07/07/2016 6:33 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:27 AM IST

Should Only Women Write About Feminism?

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Leading feminist portal Feminism In India (FII) recently announced that they have changed their editorial policy and that men won't be allowed to write on women's experiences for them anymore. They also added that upper caste people and heterosexuals will not be allowed to write on Dalit and LGBT issues respectively. The reason behind this policy, FII said, was that they wanted "no appropriation".

This is what they tweeted:

Twitter exploded in response.

What FII probably did not anticipate was that their decision would open out a much complex and wider debate: Should those who do not belong to a certain community be allowed to write about issues affecting it?

FII said their policy is not about excluding non-members but about putting them at the centre of the discourse. Some welcomed this view.

The discussion soon turned to feminism and gender issues, not specifically related to FII’s policy.

FII clarified they were not asking anyone to leave. Allies would always remain allies.

While feminism is about women’s rights and issues related to their lives, it is not only limited to women. It generally addresses the evil of patriarchy and just about anyone -- of any gender identity and sexual orientation -- can be affected by it.

Similarly, people supporting the causes of LGBT and Dalit communities may do so entirely for the principle of it, without sharing any of the identity politics of the members of these communities. Surely, this shouldn’t make their voices any less pertinent to these movements.

You may or may not agree with FII’s policy, but there’s no denying the fact that it has opened an important can of worms around debates on gender and minority rights in India.