Feminism India

Feminist not Fascist!

The year was 2014, I was attending a vocational training camp in Kochi, Kerala, India. The trainer, a man in his late thirties, asked the class if anyone was a feminist. The class remained immobile and silent. From the second last row in which I was seated, I half raised my hand. He glanced in my direction and chose to ignore me.

The year is 2017, I was attending a house party in London, United Kingdom. A female friend of mine and I, were shaking our heads hopelessly after failing to convince two of our male friends what feminism was. The two Indian boys we were talking to, one, an NIT and IIM graduate and another, a batchmate of mine from UCL hi-fived each other and retorted our bit on feminism by saying, “These feminist girls, Deepika Padukone and my choice!”

Feminism is a bad word in India. I speak especially of India for I was born and raised here. This is where I have my roots and therefore, this, my home, is what I can talk about best. As a literature major, I have faith in the power of words. Semantics or the association of words and meanings is of special importance in today’s world where words are used to isolate and target minority communities, to defend principles and where words can start and end wars.

So here is my humble attempt to define and elucidate some basic feminist ideologies, terms, and misconceptions in the simplest of terms (sans hardcore academic feminism).

Let’s start at the very beginning, it’s a very good place to start… (Sound of Music reference?)

Promoting a group’s welfare does not mean the persecution of another. Feminism is not fascism. If you find feminism despotic then it’s time to reevaluate your moral principles, for the fear comes from a sense of insecurity. If the name does not instill fear in you, then you are probably a feminist yourself (whether you chose to call yourself one or not).

“Always use the proper name for things. Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself” (Harry Potter Reference?).

And a feminist is not someone who should be feared provided you are on the right side.

UN Women Intern with a Master's degree in Gender Studies and English Lit (each). Food. Books. People - are my buzzwords.