What happens when the elitist, neoliberalist type of feminism becomes the dominant one? Is everyone supposed to free the nipple and stop shaving armpits?
There are varying types and phases of feminism in our society. The f-word, which has become associated with so much negativity in everyday usage, is often synonymous with feminazi, pseudo-feminists, and manhaters. But this particular type of feminism brings the most negativity in the space about equal rights and the freedom to choose. Apparently, choosing to quit your job and be a stay-athome-mom is not “feminism” and is “succumbing to the patriarchy.” But what’s funny is that this kind of feminism that promotes having the right to “my choice”, at the same time, looks down upon women who actually do have a choice, unless it coincides with a specific idea of living.
Working in the fashion industry, wearing makeup, removal of body hair, getting a nose job done, taking your husband’s last name – all these things are looked down upon. However, there are women who can make these an active choice, something they do out of their desire and not out of pressure from the patriarchy. For some, it is hard to believe that a woman might want to save her virginity till marriage out of her own choice. It is as if there are a set of choices that are the only ones that are the right ones in every situation, for every person.
Often the choice is overlooked by other women, and that’s as problematic as the patriarchal norms. But what’s liberating to some, cannot be equally empowering for others. The entire point of this struggle to the right of free choice is to not be judged with whatever we’re choosing to do. The feminist movement carries the flag of inclusivity around with pride, but there’s no space for women who want, for example, to save their virginity till marriage.
Feminism and believing in equal rights does not mean every woman has to follow a list in order to be a “real feminist”. Women already suffer a lot of negativity in the society for the choices they make. “Too much,” “Too less,” – there are so many judgments we hear about our preferences on a daily basis. And this idea of a particular feminism (any kind), can’t become dominant in a world where there are different kinds of women and different kinds of struggles. The feminist movement needs to become supportive of the people they are struggling for – women.