Yesterday, I came across a quiz “What kind of feminist are you?” on Facebook. My first thought was “Am I even a feminist?”. Being an introvert, I consider myself to be the opposite of an Extremist. Well, this quiz seemed like a good way to find out. It had interesting and relatable questions. To my surprise, the result was that I am an “Unapologetic Feminist”. Hmm… really am I? I don’t openly support any feminist causes. I do believe in the equality of sexes, but don’t openly support a feminist group or condemn a masculinist group. What does this mean then?
“Boys don’t cry, be a man!”
“He is so gay!”
A person tells a racist joke and covers up as “I was just kidding!”
“For an Asian, you speak very good English.”
“You’re a transgender? You don’t look like one!”
“Why are you behaving this way? Are you on your period?”
“Are you a retard?”
“Do you even know what Snapchat is?”
“Lose some weight, you will look so hot!”
I have been victim to bias and have even inflicted it on others. It has all become so innate in our ideology, that we do not even pause to think what the issue is. The bias is implanted in our brain as early as childhood and thus, we never question it.
But you know why I wrote about it today because I feel like a hypocrite at times. My loved one made a racist remark, and I said nothing. I did not want to have an uncomfortable conversation. There was a storm within me, but I shrugged it off thinking they won’t get it. This hasn’t happened just once. I have witnessed several people callously using such racist or sexist remarks and each time I said nothing. My intent was not to support them, but my silence seemed like an agreement. I did not realize that my silence was actually an encouragement.
I do not support any one category; I support the rights and equality of all categories. I have praised the men in my family when they help-out in the kitchen. But why? It is their house too. The women cannot only be held accountable for household chores.
We tend to stereotype people. Everyone is required to belong to a category and conform with its rules. One’s perception of a man’s flamboyant behaviour may raise eyebrows about his sexual orientation. It is not ok! Very casually we use words like lunatic, mental etc. for people who do not behave the way we want them to. In fact, bias is not just aimed at others, it is also what we think of ourselves and how we internalize it negatively. “I am fat! I am not desirable.” The society has instilled in our brains that thin is beautiful and fat it undesirable. You are beautiful just the way you are. Do understand the difference between “My body is fat” and “I am fat”.
Stop it. Unlearn. Reset. Relearn.
It’s better to be late than sorry. I urge you to take the first step and sensitize people around you.
- Educate yourself – Read up on basic biases. There is a plethora of articles, books, blogs, and posts on social media to sensitize this subject. Identify your own bias. You may find that you have all sorts of bias, but don’t give up. You at least took the first step! Keep up!
- Sensitize your family members and friends – Let us not shy away from talking about the stigma. Share your insights from step 1 with your loved ones. Try to have an open dialogue and encourage all to speak, even if they disagree.
- Embrace diversity in all walks of life – Change starts with you. Once you know you are biased, try your best to open your minds to people’s choices
Take a vow with me that you will choose the discomfort of a difficult conversation. At least make a start! If you want the freedom to live the way you want to, you must extend the same courtesy to others.
Be a reason for the other person’s smile, not grief.
Speak your mind.