What is It to be a Feminist in a Conservative Family?

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This article discusses some of the personal experiences of a woman who considers herself a feminist. It would showcase how difficult it is to hold on feminist principles and what it takes to follow its principles. First, it becomes what feminism is. Feminism is a doctrine that broadly aims to make an equal society for all, but in a narrow sense, it deals with gender equality and gender justice.

        Feminism attempts to abolish the patriarchal system that maintains a hierarchical relationship among genders. In the hierarchy, men are on the top and the most privileged gender while women come after the men. Whereas third gender or non-binary people are at the bottom, and most oppressed and marginalized. To be a feminist is to be in favor of equality for all genders. Feminism, as a movement, in a nutshell, is a struggle of gender equality.

Image Credit: Markus Winkler

However, the struggle starts when you find gender inequality in your home, and you want to change it by questioning it. It is not an easy thing to do. Fighting with the whole world is perhaps easier than fighting and questioning your own family.

   First, it is difficult to remain silent if you know the problem, and you can do something about it. Second, what I promise myself is that I would not contribute to the running of the patriarchal system. I also know that something does not change in just a few days, but it is a long process. To not contribute to the patriarchal system, I stopped my self serving the men of my family. I stopped serving food and water to my elder brother and sometimes to my father also.

As a feminist, I am against all the behaviors and beliefs that cause inequality and oppression. Therefore, I also start arguing in support of the people of the oppressed community. I start calling out and questioning casteist, communalist, and sexist remarks and stereotypes.

    What is the consequence? I am the rotten apple of the family. I was being blamed for speak up for myself. I was shamed for being educated. My family is considered as one of the progressive family in our village as they ‘allowed’ their daughters to pursue higher education and does not force her to marry. But what is the purpose of education? Or only to secure a job or getting a good match for marriage?

The purpose of education is to encourage critical thinking that will help you to recognize your rights and to question the social rules and principles that promote inequality and oppression. When an oppressed community get educated and start questioning, it is blamed and shamed. That is why the process of social change becomes slow.

   Sometimes, I feel too tired of arguing aginst the inequality or not doing what ‘I am supposed to do as a woman,’ but I keep doing it in the hope that my struggle would create a more equal atmosphere for the women of the next generation in my family. This hope strengthens me constantly.

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