A person who does not differentiate between two individuals based on their gender, and simply on the basis of the society’s opinion of how they ought to be, is a feminist. Feminism simply stands for equality – not just for women, but for every person, regardless of their gender, caste, religion or race.

From a tender age, children are made aware of their duties and responsibilities. They are taught the do’s and don’ts of social conduct. Girls are conditioned to tolerate problems but never raise their voice against them, while boys are forced to ignore their sensitive side for the fear of not being man enough. In a world which is supposed to be our oyster where we pursue our dreams and be free, it is ironic how only a few have access to the pearl.

Every movement, be it in support of gay rights or in protest against racial discrimination, has gathered great support. People are ready to parade down the streets for them. But when it comes to women’s rights, the support fizzles out. Instead of encouragement, the movement is showered with criticism. People prefer dissociating themselves from the movement rather than supporting it. According to them, being a feminist means being too aggressive and too strong. There is an undercurrent which labels the movement or the feeling of feminism as misandrist, or in currently popular terms, feminazis. Advocating feminism and protesting against discrimination of any kind does not mean resenting those who do not have to face such problems – it just means we want a world where such problems do not exist.

We see women devoting their lives to this cause and we even appreciate them. But is our appreciation enough? Seeing them stand up against the patriarchal system produces immense respect for them. They even inspire us to tackle the simple and small issues of our lives. But is this respect and inspiration enough? As long as we continue to agree to the unfair traditions of the world, all of this inspiration, respect, and appreciation goes down the drain.

Even though it seems as if feminism is a mantle for women alone, it is not. It is as important for men as it is for women. By supporting feminism, men get a chance to break the stereotypes they need to conform with and get an opportunity to be truer, freer versions of themselves. The pressure to be “manly” is off of them. The need to kill their reality will not exist anymore and the vicious cycle will end. The main aim of feminism is to help people break gender stereotypes. While aiming for bigger changes like equal pay for all, it also stands for small, yet valuable changes like helping people realize that it is okay to be their vulnerable selves, that it is not necessary for a man to have his emotions bottled up all the time, and that every woman shouldn’t have to silence her opinion on decisions that affect her life. It does feel overwhelming and the thought of such a future seems too good to be true, but that future is not too far away if we walk the feminist way.

Gauri Jindal (V-I)