Becoming Feminists: Why Feminism is an active, everyday choice

August 14, 2016 Written By Aadya Sinha

I recently heard a colleague at work speak passionately of an interview with a prospective female student coming from a less privileged background. On being asked why she wanted to pursue higher studies, the girl had answered "I want to become a feminist." The words didn't sit right in my mind and I instantly attributed the error to the interviewee; her nerves, her background. She probably meant to say that, it was because she was a feminist. I voiced as much to my colleague, who replied, a little sharper this time, "No, she wants to become a feminist."

The concept of 'becoming a feminist' seemed entirely foreign to me. Having grown up in an affluent and progressive household and being educated in the best of private schools, everyone around me called themselves 'feminists' or at the very least professed to believe in gender equality. (How those two are different, I have never understood)  The term 'feminist' was thus  implicit and taken for granted. Nevermind that there was no accountability to the tag, that most self proclaimed equalist peers only used the term in "I'm a feminist, but..." statements.

becoming-feminists-feminism-active-everyday-choice

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The idea that someone would have to choose to become a feminist was one I hadn't considered. Yet it is one that is so very important.

Patriarchy and its offshoots are deeply and profoundly ingrained in our culture, and we sometimes forget that 'culture' itself is a neat little summation of a multitude of areas. Originating from the latin word 'cultura' that translates to 'cultivation', culture is the foundation of a settled society. Our humour, our language, our values, our norms, our politics, our media, our internet, our ideas; every outcome of our abstract thinking facilities and every step that sets up 'civilized' society is drawn from the arbitrary and dogmatic notion that men and women are different, with little or no mention of people who don't identify with the binary. The notion that they are unequal.

Then how can being a feminist feel 'natural' in such a place?

The idea of equality regardless of sex is such a simple one. It should feel natural, obvious and commonsensical, yet it goes against the grain. It makes people uncomfortable.

Everyday that we put the idea that women, men, transexuals, agender, gender fluid and genderqueer people are equal, into action, we choose to be feminists. Everyday that we question, that we include, that we appreciate the beauty of our diversity, we choose to become feminists.

And the days that we don't, we choose not to.

To be a feminist is to choose to fight against constant insidious conditioning by family members and their apothegms, to varying degrees.  It's fighting impulses to be embarrassed and ashamed of every tiny flaw and imperfection that makes one 'ineligible' to be whoever they want us to be this week. It's being patient with those who don't have our luxuries and privileges. It's understanding intersectionality, constantly checking our privilege, constantly expanding our circle and always being inclusive. It's to be aware of the origins of feminism, its linkage to civil rights movements, to the universal fight for equality of opportunity and treatment. It's to brave the constant questioning, the disapproval, the shaming, the violence and the occasional announcement that we now live in a 'post-feminist' age. It isn't easy, but it is so essential.

becoming-feminists-feminism-active-everyday-choice

Image Source

To be a feminist is to believe that it's not our shame, that institutionalized bigotry must be combated. To break ceilings, and then destroy the pay gap because euphemisms are society's way of taking an easy way out. It is to dare to unlearn all that we are constantly told is 'natural' and 'desirable' and ask ourselves uncomfortable questions. It's being the voice identifying ethinic, race and class privelege in  conversation on rape culture.To practice the politics of reflecting, redefining, reappropriating and reconciling.

It is one privilege, that we must earn every day.

To be a feminist is a choice. And the day making that choice becomes easy for each and everyone that needs feminism is the only day that it will feel 'natural'.

Till then, we must choose to be unnatural, choose be beautiful. Choose to become feminists. And maybe one day, we will.

Tell us how you choose to be a Feminist in your daily life in the comments!

 

becoming-feminists-feminism-active-everyday-choice

Image Source

 

Becoming Feminists: Why Feminism is an active, everyday choice

August 14, 2016 Written By Aadya Sinha

I recently heard a colleague at work speak passionately of an interview with a prospective female student coming from a less privileged background. On being asked why she wanted to pursue higher studies, the girl had answered "I want to become a feminist." The words didn't sit right in my mind and I instantly attributed the error to the interviewee; her nerves, her background. She probably meant to say that, it was because she was a feminist. I voiced as much to my colleague, who replied, a little sharper this time, "No, she wants to become a feminist."

The concept of 'becoming a feminist' seemed entirely foreign to me. Having grown up in an affluent and progressive household and being educated in the best of private schools, everyone around me called themselves 'feminists' or at the very least professed to believe in gender equality. (How those two are different, I have never understood)  The term 'feminist' was thus  implicit and taken for granted. Nevermind that there was no accountability to the tag, that most self proclaimed equalist peers only used the term in "I'm a feminist, but..." statements.

becoming-feminists-feminism-active-everyday-choice

Image Source

The idea that someone would have to choose to become a feminist was one I hadn't considered. Yet it is one that is so very important.

Patriarchy and its offshoots are deeply and profoundly ingrained in our culture, and we sometimes forget that 'culture' itself is a neat little summation of a multitude of areas. Originating from the latin word 'cultura' that translates to 'cultivation', culture is the foundation of a settled society. Our humour, our language, our values, our norms, our politics, our media, our internet, our ideas; every outcome of our abstract thinking facilities and every step that sets up 'civilized' society is drawn from the arbitrary and dogmatic notion that men and women are different, with little or no mention of people who don't identify with the binary. The notion that they are unequal.

Then how can being a feminist feel 'natural' in such a place?

The idea of equality regardless of sex is such a simple one. It should feel natural, obvious and commonsensical, yet it goes against the grain. It makes people uncomfortable.

Everyday that we put the idea that women, men, transexuals, agender, gender fluid and genderqueer people are equal, into action, we choose to be feminists. Everyday that we question, that we include, that we appreciate the beauty of our diversity, we choose to become feminists.

And the days that we don't, we choose not to.

To be a feminist is to choose to fight against constant insidious conditioning by family members and their apothegms, to varying degrees.  It's fighting impulses to be embarrassed and ashamed of every tiny flaw and imperfection that makes one 'ineligible' to be whoever they want us to be this week. It's being patient with those who don't have our luxuries and privileges. It's understanding intersectionality, constantly checking our privilege, constantly expanding our circle and always being inclusive. It's to be aware of the origins of feminism, its linkage to civil rights movements, to the universal fight for equality of opportunity and treatment. It's to brave the constant questioning, the disapproval, the shaming, the violence and the occasional announcement that we now live in a 'post-feminist' age. It isn't easy, but it is so essential.

becoming-feminists-feminism-active-everyday-choice

Image Source

To be a feminist is to believe that it's not our shame, that institutionalized bigotry must be combated. To break ceilings, and then destroy the pay gap because euphemisms are society's way of taking an easy way out. It is to dare to unlearn all that we are constantly told is 'natural' and 'desirable' and ask ourselves uncomfortable questions. It's being the voice identifying ethinic, race and class privelege in  conversation on rape culture.To practice the politics of reflecting, redefining, reappropriating and reconciling.

It is one privilege, that we must earn every day.

To be a feminist is a choice. And the day making that choice becomes easy for each and everyone that needs feminism is the only day that it will feel 'natural'.

Till then, we must choose to be unnatural, choose be beautiful. Choose to become feminists. And maybe one day, we will.

Tell us how you choose to be a Feminist in your daily life in the comments!

 

becoming-feminists-feminism-active-everyday-choice

Image Source

 

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