And Then I Was Told, "You Are a Feminist"

This is a peculiar new perspective about feminism.

And Then I Was Told, "You Are a Feminist"

Among the many misinterpretations about feminism that I’ve come across on social media and in person, this was yet another bizarre example. I live with a mixture of people, some very clear advocates of feminism, some feminists who do not feel the need to explicitly mention their stance and some who say they are feminists because it’s “cool.” Allow me to explain. The first kind is women who are vocal about the discrimination faced by women, who will raise an eyebrow at every stereotypical comment about girls, and who are very happy to debate about why the ideology of feminism is important. In the second category fall people who will joke about gender roles in a sarcastic tone, will believe in equal rights, but will explain this principle only when there’s an obvious misunderstanding about its nature. The third kind, the peculiar kind of people are those who advocate themselves as feminists but still want their future wife to be home before they return from work. They say they want a working wife because they find it attractive. The first two kinds have been trying to understand this logic for a few months now, but have failed. So, I’ll try to write it down instead.

This happened a few months ago when we were talking about how messed up gender roles are. It was all a big joke because three boys that I live with are active cooks and like to experiment in the kitchen. All three girls, on the other hand, cook only to survive and would rather eat the delicious food that the boys cook. I am the most naïve of the lot though because the other two girls know the basics of cooking while I go as far as “whip the eggs.” I need instructions because I find cooking a tedious chore, not recreation. The whole joke was that patriarchy messed up big time and that boys should be the one handling kitchen chores. It was all in good fun, all a matter of joke. And the third kind suddenly said, “You don’t cook because you’re a feminist.” Although I was amused (for the lack of logic) suddenly the atmosphere became serious and the first kind demanded an explanation. Third kind said that I avoid cooking because feminism says a girl’s place is not in the kitchen. Okay, let me tell you something, third kind. We say that girls don’t belong in the kitchen meaning we don’t want to be restricted to household chores. It means we want an equal opportunity to do things we want, the privilege that men hold and the right that women are demanding. It doesn’t mean we should never cook. That’s ridiculous and it is still exactly what we are fighting; being told what we can or cannot do. I don’t like to cook, I love wearing denim and a tee, hate shaving, and jump at any opportunity for an adventure activity. And I am a feminist. Not “because”, “and.” Please understand this difference. I also like wearing skirts, do my hair, like keeping things tidy, and gossip. And I am a feminist. Not “still”, not “but”, “and.” These are my choices and feminism is my ideology to be able to follow those choices.

I fall in the second kind. I am a silent feminist unless the situation demands me to be vocal. I will not put up “feminist” as my bio information, but I will practice it. It’s not bad, obviously, to advertise your principle. It is a just and sensible principle after all. But I don’t do it. Not even because I am ashamed or embarrassed. Why should I be? I am just not that kind of a person. But that doesn’t mean you should attack me when I follow gender norms or condescend when I don’t. But okay, this isn’t about me, it’s about the third kind. You know how they say the right amount of alcohol brings out the real you? This incident happened when the right amount of alcohol was in the third kind’s system. I was washing plates and I was forced away from the sink because “girls don’t belong in the kitchen.” Well, they do, when there’s work to be done. Girls may not belong in the kitchen, but they also don’t not belong there. But let’s end this topic here because feminism does not belong in the kitchen.

We were once talking about what qualities we desire in our partners. No one really spoke about appearances apart from a few subjective adjectives thrown around. Most said they want a partner in a true sense, someone they can coexist with, who complements their likes, dislikes, strengths, and weaknesses. The third kind said they want a wife who works because “I like girls who work. It’s attractive to me.” This is a person who says he’s a feminist because this is his justification about how he is all for equal rights. Well, if I may burst your bubble, third kind, you are not a feminist. You just say this because “it’s the new cool”. What you are doing, essentially, is objectifying an equal right to work so it appeals to you. Your wife shouldn’t work because you find it attractive. She can, if she wants to. And she can very well stay at home and take care of the house if she chooses to. If you dictate her choices, even if they are liberal, you aren’t a feminist.

It does not help his case much when he said he wanted his wife to work, but to be home before he arrives from his job because “how else will we spend time together?” You want to spend time with your wife and that’s very nice. But why must she have to work according to the period you set? Among all the man-hating, rebels-without-a-cause, compensating-for-ugly-looks nonsense I have heard about feminists, this one I found the most interesting. It gives me a whole new scope of debate or making someone understand that feminism is not supposed to be cool, but common sense. I mean, it is cool but you shouldn’t follow it because it is. Pseudo-feminism is not going to make you cool in any way. If that’s the only reason you follow feminism, please, by all means, be a male chauvinist. Be a male chauvinist and wait for us feminists to smash your bubble so hard you won’t even dream of belittling us.

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Tanvi Patel

An introvert in an extrovert environment

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