Feminism for Dummies


This story first appeared on Eyra Magazine on December 29, 2020.

If you’ve lived on planet earth, you’re bound to have come across different opinions on different things in and around the conversations you’ve had with people. And one of the things you’d definitely have had conflicted opinions on is feminism as a concept. A lot of people are hesitant to openly identify as feminists. And that’s usually because of a bunch of reasons. Either you think it’s against men, or you think it’s stupid, or you think all feminists are angry all the time, or you think it’s something else that I can’t possibly fathom as I write this article. Amidst all of that confusion, welcome to this crash course on feminism.

Every one of us has, at least once in our lives, come across that dumb misogynist who doesn’t know what he’s going on about, and if you’d like to tell him exactly where he’s got his fundas wrong, then this article is designed to help you. Or, you think you’re clueless (trust me I’ve been there) and would like to be better informed, then this article is for you.

In this article, I’d like to go into some of the core beliefs that make up a feminist opinion, and try and demystify the history of feminism, the different types of feminism and what makes each of them different, and if, at the end, you can’t bracket yourself under any category, then there’s nothing stopping you from making one of your own.

The first thing I’d like to say, to start things off, is that if you think women have a right to be heard, if women need to be respected and treated as human beings, then you’re a feminist. It’s as simple as that. The complications arise when you read deeper into feminist theory. But before that, here’s a small bit on feminist history.


There was once a time, when women sat inside the house and could do nothing they really wanted to. If you picked up Virginia Woolf’s, A Room of One’s Own and leafed through the first few pages, she talks about women not getting to write the way she did unless they came from privilege; or, how she had to go visit the library before it opened because she wasn’t allowed there; or, how she had to walk on the grass instead of the paved pathway (she preferred the grass though). It was a time when women couldn’t work, all they could do was sit at home and make babies, heck, they didn’t even have the right to vote, let alone the right to drive a car or smoke a cigarette.

Books like Woolf’s were instrumental in pushing for what is famously known as the first wave of feminism. This was when women all over the world, starting from the Suffragettes in England, led by Emmeline Pankhurst and the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), agreed to protest for their rights, and succeeded. This was replicated all over the world, and by the time the mid-20th century passed, most women had got these basic rights – the right to vote, to work, etc. This put them in a better position in society, and eventually set the stage for the second wave.

By this time, in the late 1960s and 70s, women were angry at the world, because institutional change had not guaranteed them social acceptance. This led to a lot of radical movements, largely led by Betty Friedan and a bunch of other women. These women got up and owned the whole ‘she’s high maintenance‘ sexist moniker, and took to the streets. There was a lot of poetry written, pamphlets and zines circulated, along with a lot of mass mobilisation; women explored their own bodies, came to terms with their sexuality, and tried to understand themselves better as individuals. Uppity Women Unite, National Ogle Day, Lavender Menace, and a bunch of other radical movements defined this wave, but what went wrong was that these movements were so fast paced and so quick that they ignored a lot of other communities within women itself.

For example, while the entirety of the movement was screaming about using birth control pills, encouraging women in these groups to do so as well, the black rights movement, which was trying to promote their own population made it really hard for women of that community to fit in because they were torn between two different movements. Or when it came to poor white women, or lesbian women. This was the primary difference between this wave and the next one.

When Kimberle Crenshaw came along and wrote about intersectionality, the third wave took on a more intersectional angle, criticised the second wave and everything wrong with it, and tried to set things right. Most of today’s stereotypes about the feminist movement probably are a result of the mistakes of the second wave, but ironically, if it wasn’t for that wave, feminism wouldn’t be where it is today. We could say that the world is in the third wave right now. Recognising savarna feminism, and persecuted women from minority communities, being more receptive to their rights, this is the feminism that we need to talk about right now.

While the first two waves allowed women to be able to run magazines like this one and talk fearlessly about their rights, the next wave started to talk about the rights of women from already persecuted communities.

Okay, so now that we’ve gone through the history, here are some different mindsets and types of feminism:


Egalitarian Feminists are those peeps that want the same rights as men, equal pay, equal participation and equal consideration – they see women exactly as capable as men are, and put themselves in a position that allows for them to make such demands. They believe, especially because the world is turning more and more intellectual, there aren’t any differences between men and women, and they don’t want special rights, they just want the exact same ones that men have.

Difference Feminists, on the other hand, believe men and women are biologically different, so it’s impossible to compare them. They believe women must celebrate how they’re different, rather than try to fit into the same societies that the men in their lives belong to. These are fundamental conceptual mindset differences between the different types.


Liberal Feminists are those feminists that are egalitarian in their approach to feminism. They don’t think sexual or biological differences are a metric for societal development and institutional perception. They think it’s extremely stereotypical to label all women as weak and all men as strong, and this works in either direction. These feminists, while not being against men, are against the existence of a male dominant status quo, and try to restructure and reorganise it to be more egalitarian.

