Revolution and revolts have been existent from the time since a section of human beings started setting rules and a section of the same species found it irrational as times changed. We, as a community has been very reluctant in considering that not everyone has the same perspective and we cannot vouch for everyone. But, hence we have failed in understanding that, special movements are required to provide people the ‘luxury’ of enjoying their rights. Similarly, feminism was born.
Gender inequality has been there for a very long time. Women have been subjected to unnecessary restrictions that might sound bizarre at present but cannot be neglected. Women have been confined to specific boundaries just because they have a different pair of chromosomes than men. Is not it inhumane to deprive almost half of the world’s population of certain rights and their respect, reasoning something that is out of their control?
Feminism is an ideology, a feeling, that says that all sexes irrespective of their socio-economic background or religion are equal. But why the term feminism? For, violence against women became common citing different reasons such as marriage, religion, society, etc. The arbitrary became so harsh that all these made it essential to give an ideology that protects women and provides them with the liberty that they have been denied for a very long time. It does not provide women with an upper hand or benefits that might make them superior to men, but just gives a provision of equality, that men and women are the same and deserve the same amounts of liberty and respect.
Men achieved voting rights in France in 1846 but it was granted to women only in 1946. Why 100 years, later? There is no explanation other than patriarchy. Women were denied entry into the Olympics just stating their gender as the reason. In Ancient Olympics they were not even allowed to be part of the audience. It was only in 1900 that they became a part of the event.
Women have been fighting for a long time for their rights. These events in history made it essential for movements that helped women defy the societal norms which were otherwise harder for them to break. But, neither was it confined only to women, feminism is a wide umbrella that secures the rights of men and women alike. No definition of feminism says only ‘Women’ need to rule over the world.
PATRIARCHY AND SEXISM
It is a social system in which men hold the primary power and predominate in roles of political leadership, moral authority, social privilege, and control of property. Some patriarchal societies are also patrilineal, meaning that property and title are inherited by the male lineage. Women are largely excluded from power. Patriarchy and sexism are the main reasons why society needs feminism. The citizens of patriarchal society, termed as sexists, are the ones who always question the ideals of feminism. So, within this, a second term rises, i.e., sexism. To be short and precise, sexism is gender bias. Sexism can affect anyone, but it primarily affects women. It is associated with prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination. Sexism gives rise to gender discrimination and related societal evils.
A professor once said, “If civilization had been left in female hands we would still be living in grass huts.” What does this mean? Are women weaker than men when it comes to wisdom and rule? Why do we always see women as weak characters who can just be servants and not masters? Women also have the courage and power to rule. They can also make wise decisions. Leadership is not a gender-specific skill. Not only leaders but also good leaders. Feminism aims at bringing this ideology among people that women can stand equal to men in every field of life, whether it is administration, medical, or the protective forces of the country, the army, and the navy.
Everybody who chooses to speak on gender equality never fails to elucidate the crimes and injustice showered on women for centuries untold, which are indeed unpardonable and plenty. As of the twentieth century, this society has empowered women with so many rights and sympathy, that instead of propagating feminism, they are encouraging pseudo- feminism. Pseudo feminists are people who propagate feminism but do not know what it actually is. They state feminism as a fight against men. According to them, feminism aims at women empowerment, not gender equality.
In simple words, there is only a thin line between feminism and pseudo-feminism. Feminism says that all sexes are the same. No one has an edge over others. Everyone stays on the same plane and going up is purely dependent on their merit. But, not everyone gets the concept correct.
Some people do not see feminism as an ideology but a shield that might save them from their wrongs. They mold the definition of feminism according to their needs. Let us take an example, on a bus, there is only one vacant seat. A guy and a girl board it and they seem equally tired. But, the girl expecting that the boy would give up the seat ‘only’ because she is a ‘girl’ and she has more rights over the seat is pseudo feminism. Here, whoever takes the seat first will get the luxury to sit.
No special rights or benefits will be provided to any gender. That is what feminism is. Arguing that men do not go through all that a woman does. The ideology that women deserve more than men is vague in many terms. Arguing that the girl deserves to stand ahead of men in a queue just because many other women are oppressed daily is not feminism.
If a woman chooses to stay home and become a homemaker then it is not against feminism. Why? Because it was her choice to do so. Judging her and just passing comments on her husband on how sexist he is is pseudo-feminism. Also, if a man wants to stay home and the roles are reversed. Will then the man be called pseudo-feminist because he is making his wife work? Your answer might decide on which end of the sword you are.
All these gimmicks make people hate the ideology for many men who have been preyed on by the ideology called ‘pseudo feminism’. Again, a feminist is someone who believes that every human deserves equality no matter what.
This is the most focused point whenever people are debating over feminism. It is said that today, women have equal voting rights, equal employment opportunities, and equal freedom. So, why do we need feminism? The answer is simple. Do we have an equal number of men and women in all fields? Why do we see an increase in rape cases each year? We have a larger number of percentages of women when we look at the records of domestic violence and acid attacks? Why do we have more male CEOs than females?
The answers are the reason why we need feminism. Hence, feminism is not a relic of history, but the need of the present. Keeping all the wisdom and logic aside, some people think that men are better leaders than women, and men are more intelligent than women. It is a request to such sexists please go to the web and search the names of toppers of competitive exams and academic results. Girls have always been doing better. Voting rights are not the single reason behind the origin of feminism.
What has Feminism done?
The ideals of feminism are questioned by those who are not aware of the major contributions of feminism in the past. Following is a brief description of what feminism has done for women.
