Analysis: Desist trolls, Alia Bhatt is a feminist and is not afraid to say so

After a magazine cover said Alia Bhatt says she is not a feminist, the actress was trolled. Her rebuttal of the statement came with a message for all of us.

Written by Jyoti Sharma Bawa | New Delhi | Published:September 15, 2016 3:28 pm
Alia Bhatt, Alia Bhatt trolled, Alia Bhatt feminism, Alia Bhatt Twitter, Alia Bhatt image Alia Bhatt was trolled for apparently saying she is not a feminist. But is she a feminist or not?

Is Alia Bhatt a feminist? That is a question which was worrying a lot of people on Tuesday night. The actress gave an interview to a magazine, Cosmopolitan if you must know, and the cover proudly said ‘Alia Bhatt – on Fashion, FOMO and why she’s Not a feminist.’

The outrage was imminent and expected. Hate messages against Alia were many as were the memes, something we guess Alia has learnt to live with (cue the Prithviraj Chauhan is the President of India answer on Karan Johar’s show).

So vitriolic were the reactions that Alia had to explain on Twitter, “To clarify, I absolutely AM a feminist. To deny feminism would be to deny equality for my gender. What I *meant* to say was that I’m not an active part of a feminist campaign right now!! That’s it :).”

Before jumping to conclusions — Twitter’s favourite exercise — we decided to go through what Alia had really said in the interview. This is what she had to say in the interview: “I don’t think most people understand what a feminist really means. To be honest, I wouldn’t call myself a feminist, either. I think the phrase is a heavy one. I’m often asked–‘Are you a feminist?’ ‘Do you have issues with men?’ My response is simple; that a feminist is a woman who supports women. She doesn’t hate men.”

Feminism is not about hating men. It is neither about burning bras. It is about demanding equality, it is about standing up for your rights.

She is also all for giving the men their due and she can’t be more right for painting all men as bad is the narrowest view you can have of feminism. For it is all about being equal — men, women, transgenders, gays or any other colour of this vivid rainbow.

Alia goes on to says, “Any woman that feels like a man is getting more rights than her jumps up and says ‘I’m a feminist’. But a real feminist is someone who takes up a cause for other women–whether it’s education, employment, or helping out rape and molestation victims. I think unless you’ve chosen that path, you can’t call yourself one.”

This is where I disagree. Standing up and demanding rights for yourself is very much the beginning of demanding equality. The next step is then asking equality for others. If feminism may sound heavy Alia, call it what you will — humanism, equality or what have you — as long as you live and breathe its basic premise. And Alia’s life choices, her career arc and her life itself show that this actress is a feminist.

Like all of us, a woman trying to find her place in the world and maybe baulking at using a term, which comes with its own history. But it is this history which has made us what we are today — independent women who can call their body and mind their own. There are caveats here and there, we fail at it at times but essentially, feminism is a movement whose fruits we are all reaping today. A lot more needs to be done, especially by youth icons like Alia. And, therefore, her tweet establishing her as an icon is a good news.