I am not a feminist. I am a student of feminism.

I am not a liberal. I am trying to get liberated from the shackles that bind me, every single day.

The society is not sexist. It never told me that deeply gendered biases exist in it, and it is not okay to not address them.

The society is not patriarchal. Patriarchy is ingrained in the heads of the people who make up society. Patriarchy almost got ingrained in me.

I have read detailed accounts of womxn being harassed online, and cringed. A part of me has looked within, and felt a tinge of guilt. Because I had bothered womxn whom I had sexually objectified in my head, with unwanted romantic advances online, even though at that instant they felt innocent and polite. My inner sexism had egged me on in my online stalking activities. A long, long time ago, I had ended up in the ‘Others’ folder of womxn I got interested in from their online presence.

I had once almost forcefully kissed my then ex-partner. A long, long time ago.

I was made aware about my internal biases and sexist behaviours, by a man friend. Since then, I have tried to change myself.

It’s been long. I have changed a lot. Hopefully, I am a better person today.

I have felt accepted and humbled by the genuine friendliness that my womxn friends have showered on me. I hope I have been able to give a part of it back. None of them probably know that I have had a dark past as well.

I still have my moments of slip. Till last year, I used to glorify virginity in my head.

As recently as last month, I made an unfortunate comment on Twitter: I called a deeply sexist public figure ‘feminazi’ due to her deeply sexist behaviour while claiming herself a feminist. I was not doing myself any good, was I?

I am stumbling, and I am falling, but I am learning everyday. I am holding on to the belief that I can be a better person tomorrow than I am today. That someday, I will have conquered all my inner sexism — so that when I look myself in the eye on the mirror, I can tell myself that I am doing fine as a student of feminism. That I have not had a fall in this regard in a long while.

I am succeeding as a student every time I am learning to identify my own internal biases before it can make a mark in the world, however small. It’s hard. But I am trying.

I am succeeding every time my well-meaning male friend makes a comment reflecting his sexist biases, and I end up talking to him and helping him come to the conclusion that what he thinks does not make any logical sense. I am succeeding every time I am not putting off otherwise good-natured guys exhibiting socially ingrained sexism, with call-outs that do more harm than good — but showing them what exactly is wrong, and why.

I am succeeding every time I am putting a sense of nagging doubt in the head of guys around me, that they have internalised biases that are deeply sexist, over the years for no fault of their own. And that admitting them and working on them don’t make them any less of a ‘man’.

I am succeeding every time I am telling myself that there is no need to feel proud of the way I have traversed, but I have a long way to go still. It is a tough battle. The battle is with my own mind. Because one may not know an act is sexist while committing it. Because one cannot identify a sexist thought until the thought is identified as ingrained in sexism. I am succeeding as a student of feminism every time I am identifying my sexist thoughts.

It’s hard. It’s very, very hard.

I have been a victim of sexism, for no fault of my own.

I have been told repeatedly that I should not cry because it’s unbecoming of a boy. By other boys.

As a child, I have been sexually molested by another boy. And never been able to tell anyone about it, until recently.

I have been exposed to a deeply unequal society that has skewed my ideas of romantic love since when I was a child.

I have been subjected to deeply sexist expectations of the society that have succeeded in instilling in me deeply sexist thoughts that I am painfully overcoming every single day.

I have been sexually abused by my partner as recently as a year and half back, and not identified it as such at that time.

I have been subjected to hatred by anonymous trolls on the internet who have spread lies about me and character-assassinated me simply because they disliked me for reasons best known to them. These trolls have then backed away when I have confronted them with the truth in full public view.

You see, I am both the black and the white. You see, I am gray.

You see, I am both the old and the new. You see, I change everyday.

You see, I am neither pure nor frozen. I am moving, I am rolling, I am evolving.

Hopefully, I am not gathering any more moss than I started off with. Hopefully, I am shedding more and becoming what I should be: the rock that does not distinguish between genders in his head.

Hopefully, I will never have to stop. It may be hard, but I am loving the journey.

Hopefully, I won’t ever stop being a student of feminism. Even if that doesn’t ever make me a feminist.

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