Indian women are subjected to deep-rooted gender inequality and violence in a great extent. The atrocities and brutalities against women are increasing day by day. In such a scenario, one would expect Indian women to support the concept of feminism. Instead of fighting for women rights, most of the people are against feminism. Several Indian women are also supporting the men who are against feminism. Various Indian women in positions of power defend and enable the men who brutally raped, harassed, or assaulted other women.

Why is it so? In India, there are various reasons regarding why a woman opposes feminism and other women hesitate to openly declare themselves as a feminist.

Most people think that Indian women got the idea of empowerment and equality due to the impact of western culture. This allegation is baseless as feminism had existed in India prior to Westerners invaded India. People always blamed the West for this issue and then they reject it by saying that this is against our culture.

Several feminists have been living in India for ages. Men who are against equal rights, need to realize that the feminist movement in India was first brought to life by men. Feminism is not only a vital part of Indian culture, but it is also the reason why several social evils against women were abolished, and why we can now focus on various other issues such as the gender pay gap. Feminism in India was and is certainly influenced by the West, but it did not originate in the West.

Feminism is thought to be anti-men. This misconception is alive in the educated masses as well. Popular Bollywood celebrities, who could use their reach to educate their fans, make things worse. Noted actresses like Kareena Kapoor openly declared that they are not feminists and believe in equality! Wish Kareena knew that is what exactly feminism stands for!

Kareena is just one of the many female celebrities who are completely clueless. Others choose to not speak about the feminism word at all. They think that being a feminist is all about women dominating men. They think that in a male dominated country like India, if they speak something related to feminism it would have a negative impact on their life.

In a country like India, where celebrities are being worshipped, this public misinformation adversely affects the feminist movement. A feminist is portrayed as a bad and aggressive woman who drinks heavily and smokes, indulge in all sorts of bad activities and doesn’t believe in the concept of marriage and kids, and hates men.

The popular saying that a woman is another woman’s worst enemy is very true in case of India. A little girl taught in school on how to be a good girl who does not question tradition, slips into her preassigned gender role with ease, and stays away from those who have a feminist ideology.

Naturally, most of these girls grow up into anti-feminists who mock the concept of feminism and degrade the feminists. Some women do this due to plain ignorance. Some do it to appear more likable to their male partners. And some others do it because they are privileged enough to not have faced serious oppression, at least that is what they think since a lot of us aren’t aware of the various forms of gender discrimination. Some may want equality but settle for less because of unconscious bias and internalized misogyny.

These are the women who are very much against feminism. They even question the reason for its very existence.

You would now be thinking that women in India are ignorant. But, that is not the case. There are women here who are very alert. But while they live the cause and even make several changes on some level, they are afraid to openly declare themselves as a feminist. This is because there is too much at stake if they do so.

A woman who calls herself as a feminist is subjected to hate and judgement, way more than the openly feminist man. She is considered a “man-hating lady” and has to deal with trolling, insults in her social media platforms and real life. She may be personally attacked for having a bold opinion. The feminist Indian woman is considered as bossy, uptight, loose, etc. based on anything she says and posts. All this affects her good image, career, mental health, and personal safety in an adverse manner. Hence, she prefers to operate in anonymity and silence rather than receive attacks and rape threats. The moment she openly declares that she is a feminist by nature, she starts to get degraded.

The typical Indian woman has been dissociated from feminism because she does not understand what it really is. People have a tendency to fear and hate what they never understand, so the maiden thing Indian feminists need to do is to explain about the basic concept and need of feminism to the uninformed women. Instead of treating feminism as something bad, Indians need to be more inclusive and welcoming. We also need to discuss regarding the current issues as much as we can so that we can uproot conditioning and de-stigmatize the good fight for gender equality.

Mindsets of people are changing day by day, but not rapidly as they should. It is only when we are well aware of our rights, we can fight for them. It is only when all the women unite to fight against patriarchy we can get to see a better India where men and women are treated equally.

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