Conservative Feminists, on the other hand, can belong to either egalitarian or difference mindsets, but one thing they agree on is that it isn’t worth the time or effort to oppose the patriarchy, or to change the existing status quo. They believe in existing familial structure, respect femininity and motherhood.

A better way to understand these two types of feminists would be by the Sabarimalai Judgement, for example. While a liberal feminist would be for allowing women access to the Ayyappa Temple, a conservative feminist wouldn’t, because they think there’s a cultural and customary justification for it; something that liberal feminists vehemently oppose as these cultural sources, according to them, were written amidst a patriarchal structure that oppressed these women.

Thirdly, there are Radical Feminists, who are exactly like the liberal feminists, except for the fact that  while liberal feminists accept the patriarchy and try to cause structural change from within it, radical feminists reject the patriarchal notion, and try to abolish it entirely. This is a more evolved and modern perception of radical feminism. Another older definition of this could be in the reference to the second wave where women were radical in the sense that they rejected men, and tried to push the scales in their favour instead. Today this isn’t the accepted definition, though.

Now apart from these, we’ve got various other types, for example Socialist Feminists, who give a lot of regard to the social and economic factors in society, they have belief in governmental intervention to balance the scales. They are against private property, against capitalism, and prioritise class politics over sexual politics. While most modern feminists disagree with them, they are an important type of feminism among many others.

So which one are you?

Further Reading

Here’s some further reading you could do, and even if you didn’t have the time to read entire books, go check out the Wikipedia pages and acquaint yourself because some of these books or movies that have truly transformed institutional and societal perception of women in society today.

  1. Mary Wollstonecraft’s Vindication of the Rights to Women
  2. Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique
  3. Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s Declaration of Sentiments
  4. Simone De Beauvoir’s The Second Sex
  5. Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own (yeah I already mentioned this up there)
  6. Kimberle Crenshaw’s writing in general (super relevant to feminism today)
  7. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s We Should All Be Feminists (I wrote a review of this a while back, do check it out here)
  8. Also, here’s an amazing documentary about the Second Wave – “She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry
  9. And also, a movie very ahead of its time, “Salt Of The Earth (1954)

Locker Room Chitchat


This story first appeared on Eyra Magazine on May 29, 2020

Context: This article was originally written in light of the Bois Locker Room incident. While this incident formed the basis for the article, it was not the linchpin in and of itself, but the incident was used to speak of certain pertinent issues that are as relevant as ever today.

In light of the recent Bois Locker Room incident, I just thought it made sense to speak a bit about everything that has happened, and the questions that have been raised because they have led me to reconsider a lot of things about our culture, especially with regard to the language we use, and the manner in which we convey our dissent or assent for a particular happening.


The minute I found the original post that summarised the screenshots of the vile and degrading language used by those specific boys in that particular group, I was immediately triggered, and naturally subscribed to the glorious clicktivism of our generation, where, in a fit of emotion I happened to speak out on my feed, and say what I felt regarding the boys involved in the matter, and those stories had me using certain strong words, to refer to the perpetrators. And naturally so, I felt justified in using those words to say what I said, because I assumed that an issue such as this involves the use of strong language to help move a point across.

A certain friend of mine, who I also happen to follow on the Gram, replied to that story, reprimanding my usage of one particular word, that isn’t really a bad word, but is used in a degrading manner by our generation. She would later go on to speak about the same kind of stuff in a later string of stories on her own account, changing a lot of how I perceived issues and tried to address them, especially the factor of using strong words to express intensity, which is what inspired me to write this.

Words are powerful things, and the freedom to use them is a grace bestowed on all of us. I happened to also witness an array of stories, an array of posts that spoke out against the matter, and I also witnessed different degrees of backlash against these posts, varying according to how strongly people in those posts had spoken about it. A certain video that was publicised largely, struck me the strongest. It was an IGTV video put up by a certain @moosejattana, where she addresses the most pertinent questions raised by the issue in a very dignified, specific manner, having made notes beforehand, and then referring to the things she wanted to talk about. Naturally, the dignity with which she addressed the issue struck a chord with not just me, but a million other people who shared the video on their own specific accounts.

At the same time, there was another post, which very interestingly, addressed the phenomena of the ‘notallmen’ hashtag, but this post took on the complete opposite of the manner in which @moosejattana handled the issue – it was angry. Very, very angry.

