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Written by Aashka Murdeshwar

INGLEWOOD, CA - AUGUST 24: Beyonce performs onstage at the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards at The Forum on August 24, 2014 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)

Ever since I can remember I’ve identified as a feminist. I never really understood what this term meant but I guess through various medias such as television, social media, school, etc. I just blindly adopted the term; my thought process being, “Well I think being a woman is awesome so of course I’m a feminist” For me, an understanding of equality was always omnipresent, mostly due to the privileged lifestyle I grew up in where gender discrimination wasn’t ever blatantly present. However, one day when I was sixteen in my Extension English class, one of my male classmates said, “Feminists are so annoying, they all hate men. Men and women should be treated equally”. This statement left me slightly perplexed; I believed in gender equality, and I definitely wasn’t a “man- hater”, was I not a feminist?

After years of hesitation, late night Internet research, and then some more hesitation I can proudly say I’m a Feminist as opposed to an equalist, humanist or any other common variant of the word. The simple reason being that Feminism is defined as the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. (I’m not just saying this, it’s in the Oxford Dictionary and that’s as legitimate as you can get!).

So why call it Feminism? Many would argue that this term is irrelevant and to some extent almost contradictory to what feminist claims advocate. Why does a term that is defined as the belief of gender equality skew to one gender? To understand this it is important to understand where this term originated from. The word Feminism comes from the French word ‘feminisme’, and was first used in English during the 1890s in association with the movement for equal political and legal rights for women.  Now before you stop reading this article and think, “See! It’s all about women, not about equality” just think about what exactly the equality of both genders means. Gender equality is what I believe to be the right for any person to make decisions without pre-conceived notions of gender influencing those decisions. Throughout history this did not exist, and it was the female gender and stereotypically ‘feminine’ attributes that were undermined. Yes, Feminism was originally a movement begun by women for women, but its aim was to uplift women to the same position of power men were already in.

feminism definition

If you flip through the pages of any history book, it is very evident that men had acquired a position of power from the very beginning and did everything in their power to maintain this position of privilege. However, within their desperation to maintain their privilege, they inadvertently begun to damage their own gender by demeaning qualities that were not hyper masculine, i.e. any expression of sensitivity or emotion other than that of dominance and aggression. Feminism was the only movement in past times and -to a certain extent even in today’s time- that aimed to educate and advocate that the exhibition of emotions other than of dominance was not a sign of weakness but just a sign of being a fully functioning human. Furthermore, feminists also tried to demonstrate that just because some women were less likely to exhibit aggressive and dominating behaviour; it did not mean they were incapable of holding positions of influence or being of equal or higher intellect than their male counterparts.

In our present times, Feminism is still a relevant movement. I agree that in comparison to the past, both men and women have reached a position of greater equality; for example there is less stigma associated with people entering careers that were originally associated with genders opposite their own and the wage gap has significantly decreased (though it still does exist; according to Institute for Women’s Policy Research, in 2015, women earned 79c for every 1 dollar a man earned in the US). However, a disparity still exists. For example, in 2015 only 14.2% of the top five leadership positions at the companies in the S&P 500 are held by women (according to CNN Money) suggesting that in the corporate world the glass ceiling does exist, sure it’s higher than what it was 20 years ago but it is still present. These examples just encompass the status of the privileged women in the West, however, in other parts of the world, many women are still fighting for basic voting rights, education and driving privileges.

gender equal opportunity or representation
gender equal opportunity or representation

Feminism fought for women to have the same place in history as men. Feminism fights to put everyone on the same level as does equality so why fear the word?

If you believe that men and women deserve to be equal then despite your denial, you embody the definition of a Feminist and there is no reason to be afraid. It just means that you are part of movement that is named after those who were initially oppressed.

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Written by Aashka Murdeshwar (ME2/15) / Photographs by Andrew Octavian (MB1/14)

On the 6th of May, the backcourt of IMU was encapsulated in clouds of pink, blue and green. The vibrations of the loud bass masked the sounds of excited cheers and laughter; it was that time of the year again, it was Holi.

Holi is a Hindu spring festival celebrated in many regions of South East Asia. It traditionally symbolizes the start of a new season, where one can forget the negativity from the past year and embrace a newfound positivity. The Indian and Sri Lankan Cultural Society as well as the Hindu Society aimed to spread this positive message within IMU through the celebration of this festival, along with indirectly promoting diversity within the various cultural groups present in IMU’s campus.

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As eloquently put by the president of IMU’s Hindu society Yuvithra Devi Shanmugan, “Holi is a celebration which brings society together and strengthen the secular fabric of IMU’s community just with colors”. This year’s Holi celebration achieved just that by hosting over a 100 students all from different courses and cultural backgrounds within IMU. “We were glad that a significant number of non Indian students from IMU turned up and celebrated the joyous festival together with full enthusiasm. Overall, we were pleased and more than satisfied with the participation and the welcoming for this event” Yuvithra elaborated. The event provided a fun filled meeting ground for students as well as staff in the IMU community to talk to each other and make new friends, outside their courses and faculties.

“Holi is a celebration which brings society together and strengthen the secular fabric of IMU’s community just with colors.” – Yuvithra, President of IMU’s Hindu Society

There was a range of different colors students could buy as well yummy food items sold at the events such as doughnuts and tarts that kept participants of the festival energized throughout the night.  The event is usually celebrated with not just colors but also a water fight, so balloons filled with water were flung across the basketball court and buckets filled with water were poured all over unassuming victims by their friends. As the event came to a close, staff and students left in a myriad of colors and a smile on their faces demonstrating how wonderful the event had been.

In my own opinion, this event symbolized the very essence of what IMU’s student community believes in: positivity and togetherness. The colour-filled celebration brought together various cultures and communities within IMU, proving that this university is a rainbow; each person colorful and different, but most powerful and beautiful when united as one.

For more photos of this event, check out the Holi album on our Facebook page! Spread the colors! Thank you

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