“Are you a feminist?”- the question coupled with a disgusting look on the speaker’s face is something most people who believe in feminism must have come across. From being misconceived as matriarchy to sweeping statements like “but women are not equal to men; they are superior” that try to question the necessity for the movement, being sexist the other way around, feminism is clearly not everyone’s favourite word.
In fact, the concept of feminism has been here for a long time, says writers from Saint Louis University. It is an ideology that often gets misunderstood as being associated with hating men but, in reality, is just equal rights for both the sexes. There is a spectrum even to this. For example, while some feminists find it acceptable for women to act in pornographic content as long as it is their choice, others find the industry as a whole offensive and discriminatory towards women. Erstwhile US president Barack Obama, Malala Yousafzai, and Emma Watson have been some prominent figures who have addressed issues of sexism.
The Harry Potter actress started the HeforShe campaign as a part of the UN Women Solidarity Movement for Gender Equality in 2014, urging men to join the feminist movement. Serving as a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, her campaign got widespread acclaim. However, Watson’s campaigns have come to much criticism. Being from a privileged position as a white woman from an upper-class background, having had a privileged life, being able to go to an Ivy League institution etc., questions have been raised whether she can really understand or stand for the sufferings of women who are much lesser privileged than she is. While it is true that Watson has been lucky in her life, her choice to stand up for the ones who were not so, I feel, shows her remarkable character and should be encouraged than be looked down upon.
N Malavika Mohan