Gender Roles, Gender Neutrality, Feminism, Lisa Haydon… What Else Is Trending Right Now?
What else is trending right now? Red. A red shirt to be particular. Following the minimalist resurgence of post-recession era in late 2000s, the fierce colour was reduced to Valentine’s Day outfit in favour of nudes, blues & whites for larger utility scene. However GQ India’s latest issue places a classic red shirt in centre of their Spring/Summer trend spread, thereby marking the return of bold decisions.
Speaking about bold decisions, Lisa Haydon gave an audacious interview yesterday and it certainly didn’t go well with the infamous feminists of Twitter. In response to the query asking if feminism is often misconstructed, Lisa opened the hornet’s nest by claiming, “I don’t like the word feminist. I don’t think women trying to be men is feminism.”
Lisa Haydon is entitled to her choice to like or dislike the word “feminist”. The real question –is feminism often misconstructed in our era? If PC is hailed for claiming that only reason she needs a man is to produce babies & Tiger Shroff is criticised for desiring a wife who can take care of home… of course, the modern feminists often misconstruct feminism.
When Lisa Haydon says, “Women have been given these bodies to produce children, and the spirit and tenderness to take care of people around us. I don’t want to be a man,” she clearly refers to biological role (decided by hormones & organs) rather than social role of a woman. There is nothing anti-women by taking pride in what biologically differentiates women from men. Yes, women are gifted with bodies to produce babies. Nowhere did Lisa Haydon claim that it’s the only duty of a woman or that it’s a compulsion and there’s nothing anti-women in embracing motherhood with pride.
Lisa Haydon goes on to add, “One day I look forward to making dinner for my husband and children. I don’t want to be a career feminist.”
If Lisa Haydon uses the term, “career feminist”, it’s more likely that she understands feminism better than most of the other feminists criticising her. There are liberal feminists, radical feminists, socialist feminists and many other fractions of feminism ever since Charles Fourier first coined the term “feminisme” in French. Career feminists are the stereotypical feminists whose biggest priority is career and everything comes next. Lisa was accused of advocating gender roles here but seriously… it’s her personal choice if she is looking forward to making dinner for her family and prioritizes family over career. It’s not the duty of a random feminist hiding behind a computer screen to dictate and decide choices for Lisa Haydon. As someone who has studied various research papers on gender equality, gender roles, gender expression, gender neutrality and feminism, I personally felt Lisa Haydon carefully chose her words to criticise the misconstructed feminism of our era. It takes serious courage to speak your heart & I dedicate this outfit post to Lisa Haydon for opening up dialogues & debates on gender roles, gender expression and feminism.
Be bold like red. Be neutral like grey. Be open to change like fashion trends. The trendy red and grey separates, designed & constructed by myself aims to look beyond gender constructs of masculinity and femininity. The look rejects what’s perceived as masculine or feminine. It shuns & dismantles the ideas that tag a certain appearance or behaviour as masculine or feminine. Unlike sexual constructs decided by biological anatomy, gender roles are social constructs dictated by society. Gender expressions are actually the result of constant negotiations between an individual’s sense of self and the feedback acquired through social interactions that are constantly subject to change. We are fed with ethics and morals that teach us to pursue socially acceptable gender-specific activities. If not for the social expectations and pressure, a boy child’s inclination towards pink is otherwise just as normal as a girl child’s interest in athletic activities. This gender neutral outfit reflects the ongoing social revolution that frees individuals from gender dichotomy. It shuns gender specific norms while still being inclusive to every sex – male, female, transsexual and other self-identified classifications.
The gender revolution widens up to celebrating personal choices & freedom devoid of gender specific judgements. Freedom of expression. Freedom of choice. Freedom from patriarchy. Freedom from matriarchy too. A little research and study will reveal that feminism doesn’t have a clean history like feminists want you to believe. But that doesn’t take away the magnanimous achievements and contributions of feminist movements in empowering women. Everything including feminism has its own pros and cons. It doesn’t matter if an individual identifies as a feminist or not. What really matters is if a person is sexist or not. There are feminists who are sexist. There are people who do not identify themselves as feminist and yet advocate gender equality.
One of the biggest problem with feminists is that they’ve established the idea that social status of men is normalcy and gender issues are about how social status of women deviates from that norm. Gender norms of masculinity and femininity are a two edged sword that subjects both men and women to social stigma and pressure. If feminists complain about men’s privilege in outdoor roles, they fail to see how a man doesn’t have the privilege to be a non-earning member who can meddle with the kitchen without drawing judgments from both men and women. The mere fact that I am a male means, my views are invalid to most feminists since I am not a woman and I apparently enjoy “male privilege”. It’s blatant sexism when feminists claim that an individual isn’t capable of rational judgement on gender dichotomy because of biological sex. “Male privilege” is a rather myopic term. Feminists citing male privilege love to look at men in top position of society and completely ignore the much larger population of men reserved to do the dirty jobs. Irrespective of what gender role equality suggests in theory, no man would want their women to do the dirty jobs in coal mines, manual scavenging or compulsory military service as advocated in few societies. Some gender roles are decided by biology and many other gender roles are simply social constructs. It’s our duty to let go of sexist social constructs and proudly embrace biological roles for equitable coexistence of sexes. Our biological differences only make us different, not superior or inferior to the other.
Costume Design & Styling – Purushu Arie
Photographs by KumAr Photography