I remember the first time my mother showed me a young peepal tree, a plant really; it couldn’t have had more than ten young leaves. The plant had sprouted up on the roof of a mangy abandoned temporary brick shelter in an empty site. My mother then drew my attention to the roots of the plant. I couldn’t believe my eyes. The thin slender plant has heavy roots the size of my fists, some even thicker. They spread all across the roof of the brick structure, snaking towards the ground. Nothing less than a small axe, a lot of sweat and time, could get that plant out of the ground.
Something that looked so fragile and perishable had such a powerful deep-rooted hold onto life, into reality. It was deceptively strong.
The last few days, I’ve been spotting a lot of these peepal saplings – on sidewalks, in cracked walls, at the edge of road dividers.
Progress is like that. It isn’t seen in a lot of places. Where it is, it doesn’t have a large physical presence. But its roots go deep and it’s nearly impossible to remove or reverse.
Feminism is like that.
It’s not strongly seen in many places, but its roots run deep, and it pops up in various unexpected places.
You can try to tear it out. You can try to kill it. But it’s not going anywhere. It’s not about if we will achieve gender equality, but when we will achieve gender equality. It seems impossible now, but women are out there, doing things they wouldn’t have to allowed to just 50 years ago! Millions of men and women are fighting for female rights, and it’s working.
Feminism is inevitable.
There are many people out there who don’t like the word feminism. The word ‘feminism’ has become unpopular and to identify as feminist has become insulting.
I asked people who don’t identify as feminist why they don’t. Some said that feminists are man-haters. Some said that the word ‘feminist’ gives too much importance to the females and we should find a more neutral term. Some say that feminism is good, but that feminists are too aggressive and negative, so they don’t choose to identify as feminist.
To them, I say fuck you.
By saying feminists are ‘man-haters’, you are immediately implying that feminists are just females who hate men. You are ignoring the contribution of millions of men who identify as feminist. And contrary to that, unfortunately, there are millions of women out there who are against the whole movement.
Feminist does not equate to female.
And no, we do not want a general neutral term.
For thousands of years, women have been treated as lesser beings than men. It’s not an opinion. It’s a fact. It’s high time we acknowledge and accept that women were and still are treated harshly and as inferior to men by the society.
Ever heard of Margaret Ann Bulkley? She was a British woman whose only hope to get into medical school was to disguise herself as a man. She lived for over 50 years disguised as Dr James Barry, a pioneer in medicine. It was only when she died in 1865 that her secret was exposed after 46 years of service as an army medical officer. She would have never been allowed to or even considered able to practice medicine as a woman. It’s fact, not speculation.
And to those people who don’t have a problem with feminism, but feminists, I ask them this. So, you are willing to reject the movement as a whole because you did not like the methods of a few handful of people?
There is no ‘on-the-fence’ phenomenon with feminism. Either you want equal rights for women or you don’t. No reasons or justifications need be made.
Social media creates a lot of flash and din, but that is no excuse to lose sight of or misinterpret the actual goal.
This fight isn’t just for people like us. Most of us are literate, have an opportunity for higher education and have no need to be married off as soon as we hit puberty. We are privileged.
There are women out there, with no control over their life or body, no opportunity for education and no freedom to make decisions for themselves. There are little girls getting married away as soon as their puberty hits and they are deemed to be able to produce children. Thousands of children, both boys and girls, get sold into sex slavery every day.
Just because we cannot see them doesn’t mean that they don’t exist.
They do. And they are just as much as important and as human as you or I. They matter. It is our responsibility to fight for them.
Women have been breaking social barriers significantly in the last 100 years of the modern world. They fought so that I could have the opportunities I do today. Like them, I too will fight to get more equal opportunities for women, making sure its roots reach even the isolated inaccessible areas of the world.
They matter to me. I care about them. So do millions of people out there. If you do too, then you need to get rid of petty social anti-feminist stigma and call yourself a feminist with pride, knowing that you are trying to change people’s lives for the better.
If you think feminists are whiny, man-hating women who have started this whole movement just to seek attention, then you are a part of the problem. And you’re going to lose.
History is proof that development is a slow but sure thing.
The female empowerment and gender equality goal of the feminist movement will succeed one day.
The question just remains, which side of history are you on?
Consider your answer carefully. Because history has its eyes on you.