Now, generally, when you speak about something, there are bound to be people who disagree with what you’re saying, and more often than not, these people respond to tell you exactly that. Now, there were a similar array of posts, as I mentioned earlier, with varying degrees of moderation in both tone and language usage. Most interestingly, the dissenting responses, corresponded with the tone. The angry posts got angry replies, the less angry posts, got more civil replies – an interesting learning for me, someone that has always used his tone according to the intensity of the issue. A certain person in my life (Hello Dad!), since childhood, has told me the importance of tone in conversations you have with people, and how that can make or break a relationship, or can propagate healthy or unhealthy conversations, and all of this knowledge came barreling back to me.

So the whole point of this segment is to speak of how language and tone influence issues that need to be spoken about. It is mighty important to propagate civil conversation by using an easy to understand, easy to digest lexicon to make things clearer.

Now, this directly leads me to an entirely different issue altogether. Our culture is so interspersed with different usages of different words, that this in itself is perhaps the reason for how we have naturalised objectification of race, objectification of gender, and a myriad other issues. The best example is one of the women who spoke out against these locker room kids, who herself has been labelled a hypocrite, and rightly so, when we happen upon those screenshots which show her using the same sort of abusive language to speak to somebody else. The issue with this is, the very people against the cause she is fighting for have leverage against her, which they have naturally begun using to discredit the nobility of the original cause she was fighting for, which is saddening to say the least.

So language, and the generalisation of so many words that have seeped into our millennial consciousness, have resulted in our witnessing these atrocities, when we can’t even be sure what is black and white – making everything seem super grey. In many ways, language is a fault.

This directly leads me to the rape culture that evidently needs correction after these recent incidents.

Rape Culture

By definition, rape culture is propagated when people normalise rape and sexual advances because of gender norms in a particular society. How bad is the issue at home? Now first there were the screenshots showing the boys off for their depraved language, immediately after which, there were posts labeling the women who called the men out as hypocrites, and now there are posts showing screenshots of women ‘bitching’ about other men and other women, comparing this to the original boys locker room, sending a ripple effect across social media. So, this rape culture is a lot more entrenched than we think it is.

We have gotten so used to hearing sexualised sentences, sexualised conversations, all of which unbeknownst to us, have created an invisible rift between genders, questioning how we can hold anything sacred in all of this mess, which has finally, today, resulted in an amalgamation, a breaking point, that sort of broke with the first screenshots that appeared on Twitter.

It is interesting that what we are labeling as wrong, what we are labeling as ‘locker room conversations’, seem to be everyday conversation for such a large chunk of our generation, that any single screenshot of 80% of the conversations you’ve had, has the probability of being perceived and labelled as a locker room type of rape culture.

We first have the patriarchy, instilling hetero-normative ideals, after which it goes on to assign gender roles, which already create labels that have stretched apart our understanding of what we consider right and wrong, with human response time, or rather, the level at which we get offended, being super low. And then we, the super illustrious GenZ, blame religion, blame society, blame all the uncles and aunties and the movies we have watched. All of this we blame for having ‘socially conditioned’ us, but then, we go pick up our phones and talk about the same stuff using all the f words and the b words in all languages, and that leaves us even worse off than before, because of how we’re normalising things. These are merely words signifying their meaning, but the way we use them have made them bad.

Never has peer pressure created such an atmosphere of fear, such an atmosphere of chagrin among our social media platforms that so many of us stay silent when we watch stuff like this happen.

This is an indelible reason for rape culture having been extended to the extent that it has, but of course, it wouldn’t be possible without one other reason, a culture shock that has gripped our wonderful generation by its throat – meme culture.

Meme Culture

Now, you know what this is already about, even if you wouldn’t openly acknowledge it. Well, I wouldn’t want to not talk about it simply because it is dear to mine and your hearts, but it is, in many ways, the invisible elephant in the room.

Is there a definition for it? In recent times, it is perhaps the strongest instrument of protest, of expressing dissent, the strongest way of making an actual difference – and with great power comes great responsibility, as Uncle Ben (God rest his soul) once said. Memes have been used to discredit brutal dictators, memes have been used to sing protest songs, memes have photo-shopped favourite ministers onto the faces of favourite actresses, memes have utilised irony, sarcasm, better than William Shakespeare could ever have dreamed of doing, but the extent of this sarcasm is such that it has normalized our conversations that touch upon these specific topics, which, while not directly a bad thing, are mixing sense of humour into topics that are tense, albeit inappropriate, and we’ve morphed into a culture that laughs it off for its dankness or nonsensicalness, but that, my friends, is where the problem begins, because, you see, we’ve already started laughing it off.

Now the majority of us (I hope that’s the case) recognise a meme for being a meme that is intended to poke at something, make us laugh, and forget. But a twin tower meme shown to a 9/11 first responder; or a gas chamber meme shown to someone that’s a Nazi sympathizer, only tends to create a feeling of animosity, or anger, or in the worst of cases, a feeling of identifying with a particular meme (such as a meme about genocide or mass murder), which encourages wrongdoing, because those of us – the majority of us, that laugh at these particular memes, do so without knowing the entire historical background, or even if we do know, we simply label the meme for what it is, a meme, and we, once again, laugh it off.

