When I am feeling down or am at a low point in my emotional journey and I hear people tell me to ‘man up’, I frustratingly want to scream out that do I really need to? If I need to be successful or if I want to get what I need in life, do I really need to so-called, develop a spine, chin up and be a man? Do these cliched terms really hold weightage to be able to dive into a man’s world? I can still feel shifting of gears, winding of clock hands when I am sitting in a group and the word ‘feminist’ or concept of feminism arise! Out of nowhere there is a sense of scepticism when the conversation proceeds in that direction. I wonder why the word is made to be stayed aloof of. Why is it so that even after so much of social, developmental changes around, whenever we talk about feminism, the stereotypes start emerging? What exactly is feminism for us? What kind of people do we define as feminists? What kind of geographical boundaries do they define? What culture do they project and what identity do they have according to the rest? All these questions and many more have numerous answers and charge varied form of energies when talked upon. For many of us, the term till date is a topic to arise controversies and perhaps bake our own breads in the resulting heat. For others it a dangerous area where once one enters becomes vicious circle from where it is difficult to come out. Overall, a simple idea of mutual respect under the term has been converted into a topic of so many discussions and national and international chaos and controversies that the core has deviated over the period for most of the people venturing into the field. So, when someone call the other, feminist in today’s chaotic times, or when the other proclaim self to be a feminist, an unknown aura of distaste and sectionalising the person appears for the meaning of ‘feminism’ has been distorted for reasons known best to most of us. In fact, in present times, it becomes almost troublesome to explain or convers over the ideas of feminism without resulting in being judged as a person of prejudice or extreme negative feelings regarding people of any sexual orientation.
Where traditionally, the gender stereotypes used to explain men to be species of power, control, and masculinity, while women were the supporters, feminine, and carrier of femininity that shows their weakness and dependence for support from their male counterpart. With time these boundaries have softened to greater extent and women have made their existence shown and appreciated to a certain extent in the so called male dominant society. However, in doing so we may see them loosing to themselves only. They in a way win some but at the same time loose to self to a certain extent. Now I am not criticising any view, method, or context of feminism at hand because being a part of it I realise the difficulties face by each one of us at every small step. So, demeaning any method to gain equality in not my intent. However, I believe strongly in trying to make reach that invisible balance that may help our fight to gain equality and genuine respect for other sexes by normalising the term. There is a great need to generalise it for normal everyday life not to box or categorise feminism into any sort of elite theoretical idea if we need it to stay focussed and in focus of its initial aim.
One of the major reasons we end up being judged overusing the term feminist or feminism is because we tend to unconsciously masculinise the word and its essence. For instance, in order to be successful for a woman in “man’s world”, she has to be hard, objective border lining ruthlessness and not being emotional self. That is what we mostly see in media be it television, films, or views of all sexes in general. We associate the identity of feminists according to a particular physical appearance, psychological though process of being emotionless, mental capability of detaching with our core which is by nature soft, and caring. Often, we have been told or hinted that to break into the male dominant world or to be successful in life we as women need to in a way become them. And we readily, perhaps happily do so. But while doing the same we forget to realise that this is not the crux of feminism. The change of identity is not what we need to be a feminist. What we need is our acceptance as we are, with the package that we bring in to write our own success story and not to become some other successful being. We can wear whatever we like, look however we want, behave or feminine, emotional, empathetic self (without guilt), if we want and yet be flag-bearers of concept of feminism, loud and proud! We need not be a hardcore activist, although we need to respect those who are. Negative stereotypes that are built around those who radicalise the whole idea of feminism need to shatter with loud noise so that there is a clear picture for those who has up till now not realised the real reason and power of the word ‘feminism’. The gap between women or anyone who claim to be feminist and those who do not agree with the methods taken by the former need to lessen because the aim for all of us need to coincide and live harmoniously in co-existence with each other respectfully.
So, when we see a tough woman at a senior position in official capacity on or off-screen, we need not identify with it in real life to project our affirmation with feminism. We need to synthesize that this projection of a particular character in a certain behavioural capacity is just individualistic. We cannot generalise and normalise this generalization. We need to absorb the fact that losing our natural instincts or acquiring the characteristics that are not natural to use will not make us successful enough, strong enough or ‘man enough’. How about if we try to remember and believe that to be a feminist or a believer in feminism a woman does not really need to ‘man up’!