Updated: Jun 6, 2020
Are you a FEMINIST type?
Trigger Warning: Mention of rape
I was maybe 15 when I was first asked this question, and my answer was as defensive as it gets. Juggling around being a feminist and trying not to be a spoilsport, I denied the label, and just replied, "I'm not a feminist, I just want equality." I recently had a conversation with a friend where he said, and I quote, "ab tu zyaada feminist ho rahi hai" (now you're being too much of a feminist). And in that moment I realized I'm not afraid of this label anymore, neither do I mind being a spoilsport when the sport is sexist, homophobic, misogynist, etc.
Over the years I've understood the meaning of feminism better, and I'm still learning, but I've definitely understood what "ZYADA FEMINIST" means. It means study, but if you aspire for a career after marriage, too feminist of you. Don't call out the patriarchy in your house. Certainly don't object to that uncle getting turned on by your 13 year old legs. Cater to men who feel entitled to your emotional labour because they 'care' for you and no-one taught them how to express emotions without anger, because if you don't, I'm sorry to tell you, you're too much of a feminist. There is no end to this list, to be honest.
A lot of times, these 'Zyaada Feminist' women like me, are termed 'feminazis' or 'pseudo feminists'. One of these very recent times has been the whole 'Bois Locker Room' fiasco, which underwent police investigation and whose findings have attracted a lot of backlash against feminists and a whole collective meme culture calling us 'feminazis'. For the sake of clarity, I would like to describe the events that underwent in the last couple of weeks:
1. Screenshots of an Instagram group called 'Bois Locker Room' were circulated by an influencer. The screenshots contained pictures of underage girls being sexualised, their faces morphed on nudes, and just endless objectification of these girls.
2. Along with these chats, the screenshot of another snap chat conversation went viral which had mentions of gang rape, was later found unrelated with the 'Bois Locker Room' group. The person sending these texts turned out to be a girl, testing her friend's 'character'.
3. Another totally unrelated and immensely unfortunate incident that took place was the suicide of a 17 year old boy because of alleged false rape allegations against him. He had been sent rape threats himself.
All these incidents were unrelated but somehow got mixed in a whirlwind of internet angst, attacks and counter-attacks, mostly without fact checking. A police investigation into the 'Bois Locker Room', whose investigation was triggered by the snap chat rape threats screenshot proved that both these chats were unrelated.
Before this investigation started, these screenshots took the internet by storm. Rage against these incidents could be seen all over the place. A conversation against the 'boys will be boys' argument started. A somewhat productive, somewhat hopeless conversation about what should be done about this culture that we knowingly or unknowingly promote, started. This culture of how casually a girl(even underage) can be sexualised, objectified, harassed and no-one seems to have a problem with this extreme dehumanization of women. Where does it start? From schools which normalize openly shaming and sexualising girls in public or from our own homes when we ask 10 year old girls to cover themselves because an 'uncle' is home? What makes us think that women can be rated based on their appearance?
I possibly cannot point out one specific origin of this culture. It is a mixture of our ingrained misogyny, male entitlement and objectification.
Although what is even more disappointing is the eventual outcome of all these incidents. The suicide of a boy used to bash women for coming out with #metoo stories, even though the case is under investigation and entirely unrelated to the 'Bois Locker Room' case.
The snap-chat conversation in which the accused turned out to be a girl, somehow became a 'pseudo feminist'. I would like to see the logic behind this bashing of this whole idea of feminism because a teenage girl decided to do this incredibly stupid thing. I don't think 'being a feminist' is what she had in mind. And even though what she did is very problematic and she should be held accountable for it, it does not call for discrediting a whole movement.
This is EXACTLY what is wrong with us. Because we found one teenage girl wrong in her actions, everyone who was defending the 'teenage' boys of Bois Locker Room came together and discredited the whole conversation that took place around it. No, the snap-chat conversation, which had mentions of rape was not the only thing wrong with this case. What was wrong was the act of sexualising underage girls and sharing their pictures without their consent. That was the wrong thing, irrespective of whether it was related to the snap-chat screenshot or not.
The same men who think all gay men are trying to rape them go about raging on hashtags like #notallmen without understanding the fundamental angst against these practices and that when women say all men are trash, they have had incredibly bad experiences with men their whole lives. You could probably change this perception by introspecting, calling out your friends for problematic behavior, make spaces safer for women so you don't have to check on your girlfriend every 20 minutes when she's out. But you CHOOSE to ignore the built up life-long experiences of women and marginalized communities like the LGBTQ. This is where my disappointment and the problem with #notallmen lies.
I say all this while acknowledging that men face a lot of problems because of patriarchy and sexism, and I want to point out exactly that, that these problems are because of patriarchy. Attack that and not women.
I would like to end this with a small story.
A guy once told me that he thinks feminism oppresses men in the sense that now there are different lines everywhere. He has to wait in the men's line while women get their work done faster.
I think he had more problem with women having a separate line than him having to wait more, otherwise he would've seen that a separate line for women is eliminating people from his line as well. Which in turn means LESS waiting time.
But maybe I missed his point you know. Maybe what he meant was, what are women even doing in these lines, who is cooking at home?
But I'll give him credit where it's due. He was probably the only one in that line who understood the actual meaning of feminism: women claiming back their place in the world.
We're claiming our place on the internet as well. Calling out people who make this space unsafe for us is where we start.
Share all the 'ZYAADA FEMINIST' things you've been told not to do in the comments below.
Follow my comic page on Instagram @curlyhairdoodles and my personal account @shubhangiiiiisingh
For all ladies only trips, checkout Wander Womaniya. Keep travelling! Keep owning your space in this Goddamned beautiful world.