I love to work for women, but I am not a feminist- New Word that scares women

Posted December 3, 2010 from Sweden

Hi my dear friends,

I have something interesting to share with all of you. I was having an informative and interesting conversation about the new project we are working on for women at the university, with a couple of my friends during lunch time. One of my friends Pali said about her interest in working for women in her community and elaborated more on the aspiration she has for working for women. Even though her commitment and interest would have become significant to me there, her final utterance on feminism made a mockery to me of all her claims. “I am so interested in doing something for the women in my community; In fact, I am currently involved in an organization that works for women…however, I am not a radical feminist. I like to work for women…”. This phrase hurt me so much that I decided to speak to her after our discussion on what she meant about those words. She and I had a heated argument on this couple of words and later she told me that she realized the gravity of her statements and promised me to call herself one out of fear next time she introduces herself. ( She was unable to point out any valid reasons as to why she uttered those words, the word radical was something that just came out of her system for no valid reasons) I sometimes realize why we ourselves being women tend to censor ourselves from using words as feminism, Some women even misuse words even without knowing what it stands for and can carry various interpretations. It is the approach that defines which type of a feminist we are and cannot decide at one satnce even if someone calls herself one that she belong to x group. Whenever we have to introduce our commitment towards women or talk about their issues, we have a sense of saying… “I am a feminist..but” ..Why is this hesitation to directly imply what you are concerned about? People tend to look at feminism as a bad thing that makes you “less” of a woman, less feminine. I haven’t chopped off my hair, I’m in a heterosexual relationship, I don’t get involve d in rallies. Most importantly, I don’t hate men; does that make me any less of a feminist? There are women whoa re extremists and would call themselves a radical one. However, each woman has the effect on feminism depending on the bitter experiences she has dealt with her communities. Back home in Sri Lanka, I met a woman at a refugee camp who at present works for a women’s organization actively. She calls herself a radical feminist., depite that the concept is considered to be old today. She was sexually assaulted by a group of army soldiers, leaving her in pregnancy, killing her husband. what’s worst raping her elder daughter. How would she react to issues concering women here? Even then it is difficult to over generalize by saying that you need to go through some bitter experience to address issues critically. It could be also that some women become feminists eventually after being a part of a woman’s family, initaives fro a long period of time. There are women who are empowered for no reason to become feminists and just out of interest. It is upto you to become one or not. But you need to think if you being a woman does not want to take the initative to give recognition to your role, how can you expect others to bring change. You don’t have to divide you into categories by saying that I am a radical cultural feminists or liberetarian one or not. instead you should be supportive of others efforts, and appreciate the commitment others have for women. Even then it is not right for us to crticize them for who they are , for the motives that strive them to indulge in certain actions that; for some could be a sort of a mockery.

Radical feminists have helped in numerous ways to bring about many women’s rights such as contraceptives, legalizing abortion and in-vitro fertilization. (Eg: Especially rising agaisnt feticides in India). They have also gained a lot of support and respect from the GLBT movements, in helping to improve the livlihoods of homosexuals. The movement has come a long way until today, and it is not righ to underestimate theri efforts in improving women’s conditions. It’s not a matter of counting whose actions are strong and whose is not, its a matter of practicing freedom of speech and censoring oneself from using certain words out of fear and embarrasement. It depends from person to person, experience to the knowledge one has perceived from her actions.if I get on to the streets holding banners, calling upon names of high professionals to pay heed to our rights, start an organization by my own to help women; it is unsurprising for people to look at me as a feminist, strong masculine women, who hates every man on earth and is inspiring others to be the same. How did this concept ever get introduced to the history? I have no idea..to me, women need to change their standards on what makes a real woman. You should not be feeling hesitant or sad to call yourself a feminist. We should stop our intense focus on pleasing others through our appearance, or to uphold society norms that undermines a woman’s role. What’s the point of talking about women everyday in closed rooms, within boundaries; if you don’t make an initiative to generate awareness on your work. Do all this really meet our objectives of empowering women, when we ourselves censor from appealing to our own roles? I encourage men also to adopt the word feminism for good and start seeing strong women not as a threat, but as an asset to society, who are helping other women to upgrade their livelihoods. The feminists among us must speak up and stop hiding our self-empowerment. As the famous phrase goes, think today for a better tomorrow, after all today was yesterday’s tomorrow. Today, I stand as a young girl in my university, and I rise up to the top of the mountains and say that I am a feminist because I am angry that my destiny was just decided at birth by having two X chromosomes that makes me a second-class citizen. To be held by chains, to not talk, walk or see something that would allow me to explore the outside world of my prison boundaries. I call myself a feminist because I believe everyone deserves an equal opportunity and I don’t want to take the pain anymore. I am a smart, progressive and a powerful woman who looks at women in a unique stance, and I believe every woman in entitled to the same potential, regardless of her physical attributes or sexual orientation. It is not a matter if you decide to be in the middle where anti feminist sentiment exist or more on to the feminism side, the matter is to recognize your won role as a woman and that will help you to decide if it is really essential for you to refrain from caling you one.

Comments 2

Log in or register to post comments
  • Rita Banerji
    Dec 05, 2010
    Dec 05, 2010

    Radical feminism gets to the root of the problem. -- from the latin -- radix -- root.

    It believes that the root of the problem of gender inequality around the world is that men and women are physically unequal, so no matter how equal they get in education, money etc. -- physical violence will always be at the root of the inequality till we make men take responsibility for it.

    Till we make physical violence as illegal as murder. Because our animal instinct is to kill. Then why don't we kill people on a daily basis like a normal activity. Because the restraint is psychological -- but it had to be implemented and self-imposed through years of civic socialization.

    We will have to do the same with gender violence. That is the fundamental idea of radical feminism.

  • Bhagya
    Dec 05, 2010
    Dec 05, 2010

    Thank you for your idea that allows me to think in debth about feminism. I also thank you for the presentation slides that were sent to me. I am looking forward to work on my project during the course of my vacation. It is very informative and inspirational,, with a little breifing. I am glad to be a part of your initative to address women issues and appreciate your commitment in creating opportunities for all to be a part of it.