The F Word | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 14, 2021 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:19 PM, January 14, 2021

The F Word

I no longer ask people if they're feminists.

The responses hardly ever vary. It's always:

I'm not a feminist, I'm a/an _________.

a. Humanist

b. Meninist

c. Equalist

d. Pseudofeminist

Feminism is taboo, but the nonsensical alternative terms somehow… aren't.

People attempt to justify their use of these alternative terms by using wishy-washy logic and saying things like "the world has changed" and differentiating gender experiences is "old-fashioned". They also profess their profound love for birds, trees, animals or anything that moves and say they must call themselves a humanist because "feminist" just doesn't cut it.

It seems that in their endeavour to distance themselves from the word "feminism", people often tend to forget how their thoughts on equal rights stand out. The absurdity is a carbuncle.

The stigma surrounding feminism is rooted in misogyny, the unflinching rule of "patriarchal values must not be questioned". No one is exempt from this rule, save for a feminist, whose ideologies shake loose the inequality ingrained into the conservative way of life.

And thus, "meninism" was born, alongside increased usage of words such as "equalism" and "humanism". The point of origin for all the confusion surrounding feminism. Years and years of conservatism had come under threat, but for the right reasons. While the former was acknowledged, the latter was not. The lack of awareness has now led to the feminist movement being mocked through various means, as clichés, a seasonal trend, an outcome of premenstrual syndrome.

Here's a quick rundown on feminism: what is it about really? Feminism is a concept revolving around equal rights for all sexes and genders on the basis of economics, politics, and social issues. Despite the origins of the word, feminism itself doesn't prioritise women, or any one sex or gender identity. Feminism works in the favour of equality, with further diversified branches, such as intersectional feminism, taking into account factors beyond genders: class, race, ethnicity, age, colourism, body positivity, religious beliefs, ableism, sexual orientation, et cetera.

It has been argued that perhaps all these layers pertaining to inclusivity has only added to the confusion surrounding feminism which has only continued to grow, to a point where anti-feminists can exploit it however they see fit.

Behold: pseudofeminism.

A pesudofeminist will claim to advocate for feminism in public, whilst acting upon anti-feminist ideologies at home. A husband who brags about "allowing" his wife to work post-marriage. A media personality who encourages you to be your best self by using fairness products. A philanthropist who won't offer decent wages to their employees. An individual with double standards is no feminist, and yet continues to parade around as one, for the whole world to see.

Hatred for feminism has gained momentum amongst the working class primarily because of the movement's trivialisation amidst privileged individuals in society, where this same privilege shields these individuals from many of the woes feminism is meant to fight. The false notion of feminism being exclusive has thus become established.

People continue to dismiss feminism as merely being fashionable during the 21st century. One stigma is piled on top of the other as people continue to replace "feminism" with more neutral terms, citing excuses of exclusivity and disrespect. But it is more evident now than ever, the stigma associated with feminism is a direct product of patriarchal insecurities: what if we do to them what they've been doing to us for centuries?

The author has currently locked horns with her greatest foe: the microbial gut flora. Lend her a hand in battling the devious proteobacteria phyla at


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