, unacceptable, and fundamental inequality. It’s the equivalent of slavery!

3) I am a feminist because women don’t have the most basic of human rights – the right to live safely, simply because they are female.  By 2030, India will have systematically eliminated 20% of women from its population, annihilated both before and after birth — only because they are female. And China will have similarly eliminated 20% of its female population.  Since these two countries together constitute 40% of the human population, the implication of this is global.  This is a genocide – the systematic and deliberate destruction of a targeted human group—on a scale that’s historically unprecedented.  Furthermore, there’s not one country in the world where women are not subjected to one or another form of violence, like rape, sex-trafficking, “domestic” violence, random femicides, lethal customs like FGM — because of their gender.  Women live in fear of their safety and lives, inside and outside their homes, everywhere, all the time, in a way that men never have to.  Yet, governments and international bodies don’t see this as a violation of the basic human rights of a group that constitutes one-half of the human race.  They just relegate it to the ‘domestic’ bin, along with cooking, cleaning and laundry!!

4) I am a feminist because I understand that I am a part of the social momentum, a continuum, for a just and humane society.  There are rights that I am fighting for today, like the fundamental right to life and safety for girls and women everywhere, which may not be realized in my lifetime.  But this I must do for the generations of girls and women to come, just as today as a woman there are certain rights I have, only because the women (and some men) before me fought for those rights for my generation.

And for the record: I think that every man and woman, who wants all the girls and women in his/her family and community to lead a life of dignity with every right and freedom that every human being is entitled to, needs to support the feminist movement worldwide.

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6 Comments

  1. Equality is something to strive for. Not something you can achieve. As long as women bear children, they are handicapped in comparison to men. The study you refer to can only display 100% equality between men and women, if women in all ways are better than men.
    You are a feminist, but your but your tactics are misguided. A mother with a small baby can not be equated with her ​​husband. Either the mother a madonna or a whore. Half of each is impossible.

    Reply
    • Rita Banerji

       /  August 27, 2012

      As far as human rights go — right to safety, education, economics, dignity, — it does not matter whether you are man, woman, child. It does not matter what your gender or size or age or religion or nationality is. Human rights are universal.

      Reply
  2. Hear, hear!

    And feminism is too important for women alone to champion. Patriarchy affects men too. Violence against women dehumanizes men too. It is in the interests of everyone to treat everyone else with dignity. That is the only way of ensuring that our own dignity gets validated.

    Reply
  3. Danny Boy

     /  August 29, 2012

    This argument is largely confused by the use of emotional issues and as such is undermined.
    It is necessary to detach facts and emotion to be able to present a cogent argument.
    Firstly, a genuine equality of opportunity for females in terms of education, finances and human rights will not eliminate crimes against females, such as rape and murder. (In fact young males are much more likely to be murdered than young females but that is not a fact that supports this feminist argument). There is no right to safety for many humans on this planet and that does not depend on their gender. The World is often a dangerous and unpleasant place.

    So, let us look at the facts:
    We should be working towards a human society where all members are given equal opportunity and there is no discrimination for gender or race. That does not mean that females will soon own 50% of the wealth and resources.
    Biological determinism plays a role in human behaviour and this should be recognised. Females bear and nurse children and this means that they need to take time out of careers if they want children. It is thus more difficult for a female to progress in a career compared to a male who starts at the same time and has similar skills (assuming she wants children). Furthermore, female and male brains have important differences and this should be recognised and utilised, rather than denied. That is not to say that there is no individual variation, giving overlap, but that there is a general pattern of a ‘female brain’ and a ‘male brain’.
    Human society has been patriarchal since we evolved (in fact all ape society is patriarchal). This has worked well because the males are larger and more aggressive so that they can acquire and protect territory. In a modern society this translates to the male ‘provider and protector’. (Nature also has matriarchal societies; big cats live in matriarchal societies where the females hold the territory and the males are invited in). I assert that it is unlikely – even with positive discrimination, that society would ever achieve a 50% split between male and female in top executive jobs, or in wealth ownership. However, this is not the same as saying that females should be denied opportunities or discriminated against. Equal opportunity is a laudable and realistic goal for modern society but do not judge the success of equal opportunity by simplistic measures of outcomes.

    It is tragic that some cultures regard a female child as expendable and undesirable, but this is actually a feature of economic and cultural pressures. It will be useless to fight against this tragic loss of life by raising the issue of feminism. These societies need a much more radical change before the nuances of feminism can be applied.

    It is important to recognise that males are murdered, beaten and raped too. In fact males are much more likely to be victims of violent crime than females. So a ‘feminist’ society will not automatically be a safe society. A crime against a person is not a crime against the sex of the person.

    I support a society the gives (and protects) equal opportunity to all. I support a society that deals with crime against the person as an individual.

    Reply
  4. silver

     /  October 4, 2012

    The Taliban, an extremist militia, seized control first of Herat (1994) and then Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, on September 27, 1996 and violently plunged Afghanistan into a brutal state of totalitarian dictatorship and gender apartheid in which women and girls were stripped of their basic human rights.

    Reply
  5. Tom

     /  January 18, 2014

    I am for gender equality largely because of two reasons, first if you have bright people equally distributed among women and men then having one group get all position and power actually weakens your soceity because some of the mediocre persons will get into position which they would not of it is merit based. Secondly on a personal level: I like challenge and to be in a soceity where the women are subjugated and cannot live to their full potential is exceedingly boring to me. The country that I was born in does not exist anymore as it was consumed by our fellow countrymen from the west and while I certainly do not miss the oppression and dictatorship from back then I do in fact miss the higher gender equality. I could not experience all the benefits as I was too young then but if you want to get the idea what gender equality can bring as positive side effects I recommend to search in youtube for: “do communist have better sex”. Okay its not an scientific article as it is intended to serve a broad public but its funny and you get the idea. And last but not least a riposte to Danny Boy for the male vs. female brains: I personally believe thats an illusion generated by upbringing. Yes, here in Germany you have abysmal low rates of women studying technical subjects but is that because the female brain is not capable of doing so or because the girls where told all their infancy that they cannot do that and that their qualities are somewhere else? So social conditioning rather than biologistic wiring. Two observations to support my thesis: when I was in India in March last year I had the honor to give lectures in front of Engineering classes of two colleges in Bengaluru. Having myself studied among 90% men I was surprised, no actually shocked to see that a whopping 50-60% of the engineering students in my lecture class where girls. I was told by my friends that these girls give the boys quite a run for their money, meaning they compete for beeing first in class and often win. I would postulate that this variation from European “normal” would exceed all possible explanations of individual variation. Second example is a personal one: during my studies (engineering) I had to do lots and lots of mathematics, so my brain was trained to do that. When I did in fact do a intelligence test 12 years ago I had full points in all the calculations, 3D object recognition and other “male” thinking qualities. After finishing my Master in 2006 I worked 5 years in politics after which I redid the same / similar tests and now my mathematical skills really sucked. I mean something like IQ80-90 for these subtasks, however all tests regarding, language, social/emotions and other “femal” thinking qualities the aptitude was off the charts. I was able to solve these tasks with 100% success in 1/3 of the time available, something that was unthinkable 5 years earlier. Meaning that if you are motivated correctly your brain is actually very plastic to adapt to the needs at hand. If “survival” means to solve n-dimensional integrals in no-time, it will do and if later analysing language, faces and emotions to guess who is an enemy and who not, it will do that too.

    Reply

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