The whole incident that’s cropped up on Instagram, is perhaps a wake-up call of some sort, that we have to think twice before we do things, but that is perhaps the least that we can do because at the end of the day, the memes cannot be stopped. We will continue to witness them; we will continue to hear, and understand, and process them; we will continue to laugh them off. The least I can do, is perhaps tell you to be aware of who you’re exposing a particular meme to, especially when they have gender based overtones of bigotry, which, while funny to most, will be ‘relatable’ to some. And it is that ‘some’ that we have to worry about.

Say YES to the Birthday Party?


This story first appeared on Forefront Media and News on July 13, 2020

Context: This story was originally written rapper Kanye West announced that he would be running for the US Elections. Since then, Joe Biden has won the presidency, and Kanye West was not successful in his endeavours.

Make a happy-go-lucky hip-hop album in the gangsta beat world of 2004? Check. Make a video of naked wax figurines of “famous” people and then run a song over it? Check. Design shoes and clothes, because why not? Check. Stage-storm the VMA awards and call the winner’s music undeserving? Check. Make lewd statements against your own race and then use the publicity to release an album? Check.

Wake up one morning and decide that you’ve got to be president and run a Wakanda-style White House? Check?

A day after an image of Kanye West and Elon Musk, two of the most iconic individuals on the planet, went viral, Kanye announced that he’s decided to run for president – a plan that he’d originally intended to put into action in 2024. A lot of absolutely hilarious things have come to light ever since that day, and it’s primarily to do with Kanye’s very interesting press conference with Forbes magazine which resulted in Elon Musk saying on Twitter that he himself didn’t anticipate these differences of opinion (on vaccination and abortion for starters). This tweet seems to have been later taken down, but there’s a lot to unpack within what’s transpired.

The first important question, is Kanye even running at all? Secondly, if he is running, what exactly would that mean for the Biden-Trump face-off?

As of this moment, there is no real indication of Ye running apart from the original tweet, as well as the press conference during which he said that he would run as an independent candidate unless Trump dropped out of the race, in which case he would run Republican. An article written by the Independent mentions that there have been two nominations under West’s name, but both seem to be illegitimate. There are many steps that one must take to register themselves with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) as a Presidential Candidate, all of which are time-bound. These filings and formalities are especially important if one were to run as an independent candidate, in which case Ye’s already missed the deadline in a large number of states. He is in a precarious position where he needs a certain number of signatures in a short amount of time, but if he used his money to achieve this, that in itself could come under FEC scrutiny for being legally untenable.

A last resort could be the write-in ballot (a way to get people to vote for you without being officially listed), but of course this too requires registration in some states.

Which brings us to that big question: even if he somehow managed to scrape his way onto the ballot, would he get the votes?

This is where we stop to analyse his very elaborate policy.

Kanye West says abortions are inherently wrong.

Kanye West defends a poor black officer who did not step in to stop the bad white officer from killing George Floyd.

Kanye West says he’s never voted before this election.

Kanye West says vaccines are the “mark of the beast”.

Kanye West says Democrats force his community to vote for them.

Kanye West says Joe Biden is “not special” and Kanye definitely is (cue song No. 9 off of The Life of Pablo)

Kanye West says the coronavirus is God’s punishment.

Kanye West hasn’t “developed” his views on foreign policy but Kanye West LOVES China (he says it’s because his Mom used to teach English there). He also says he’s bringing the NBA back, and that COVID-19 wasn’t their fault at all.

Kanye West hasn’t done his “research” on a lot of things, but he knows there’s a lot of chemicals in toothpaste that need to be removed because they stop citizens from doing their “service to God”.

This is the very Kanye West who grabbed a $68 million tax refund (courtesy Donald Trump), and then went on to start a church of his own (because Jesus is King) which means he has been endowed with many more tax benefits.

So, the way it seems to be panning out at the moment, Kanye West has made some statements that put even Donald Trump to shame, and his extravagant nature might cause him to lose out on votes. The few “fans” that might actually vote for him will probably end up taking votes out of Biden’s chunk, and it’s pretty unclear as to whether even the Black Vote is his to take, especially considering how clearly Republican his views have always been; not to mention his whole interview stint at TMZ, which went pretty viral when it first came out.

Overall it looks as if Kanye’s presence is of minor significance to the presidential race, which depends on both his making it to the ballot as well as his actually gathering the votes — votes that if gathered would lead us to safely conclude that Kanye isn’t going to be winning, and Biden’s vote bank just got diluted.

In other news, Trump sits in the side-lines with a grin on his face.