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Explainer What exactly is feminism and why do we need it
Delve Gender Wednesday, August 28, 2019 - 19:10

The 'F'-word that divides as many as it unites, the belief that has spun new terms like 'feminazis' and 'female chauvinists', the one term that makes many - too many - celebrities go, "not it!" Feminism is a term that is controversial - although, it really shouldn't be. 

A lot of times, people say they are not feminist - although a lot of things they seem to believe in practice does align with what feminism stands for. At TNM, we have a sneaky feeling that this word has just got a bad rep, mainly because it's been misrepresented by some people. It's ok if you don't want to call yourself a feminist - that's a personal choice of course. However, we think you should know what feminism is before you decide - informed choice and all that, you know?

We asked TNM employees in Bengaluru (and a poor intern who didn't really have much choice) to tell the world what they think feminism is - no, not some textbook definition and all, but lived experiences and personal thoughts. We talk about our views on feminism, whether we think feminists 'HATE MEN', and of course answer that question people keep asking - Why you call it feminism and not humanism? Huhhhhh?

Watch this video, and do share your feedback!

What is feminism – and why do we need it?

Are you a feminist? Then, why are you not a humanist? All this and more answered. #Feminism

Posted by TheNewsMinute on Wednesday, 28 August 2019

Here's a full transcript of the video:

Are you a feminist?

I am a feminist. Of course, I am a feminist. Why? Because that is logical.

I am a feminist. My father is a feminist. My husband is a feminist.

Who doesn’t want equality? That would be wrong. Even I am a feminist.

Anyone who is not feminist is sexist. Why would you be sexist?

Why are you a feminist?

Well, that dates back to 1987 when I was born.

I think I have lost out on a lot of opportunities because I am a woman.

I think men and women should have equal rights. I want the same opportunities as men. I don’t think I have to fight extra for it. Or that I have to be raised different because I am a girl or whatever.

Before I could even define what feminism was, I realised that I was a feminist and the term was introduced. Like, I learnt it later. Why? Because I believe in equality.

What is feminism according to you?

You know, you recognise that there has been historical oppression of anyone who is not cis, white, straight male, and if you recognise that there has been that historical oppression, then you understand that they are not at the same pedestal as a straight, white, cis man would be.

All people irrespective of their gender or sexuality or age or class or caste are supposed to be treated as equal.

Feminism is advocating for equal rights between men and women. Not only just equal rights but also the opportunity to access this equal rights.

Why do we need feminism?

I have heard a lot of people say that women get to earn now and they get to stay out till 8 o’ clock and do their jobs or whatever. But, if that woman is going back home and if she is still the one who has the burden of all the tasks at home, that is not equal.

Women are cooks in almost every home, right? But who are the top chefs? It is men! So even something that is traditionally considered a woman’s job, when it comes into an area where it is associated with fame, power, money, men are again at the top there.

I think you should look at opportunities which you are being given out. Lot of times I am sure top management would say that it is always easier to give this position to a man because probably he is going to work late hours. First of all, the concept of late hours should not arise. 

It is also the fact that, let’s say I am a copywriter and I am being paid Rs 50, but my male counterpart is being paid Rs 80. That is unfair.

You would also say that she would get married, she would go the family way. These are things that they always put forward to say that how do you withhold a promotion for a woman. Is that going ahead and saying that because he is a man and because he will stay late in office and because he will never give birth, does that mean that he commands a higher role in the workplace? I don’t think so. Or does that mean that he is better suited for that role? Lot of times I think lot of companies would have probably been better off by promoting female employees against a certain person, just because he stays late in office. And the notion of people - especially men - staying late in office, I don’t think they are doing any work. 

They are playing solitaire. That is what they are doing.

Or they do not want to go back home to participate equally in the household work.

In India, as many as 30% of the farmers are women. But the idea seems to be, whenever there is a policy or a government order that comes on farming, the idea of a farmer in the heads of a policy maker is predominantly male.

Why is it called feminism and not humanism?


Nobody is saying that human beings are not equal. That is not the point. The point why we need to call it feminism is, okay, let us forget gender, let us forget class, caste, whatever, whatever, whatever. There are two groups – there is ‘A’ group, there is ‘B’ group. And ‘A’ group has more privileges than a ‘B’ group. ‘B’ group is fighting for rights. So the ‘B’ group has to name themselves right? So it is about rights for ‘B’ group. It has to be ‘B’ groupism. And not ‘A’ and ‘B’ the whole square groupism.

Do feminists hate men?

(Sarcastically) I hate men. I hate men.

Who was this question written by?

Mostly men only hate feminists, many a times. I don’t think feminists hate men.

Everything they want to make it about themselves.

I think men think that it is the female version of misogyny.

The problem with men who think that feminism is about hating men is because they see feminism as the opposite of patriarchy. They feel that under feminism, women will treat them the same way that they treat women, which is what makes them so afraid of it.

What is the role of men in feminism?

I really want to say, “Haven’t you done enough damage already?”

Men who have a lot of privilege in society and who have a lot of space in society need to use that space and make that space feminist. So for instance, if you are the CEO of an organisation, then you have the responsibility as a feminist to make that space as feminist as possible.

If you think you are a feminist, talk to your friends, call out your friends and have a proper productive conversation with them about what is wrong and what actually needs to be done.

It can be being a vocal person who asserts rights or creates opportunities to create a level playing field, where traditionally it hasn’t been.

Honestly, enough time has been wasted in arguing with men than contributing to the movement itself.

It would be nice if you, if men don’t do more damage to our cause. If you cannot help us, at least stay silent when people go out and conquer the world.

How should the feminist movement improve?

Feminism needs to improve, yes. We hear a lot of terms now like White Feminism or in India, Brahminical Feminism and Savarna Feminism and, a lot of times, just like our male oppressors or cis, straight male oppressors, we also tend to get defensive. It is a criticism and a demand for doing better. I, as a cis Brahmin woman, need to understand that I have more privileges than a Dalit woman and I need to understand that if these are my privileges, then if I don’t check those, the I don’t get to really have any moral high ground or take any moral high ground when calling out a cis straight man when he is being an oppressor.

Being a feminist does not also give you the right to be condescending. Being a feminist does not mean that you have achieved brownie points or get a gold star. That means you are basic human. You are not getting a medal for it.

I think caste inclusivity, gender inclusivity, class inclusivity, all of it... there is still work that need to be done over there. We are not where we need to be at all.

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