The feminist movement has brought about drastic changes in the system in the past decades like reducing women’s suffrage, providing access to education, and many more. Feminism has made endless contributions to society. Women never had the right to initiate divorce proceedings, feminism made it possible for them to gain this right. Another major contribution by feminism is the right of women to make individual decisions regarding pregnancy.
Feminism brought women out of their homes if they chose to. Feminists joined in the struggle for marriage equality. The question is no longer “if” same-sex couples will have equal rights and the ability to marry the person they love, but when. Feminists show that when sustainable development is a feasible goal, only when all genders work together. They forced Americans to recognize the importance of birth control. Feminists made the workplace a little more equal for everyone.
Misuse of feminism
Let us start with the #MeToo movement. The Me Too movement is a movement against sexual harassment and sexual assault of women. There were conversations about many women who misused this movement unnecessarily. But, do you ever look into the positive side? Remember, not only a few hundreds but, millions of women raised their voice as a part of this movement. Whenever you criticize someone/something, do not forget to support it with statistics, otherwise, these conversations are just termed as rumors and false statements.
Whenever you talk about the misuse of feminism or the misuse of laws made for protecting women, do not forget to mention some crucial numbers to support your argument. People around the world would not be aware of the Nirbhaya case of India where a girl was gang-raped in 2012 but got justice in 2020. Feminism is never misused by feminists. It is not an object to be misused; it is an ideology, a noble one. The ones who misuse laws or feminist movements must understand that feminism is for the betterment of society. They are littering the road on which they will walk tomorrow. They should realize this.
Whenever there is an ongoing debate on feminism, these two points always catch the light. Anti-feminists say that feminism has always been against religion and marriage, without actually understanding the core concept. It is said that since feminism demands gender equality, they are going against religion and its practices. They think that religion proclaims gender disparities. Every religion preaches love, brotherhood, and equality. Many stories in Hindu mythology have been used to support the point of feminism being against religion. The practices of marriage like the bride going to the groom’s house and the wife being forced to stay at home are thrown as swords in debates against feminism. Yes, it is true that since older times, humans have been following the same trends of marriage which somehow go against the ideology of feminism.
Here comes the relevant point, feminism is against these trends, and these practices, which are not religious, but always said to be associated with religion. Religion never asks a woman to stay at home forcibly. There is no such rule in a marriage that a woman should compulsorily go to the man’s house to live with his parents and family, leaving her own house. Feminism is not against marriage and religion; it is against the illogical practices covered by the blanket of marriage and religion.
Feminists have found out new ways of living, without going against religion. The arch patriarchal approaches have come out with people interpreting religious texts the way they wish to. Gradually, we are reaching a place where religious traditions that follow marriage are adapting to feminist ideals. The religious texts do not force women to give dowry, but people do in the name of religion.
There are no associations of such practices with religion and its beliefs.
THE NEVER ENDING DEBATE
Feminism is a noble concept. The feminism movement aims to bring gender equality across the world. Humans have the habit of making assumptions about everything and declaring facts without proper research and understanding. Today, these assumptions have turned into an evil against feminism. There is a need to de-stigmatize the concept of feminism and present the true picture.
Pseudo-feminism is a serious threat to mankind. It might sound exaggerated but it is not. Pseudo feminists are people who believe that they are true feminists and they are the flag bearers of feminism. Therefore, there arises a conflict between what are the actual ideals of feminism by the way?
Let us break some major ideologies:
“Respect her, She is a WOMAN”
We need not give respect to anybody on the planet just because they belong to a certain community or section. It is mandatory to give the basic respect a human deserves. Respecting someone is a choice, right? But, people chose not to respect women, because they have different biological features. It is highly embarrassing to demand respect for something that we have been bestowed upon and not earned on our merits. Feminism just says give them the respect of a human, which people have denied for centuries.
“Women go through the pain of pregnancy.”
Now, the above line is just an example. There are many more ways how people want brownie points because they have certain biological traits. But, was there a choice to choose? No. So how can we take the credit for going through the pain? This is no way saying that the domestic pressure that women go through in rural areas for a child should be neglected. But, their circumstances are different. Demanding equality based on an argument that does not hold across everybody is not valid.
“Women deserve POWER over men”
Now again, feminism does not support any one gender. It does not provide men or women anything extra than the other. Feminism was not born today. It was the oppression of centuries that has given birth to the movement and after years we have reaped these benefits. Feminism does not ask for extra help or compensation to women on any grounds. This would not lead to equality but a more severe inequality. Power comes to those who deserve it and we need to work hard for that.
“How can you be a homemaker?”
Progress and freedom mean different things to different people. Judging someone wholly based on their choice and belittling them for that choice is just pseudo-feminist things. Nobody is promoting feminism by questioning someone for their own choice and giving their advice. Helping a woman who is not able to go out of her home just because of other reasons like her family, husband, but she wants to step out, is feminism.
The above-mentioned points were some proposed ideals that often mislead people about feminism and its ideals. We need to learn, read and understand feminism and its ideologies much deeper. Half knowledge and assumptions based on that half knowledge create unnecessary conflicts.
Everybody on the planet enjoys equality and freedom to do whatever their hearts say. Everyone has the liberty to enjoy rights but sadly, we have turned rights into a luxury that is out of reach for many women just because they are ‘women’. Also, men are subjected to baseless judgments to prove their masculinity and are expected to do things like a ‘man’. But, humans are free social animals, and we need not restrict ourselves with rules and social judgments.
Today, when the world is aiming at all-around development and growth, this is the right time to establish gender equality, not only in the constitutions of the countries but in the heart and soul of the citizens. This is the time to abolish gender stereotypes and practice the deconstruction of gender roles. As feminists, our fight is not only to establish equality but also to remove pseudo feminism.