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What’s in a name?

March 15, 2010

So, I’ve been reviewing minivan news and our facebook group comments and one thing that I noticed from otherwise liberal people (I don’t really care about Haabee opinions) is that there is a general sense of apprehension against the word feminism. There was even one comment from a person who, quite haughtily, told us to move on and asked us whether we’ve heard of something called ‘post feminism’. So consequently I asked myself the question. As women, why are we shying away from the label feminist? I couldn’t think of an obvious answer so I asked myself again, why was it so important for us (Rehendi team) that we classify this group as a feminist group and not use less controversial terms such as ‘women’s movement’ or add something about children’s rights just to appear more legitimate?

Bra burners, butches and man haters?

I guess the caricature feminist is not exactly society’s poster child of beauty and amicability. When you Google image the word feminists the images that come up will quite nicely sum it up for you. Here’s one for your amusement.

No apologies!

So why did we identify with the label? First of all because feminism is a POLITICAL movement whose underlying premise is that societies that are dominantly patriarchic suppress their women. On the foundation of this premise, feminists fight to change the existing power structure of society by questioning the validity of such structures through whatever means necessary. The power structure I am referring to is not limited to the public sphere.

Feminists believe that the personal is political. If you get raped and tortured in jail, it is commonly believed to be human rights abuses. As feminists, we are putting forward the idea that if you get tortured and raped by your husband that is ALSO a human rights abuse. So what I am saying is that as feminists we are politicizing the women’s issue. As feminists we don’t just want micro loans for our micro business. We want the right to get the loans without out husband/father/guardians permission. Simply put, we want to be able to have equal footing in society and not be treated as minors with a steward. We demand full citizenry. In the eyes of the law and society both.

This does not mean that we do not value and cherish the relationships we have with the men in our lives, we do, we just don’t want to have to get their permission every time we use the loo. And that my friend, is not asking for too much.

I am not a feminist BUT,

So friends and foes, if you believe in the humanity of women and think that men and women both make up the human race and that women are not a deviance from the proto-type Man, then dear reader, whether you burn your bra, wear it or send it to Sheikh Fareed, you are a feminist.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Aishath Manike permalink
    March 17, 2010 11:08 am

    Good point ladies. We shouldn’t apologise to demand what is ours.

  2. March 20, 2010 6:01 pm

    Feminism has become a four letter word, conjuring images of unwashed dominant loud masculine women. The radical element of feminism has to take part of the blame for this perception as well.

    However, I think that Maldivian women who are speaking out against injustice to women shouldnt really argue about what brand of feminism they belong to. Liberal, radical, post feminist, it doesnt matter, women should just rally together, be pro active and fight against the imported patriarchy and misogyny thats trying to take away our peaceful and moderate culture towards the rights of women. It doesnt really matter what our theoretical orientation is, the fact is that we all want a better life for women in this country.

  3. veiled permalink
    March 28, 2010 8:24 pm

    Could you please clarify what you mean by ‘Haabee’ here?

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