Feminism India

Redefining Feminism

Is what everyone’s been up to these days. I think it started in full swing after one of the most sought-after icons for young women worldwide – Emma Watson – started her #heforshe campaign. Ever since that happened, more and more people have come forward to identify themselves as feminists because the idea that feminism simply asks for equality started to get ingrained in modern psyches.

But being an Indian and a feminist, I feel that I should address the process of redefining this favourite -ism of mine in my own country. When people say that feminism basically translates as equality, it gives the impression that feminists or women in general, are at an inferior position from which they’re struggling for a position of equality with men. Which was undeniably the case even a few years ago in the world and unfortunately, still happens to be the case in some parts of India. But what we fail to grasp is that it is more a question of being “fair” than anything else. Fair pay, fair treatment, fair everything for not only women but also men. Allow me to elaborate.

The feminist in me feels offended when a little boy gets punished more than a little girl for the same offense. This is a reality in the schools and homes of our country. You forget to bring your textbook to class, and the punishment is, “write an imposition if you’re a girl but leave the classroom if you’re a boy”. I don’t know if the assumption is that girls cannot “take” a punishment or that boys are stronger than girls. Either way, it insults me.

The feminist in me feels offended when a little boy is rebuked for playing with his sister’s dolls. Why can’t he have fair and equal access to all the toys in the house? Toys are for kids and everyone knows that kids should be taught to share. What are parents trying to achieve by segregating these toys? Whatever it is, it insults me.

The feminist in me feels offended when a boy is denied further education at a University of his choice because his parents need to be able to afford his sister’s wedding. That one issue right there is wrong on so many levels. Because one would wonder if the sister even asked for further education. The possibility that she might not have even considered it is in itself scary. Because then, it only means that the family as a whole thinks that getting a daughter married is the most important thing in the world. All because society is watching them and they’re scared of the judgments being made. This is what leads to another generation of women who think that marriage is the end goal of their existence and men who think that getting their sisters and daughters married is the only thing that’ll earn them respect in the society. The whole idea insults me.

The feminist in me feels offended when the concept of Paternity leave is unheard of in modern workplaces. Whether it’s because nobody feels that a father shares equal responsibility in caring for the infant that he helped bring into this world, or because people feel that a father is not as important to an infant as a mother is, I feel insulted.

The feminist in me feels offended when men and women blindly clamor for “equal” pay based on the number of hours that they clocked in at work, when what we need today is fair payment based on the value they bring into the workforce. To make matters more simple, imagine that a woman clicks 10 boxes in x amount of hours while a man clicks 15 boxes in the same amount of time. I feel that it’s only fair if the man gets paid extra for the extra work he completed. Similarly, if the woman completed more work than the man, she simply gets paid more. This would not only motivate workers to perform better for better pay but will also be a feminist work-place where pay is actually “fair”. I understand that a lot of systems need to be in place to pull this off but I also understand that setting up those systems is not impossible. The answer is simple: Data. The first step would be to collect as much data as possible pertaining to the value each individual has in that workforce. The next step would be to remove as much human involvement as possible in deciding the compensation for each individual using the collected data. But then again, a major glitch in this plan is that it will be difficult to implement this system in creative fields like writing and advertising because the quality of creative work always diminishes when there’s money involved. Moreover, creativity is subjective. But there are smart people out there. I’m sure we’re capable of coming up with an optimal solution.

But while we’re still on the subject of “fair” pay, I feel it’s important to give a very relevant example from our times to make things even more clear. Let’s talk about the United States Women’s National Soccer team who filed a legal case for gender discrimination in pay. Turns out that while the Men’s Soccer team made it to round 16 in the World Cup, the women won 3 World Cups. While the men are ranked 30 in the world, the women are ranked 1. While the men make up to $17000 for every match they win, the women make a mere $1300. And what’s more, the men make around $5000 every time they lose. The whole thing stinks, doesn’t it? You’d think that it’s because the public likes watching the Men’s team but apparently, even that’s not true. This video is going to sum it up for you:

Ankita Narayan

Edinburgh, Scotland | http://ankita.ink/

I'm a blogger, podcaster, wife and feminist. I record snippets from my life on my blog, tackle social issues on my podcast and work with my team of fellow feminists in this space.