What exactly is feminism?
We need everyone to be a feminist. Feminism is the fight for the equality of sexes, not for the domination of one sex over another. - Najat Vallaud-Belkacem
Feminism encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians. - Pat Robertson
In the above quotes, you can see the difference of opinions about feminism. Now I am going to tell you about what happens here at Kerala.
Now there are basically four categories
One, who support feminism by mistaking it as the domination of one sex over another.
Two, who reject feminism under the same misconception.
Three, who support feminism by understanding it as the equality of both sexes.
Four, who reject feminism even after understanding it as the equality of both sexes.
When Keralites are fondly called “Mallu”, “Mallu” not so fondly calls feminists “feminichi”.
“Chi” suffix generally follows colloquial terminologies for women like Ammachi (Mother/Grandmother), Achi (Wife) etc.
Recently, feminism has been a hot topic of discussion in Kerala after the recent movement by some female students in the capital city, Thiruvananthapuram. These students went against discrimination shown by the authorities regarding the entry time of students in their respective hostels. The strike was successful and subsequent order was issued making the entry time same for girls and boys.
Recent events like WCC, Sabarimala, #Me-too etc. have forced Keralites to rethink their notion on feminism. What exactly they think about feminism? This article is based on the comments of various people around Kerala. Before getting into their comments let me brief you on certain events which kindled Feminism in Kerala.
WCC or Women in Cinema Collective
Women in Cinema Collective is an organisation formed after the attack on a South Indian Actress on her way back home from the shoot. An actor who was accused as the master mind behind the scenes right from the beginning was arrested and the trial is still going on. The film industry was split into three groups thereafter.
One in support of her, the other in support of him and the third who didn't either respond at all or were neutral in their stand.
4 actresses of WCC withdrew their membership in AMMA (Association of Malayalam Movie Artists) in order to show their protest because AMMA didn't take any action against the actor. Subsequently the actresses resigned from AMMA. Even after that the actresses didn't re-join the association. WCC brought in the media's attention to the sexual harassment issues in the industry and the discrimination shown towards the female actors.
But not everyone is in support of WCC. Many believe that only a combined effort can make changes in the industry and not just a woman only organisation. It is also believed that staying away from an association where both male and female actors work would make it even more difficult to acquire the desired results.
#Me-too and Mollywood
The "#Me-too" movement is something that shook every industry and the heroes became villains within minutes. Even the actors involved in politics were accused. Senior actors with years of experience were accused in various #me-too posts. Film industry was forced to keep them away. Recently an actor admitted that he is ready to apologize to the survivor actress as he stopped getting offers after the allegations.
Though many didn’t come out, the recent issues have been a great setback to the industry as a whole. We can only hope that the industry recovers from the ill name and becomes a safe workplace for woman.
Sabarimala Temple Entry
Sabarimala temple where Lord Ayyappa is worshipped as a celibate prohibited entry to any female in the age group 10-50 from entering the temple and it was challenged in Supreme court. Subsequently Supreme Court allowed entry to all woman. The judgement resulted in widespread movements either in support or against the judgement like Harthals, protest and woman wall. Religion and politics were playing with the public and everyone blamed it on the feminists. I have to mention women themselves were having different opinions.
It is ironic almost a majority of students agree upon the point that feminism is highly misinterpreted term among the people nowadays.
Adheena Biju, an aspiring writer and law student believes “I am unable to aptly define feminism but I like to opine that it is a tinge of proliferating longing to break away from the antique conventional patriarchal societal apparatus that tends to subjugate feminine virtues. Such a desire is embedded deep within every woman but how much they fuel it up by stepping out of their comfort zones makes the difference. At the same time this movement should not blended with utmost aristocracy or as a trait that ends up in rivalry between the sexes. Feminism can only be achieved with the concerted effort of both genders.”
Many are angered by the fact that the movements are turning into a competition. They are criticizing the misinterpretation of Feminism to be like men. Everyone has the right to choose what they want but you shouldn’t do something that is equally bad for both to be at par with men.
Arunkumar a Civil Service Aspirant said, “From experience I can say that women empowerment will not come from these recent moves or activism. When a girl thinks I want to live independently according to her thoughts in the way she wants but along with others, then we can say that the woman is self-sufficient and empowered. It’s not the competition of two genders or sexes. It’s a mutual understanding and coordination and cooperation and coexistence. Drinking alcohol to be like men is not the way to empower women. Alcohol is not good for health irrespective of gender.”
Perspective matters. It depends on the way you look into the matter. Let’s see what two engineering students have to say about this.
Ashwin Remesh an engineering student believes that “The word 'feminist' relates to a person who believes in bringing about the equality of the sexes. But nowadays it is mostly misunderstood for 'man-hatred'. It is true that till today, in many parts of the world women are still suffering from orthodox beliefs and are being caged by their religious beliefs and ways. This has to stop and young men and women need to step forth to fight this. But until a person truly understands what exactly feminism is (may it be a man or a woman) this task will be impossible to achieve because this develops a misconception of being in a race to compete and establish dominance over men which eventually leads to hatred. Feminism is a word which has a very deep meaning associated with it and which is necessary for millions of women but until it is interpreted in the way it should be, things will go from bad to worse.”
Shahin Saleem yet another engineering student says, “I do not know the definition of Feminism. If it’s the recent political movements, rights and the equality of men and women I don't believe in it. Women and men are entirely different and therefore they cannot be equal. What women need is equity , not equality and they need opportunities better than men.
What is Mallu’s take on feminism?
Among the various people from whom I have taken an opinion. One opinion that I found very similar and common was that of Fayiz AH, a law student from Kochi.
“Feminism is one of the biggest organic struggles of the human race. Our usual language implies that men are primary and women are secondary. This itself shows the need for feminism and more than women empowerment, women aim to be free from the thought of being considered a subordinate to men. Feminism grew through the movements in different fields for various political, economic and social rights. But today feminism faces many challenges. Even the term ‘Feminichi’ is judgmental and it sends out a wrong message to the society. Feminism’s contents have been diminished to sexual liberty by many. I strongly reject the celebrity centered feminism that surrounds me which fails to denote the successful and strong women who are ordinary people”.
“She is free in her wildness, she is a wanderess, a drop of free water. She knows nothing of borders and cares nothing for rules or customs. 'Time' for her isn’t something to fight against. Her life flows clean, with passion, like fresh water.”
Woman is a beautiful creation of god and leaving their life for them to decide and live is something that we should learn to do.
We are on a mission to help women learn, grow, connect, explore opportunities, earn and build an identity. Be a part of this movement for Women Empowerment and get access to many rewarding opportunities.