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 have 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. Isn’t it inhumane to deprive almost half of the world’s population of certain rights and their respect, reasoning something that’s 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? No answer would be found without a tinge of patriarchy in it. Women were denied entry into the Olympics just stating their gender as the reason behind this denial. In Ancient Olympics they weren’t 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 the property. Some patriarchal societies are also patrilineal, meaning that property and title are inherited by the male lineage. Women are largely excluded from the 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 the 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? Women are weaker than men when it comes to wisdom and rule. Women are not good leaders. Women cannot pave the way for development. Why? 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. Women can also make wise decisions. Women can also be leaders. 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’s 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’s 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’s 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’s a ‘girl’ and she has more right over the seat is pseudo feminism. Here, whoever takes the seat first will get the luxury to sit. This is very simple but this is exactly how big problems get disguised under pseudo feminism.
No special rights or benefits will be provided to any gender. That’s what feminism is. Arguing that men don’t 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 isn’t feminism.
If a woman chooses to stay home and become a homemaker then it isn’t 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 by the ideology called ‘pseudo feminism’. Again, a feminist is he/she, 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. Why there are not an equal number of men and women in all fields? Why are women raped? Why there are 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’s 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.
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 demonstrated that the goal of sustainable development can be achieved only when people of all genders become a part of this development. They forced Americans to recognize the importance of birth control. Feminists made the workplace a little more equal for everyone.
Misuse of feminism
Let’s 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, don’t 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, don’t forget to mention some crucial numbers to support your argument. People around the world won’t 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’s 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’ll walk tomorrow. They should realize this.
Religion and Marriage
Whenever there’s 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’s 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’s against the illogical practices that are carried out in the name of marriage and religion. Feminists have found out new ways of living, without going against religion. There have been new ways of getting married, which are religious as well as feminist. No religious text ever states that the woman should be sent to her husband’s house with loads of jewelry and luxury items which we say as dowry. These are the practices started by humans 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. As the character of popular people is always pointed out, the same way feminism is. The ideology was feminism was brought out to bring gender equality in society. 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’s 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 isn’t. 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’s a WOMAN”
Respect is earned. We needn’t 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 but it is written or proposed nowhere that a particular people belonging to certain sex need to be respected more than that even if they prove undeserving. Giving respect also becomes a choice. It is highly embarrassing to demand respect for something that we have been bestowed upon and not earned on our merits. Nowhere does feminism say that only women have to be respected because they are women.
“Women go through the pain of pregnancy.”
Now, the above line is just an example. Many such arguments are put up by alleged feminists that they are better because they have certain biological traits. But, were these traits chosen? No. So how can we take the credit of 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. Just because women have been suppressed on various grounds it gives them help, so that they can stand par with men. But this does not propagate that women had to be given extra benefits as compensation for all the years of trouble they have been subjected to. 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, that’s feminism.
The above-mentioned points were some proposed ideals that often mislead people about feminism and its ideals. A deep understanding of the concept is the thing that’s required. Half knowledge and assumptions based on that half knowledge creates 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 have been subjected to baseless judgments to prove their masculinity and are expected to do things like a ‘man’. But, this is not what we were made and sent on this planet.
Today, when the world is aiming at all-round 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.