Mayaa SH | Feminism Decoded

Mayaa SH | Feminism Decoded

Mayaa SH who has lived by the slogan of "Vichaar"(Reflect) decodes the concept of Feminism. An activist, poet and author, she has spent most of her adult life raising voice against injustice and patriarchy and building a strong foundation of solidarity with women across borders.The unflagging feminist and communicator par excellence, Mayaa SH has left a unique imprint on the women’s movement across India. Her feminism is a nurturing one; even those who thought differently were touched by it.

A common definition of feminism is that women should be given equal social, political and economic rights and opportunities. The aim of feminism is not at all that we should take power from one gender and hand it over to the other gender. One of the meanings of feminism is that a woman should have the freedom to do whatever she wants to be in life. Feminism as vehemently viewed as a mission to look down upon the opposite gender in order to achieve incontrovertible rights is totally a doctrine of a rigid mindset. Feminism is a movement against misogyny and exploitation of women. Feminism is not just about achieving equality for women. 

Feminism seeks equality for all. It is not limited to just one gender but it also demands equality among people of all religions, classes, castes. Feminism demands the right of every individual to live life with liberty, equality and dignity. But the reality is that even today feminism is seen as a controversial topic. Maybe it’s because many people have defined it incorrectly. That is why even today many people shy away from calling themselves feminist as the word itself is labelled by some fringe elements as either being egotistical or meant to go against the set norms of a civic society. Women who tend to stand for either themselves or for an equitable cause are not looking at a resolve that is meant to stand the testimony of time as being a rule breaker or forgetting their belief systems or principles in life. 

Feminism does not at all believe that being a woman is great or better than being a man. The purpose of feminism is not at all to degrade men and ignore them. The aim of feminism is to find out the specific reasons for the status of women in the society and to offer alternative solutions for their betterment. Feminism aims to achieve gender equality. Feminists argue that there is not necessarily a direct link between the biological structure of men and women and the characteristics of masculinity and femininity. Feminists emphasize that various social institutions and beliefs in particular are caused by gender-based discrimination. There has been discrimination against women in the society for centuries. For centuries women were suppressed and their rights ignored. They were considered as the lower part of the society and their role was restricted to household chores, child birth and upbringing. The mere fact it is misconstrued as a movement meant to crush the basic rights of all genders by placing the rights of women above all is inappropriate.

Being a feminist doesn’t mean you have to change who you are? How do you dress or how much makeup do you wear? Feminism is not only for women; any man can support feminism. Everyone is a feminist who believes that women and men should be given equal rights and equal opportunities. Feminism not only raises voice for the injustice being done to women but also for men. There are also many popular rumours regarding feminism, for example, some people believe that being a feminist means opposing men. Feminism does not ignore men at all, rather it talks about equality, how many elements in the society aim at placing the entire ideology of feminism in a totally wrong light for self-centric reasons should be pondered upon.

Many people also believe that feminists are against religion. Feminists are not against religion and culture, provided it talks about equality. As a feminist, if my religion and culture considers me inferior, then I am against it. At the same time, many people also believe that feminists break families. While feminists do not want to break up families, they want equal status among families.

Many also believe that feminist ideology is a product of western culture. Feminism is not an ideology from the West, but it is an ideology that has been adopted by different classes and communities from time to time. Feminism is for everyone and we all should be feminists and remember this very vividly that there are women who do wrong to other women and there are men who do good to other women. The problem is not in being a man, it is in thinking. Feminism urges a distinction between the biological differences between men and women and the differences in social roles between men and women. Biological differences are natural or innate whereas gender differences are society-born. In this way, it can be said that feminism tries to establish a society where a balance can be established in place of any kind of discrimination between men and women and both men and women can enjoy equal rights. 

It is high time society needs to view the word ‘feminist’ as not a mere term meant to break out of the socially constructed gender stereotypes and norms. Holistically, the “fem” in feminism has been related to breeding contempt in the hearts of many leading to a rise of a common misconception to importune the opposite gender and that is why it is considered such a big taboo. Besides, Feminism does not preach misandry – a hatred for men, instead it doesn’t favour any gender but instead aims to remove any discrimination on the basis of gender.

It is important to understand to focus on the underlying principles of inclusion of women in all spheres of life at par excellence to all genders but, not to evoke any conditional understanding of the general cognitive thinking of many for so long to dehumanise the importance of all genders. Such lack of awareness is pervasive to spread chaos over one’s life.

Feminism calls for a woman in every field to reclaim her existential identity and mastery over her life.

- ©® Mayaa SH 

About The Author 

Mayaa SH is universally described as an unflagging feminist and one of the most original voices to have emerged in the course of the modern feminist women’s movement, who has had the ability to rip through ideas of patriarchy with rapier sharp wit or laughter. Mayaa SH is not only set out to be a feminist activist. In Pune she also post graduated into Industrial Economics as one of her degrees to study the consequences of economic change in societies. In words of Mayaa "I increasingly found that amongst the condemned, women were left far behind,” she said in one of her interviews . Referring to people plagued with the evils of casteism “Amongst the poorer, women were more economically exploited section of the society. Amongst the excluded, women were more excluded. So even though I was not meant to be aligned to the field of women empowerment and feminism, I slowly became one without even knowing the word ‘feminist’ at that time. ”Amongst the most famous ideology of "Vichaar" (reflect) in which Mayaa has insisted on the power of self belief and inner reflection first to reinvent and rediscover one's purpose in life, here is an excerpt:

"To fight any sort of violence, I must reflect.
To end my suffering, I must reflect.
To challenge the doctrine of patriarchal norms, I must reflect.
To demolish all the structural norms of orthodox thinking, I must reflect.
Because I’m a girl, I must reflect.
To mould a faith I can trust, I must reflect."
I must reflect to Awake from the deep slumber of bondage of mindset, Rise and Keep Moving Forward as Sky is not the Limit and the Will to Succeed Invigorates Strength to Combat Fear in Life.
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