Feminism OR 'Toxism: Understanding the Phenomenon

By Amreen Shaikh

Are you a feminist? When asked this question, some may readily answer “Yes,” while others may grimace and deny any involvement with that “man-hating” movement. Feminism is a highly debated and controversial topic in a society where trends matter more than anything else. We live in a chaotic, half or misinformed society where actions defy thoughts and ideas. Something which started as a movement to ensure equality, freedom and liberation to empower women, has been gradually shifting into a hoax shouting for dominance, portraying disrespect and unnecessary hate towards men, asking for privileges along with equality, posting half nudes and burning bras and giving a gender-biased angle to everything. As a woman, I believe feminism stands for a society in which social gender roles overlap: Both men and women are supposed to be modest, tender, and concerned with the quality of life. Misunderstandings about feminism are all over the world in it's the dominant form. While people may adhere to politics, many are hesitant to adopt a feminist identity; a phenomenon known as the Feminist Paradox. All because of the phenomenon of turning "feminists" to "feminazis". If as a woman I demand equal pay to work on a certain post, I should also have the audacity to face all the challenges that particular designation poses irrespective of my gender and not ask for any unnecessary privilege. That is what the notion of feminism in its true form preaches and not to pull down the opposite gender to show superiority. What is needed is to salve the painting of feminism to mend the broken idea of the concept from the society.

There was a time when feminism was beneficial beyond words could explain because of how positively it had impacted in breaking the shackles women faced in the old times. Feminism got it right that women have been oppressed throughout pretty much all of civilized human history, in pretty much every culture and society, and there’s a lot of oppression that carries on in various forms in various parts today as well. Feminism also got it right that despite biological differences, a huge section of men grows up in an environment of toxic masculinity that is not only unhealthy for women but men as well. For that to change, men since the beginning need to be taught to respect and love everyone irrespective of their gender, creed, ethnicity, colour etc. Boys need to be showed that occasional vulnerability or crying isn't the sign of weakness and it's okay to let out their emotions. They also need to be taught how to balance their emotions and never let them out in a negative way so as not to hurt anyone. But unfortunately, the idea of feminism failed to draw any worthy repercussions in modern society owing to many reasons. With time it changed into an institution which wherever looked, only found constant oppression, portrayed masculinity as inherently violent and installed hate regarding men unnecessarily. As the comedian George Carlin once put it: “I love individuals. I hate groups of people. I hate a group of people with a ‘common purpose’. Because pretty soon they have little hats. And armbands. And fight songs. And a list of people they’re going to visit at 3 am. So, I dislike and despise groups of people. But I love individuals.” Currently, feminism has taken a form exactly such. Can this be undone? Can the idea of pseudo feminism and false conception be changed? Absolutely. The perception of feminism needs to change. One misperception is that third-wave feminists do not appreciate what has already been accomplished within the movement. I don't agree with this. I think politically we're in a time of backlash that's dangerous for minorities in general and women. But that doesn't mean that young feminists aren't trying to figure out new ways to address these challenges. We should value the groundwork the second-wave feminists laid for us and also become innovative and flexible to move in a direction that's helpful for all women, regardless of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation and so forth. We need to learn that feminism isn't about making women strong because she creates life, she's already stronger than one can imagine. It's about the perception of that very strength and respecting it.

Amreen Shaikh is a student of English Literature at St. Francis De Sales College, Nagpur

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