Since the inception of its philosophy, political and social movement, feminism has received several critiques. It first emerged in the nineteenth century. It attracted critical judgments that it is not a necessity, then. However, centuries later that perception has not changed much. A major section of society, believes that while feminism was relevant back during the previous centuries, modern societies do not require it. They claim that women are in a better position now. Rather, it might be a better position from the past, but not an “equal” position, yet.
Has Society Achieved Gender Equality?
It is often expressed that feminism is not required because women are in a good position now. But, is that enough? If that was true, then why would 2020 statistics indicate that women earn only eighty-one cents for every dollar earned by men? Why would a woman be judged for not dropping her father’s name and adopt her husband’s surname? Why would the “glass ceiling” be still prevalent in corporate organizations? There is no direct answer to these questions. It only establishes that feminism has given voice to many women in society, but not all. Norms still silence women.
Career opportunities are still lacking for women. Discrimination at the workplace is more rampant than ever. For instance, the field of medicine mostly compels women to go ahead with gynecology. Very few get a chance to study cardiology or neurobiology. In addition to this, even though there are more women in gynecology, there is a gender pay gap. Hence, it is evident that society has a long way to go to achieve equality. Modern society needs feminism, and here is why.
Need for feminism
Home settings: Society expects women to give up on their careers after the birth of children. Maternity leave is prevalent, but there is an absence of paternity leave in countries such as India, Bangladesh, Egypt, and Sri Lanka to name a few. After work, women have to come back and do all the chores. This is not expected from men. If women choose to keep work a priority, they are judged and termed as ‘irresponsible’. Yet, it is not considered men’s responsibility to share the load of household duties.
Female Genital Mutilation: According to World Health Organization, more than two-hundred million females have undergone genital mutilation. In most surveys, the primary reasons provided for inflicting this pain on women include preservation of a woman’s virginity, social acceptance, and intensification of male sexual pleasure. This only indicates that society is beyond gender equality. Hence, the need for feminism emerges.
Domestic Abuse: Individuals had to stay home to prevent the spread of Covid 19. This led to an upsurge in the cases of domestic violence that became twice as dangerous. The UN report mentioned the crisis women had to face during the lockdown. It mandated that countries must launch helpline numbers for victims of domestic violence.
How Does Feminism Impact Society?
It is important to remember that the prime purpose of feminism is equality in all spheres and areas. Not only women but men can be feminists too. Feminism benefits all sections of society. Anything that propagates hatred towards men or superiority rather than equality is not feminism. It is “pseudo-feminism”. Pseudo feminists or Feminazis do not follow the true essence of feminism. It is more about aversion towards the opposite gender or vengeance.
Feminism is different from this. It is about recognizing women’s rights and breaking age-old stereotypes. In society, with fixed gender roles feminism brings relief to both genders. Men can be expressive of their emotions. On the other hand, women achieve liberation from the restrictive norms of society.
For instance, feminism created a platform for individuals. There they could openly talk about their experiences. This led to the MeToo movement. The movement began when women, across the world opened up about their experiences of sexual abuse, harassment, and exploitation. It was because of feminism that individuals could find the courage to come out against injustice.
Thus, over centuries feminism has provided a platform for women to express themselves. With the advent of new patterns and societal progress, new issues against women have emerged. An instance could be cyber-bullying or the objectification of women through the media. This might not have existed before, but in current times society has normalized it. Even in a professional environment, women have to prove their skills to show that they are capable. This happens because a section of society still believes that women cannot commit to their careers. In reality, the social order does not let them progress. Feminism is much needed in modern society to deal with the atrocities that women still have to face.