Sunday, 3 April 2016

The Feminist Front

How often have you heard of women fighting for their rights, empowerment, and equality? It makes you wonder if feminism is something you should be proud of or just a banal act of proving superiority in this patriarchal society. Firstly, let us make it clear, being a feminist does not mean hating men or thinking you’re better than them. A feminist is anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men, considering them to be equals in a society. Feminism is an ideology that initiated as a surging movement, and the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the theory of political, economic and social equality of the sexes.

We still live in a world in which a significant fraction of people, including women, believe that a woman belongs and wants to belong exclusively in the home."
—Rosalyn Sussman(Nobel Prize-winning medical physicist)

Most of my male colleagues feel intimidated with the fact that I’m a feminist, as the first thought that strikes them is that feminism is overrated, and that women often enjoy more privileges than them. I defy them on facts that we’re not treated as equals, don’t get paid as much, or that we’re the ones being judged at every point of our lives, even on grounds as simple as driving or partying or even travelling. Right from what we wear to where we go and now even, which temples we worship, is judged. It gives the society an insight into our character and upbringing. Isn’t this unfair? Don’t we deserve to be allowed to do what we like? The answer is NO. We’re women after all, we may prove our worth to be more than men but still we’ll be considered incompetent and be critiqued for all choices that we make. If we don’t know to cook or clean, we’re judged. Or if we’re too ambitious, we’re out of our minds. But the point here is, does it really matter? Do these constant criticisms affect us in any way? In a country where a rape victim is always at more fault than the criminal, and which worships goddesses but has uncountable cases of female infanticide, I don’t think judgements matter. It’s what we think about ourselves and what our consorts do. So, to all those who think that feminism is overrated, just try fitting into the shoes of a woman. You’ll know. I understand that times are changing but, equality is something we should strive for together. We are two sides of the same coin.
On the other hand, considering some grounds, I second their opinion. If the fight is for equality, what is the fuss around reserved seats in colleges/government and stereotypes like pulling chairs for them, paying for dinner or being the sole breadwinner? It’s true that the world has been unfair to women, but we can only be empowered when we believe in the notion of equality. We struggle to be independent, socially and financially and what we fail to realise is that on the bigger front, it’s these demands that sabotage our clan, even though we think it empowers. It is agreeable that society has been unjust, and that reservations can help us bring more women into power, to fight the system that is ignorant towards them. But it often does more harm than good. Your competence is often neglected and even if you deserve, you’re apprehended to be on favours for your womanhood.
In a world where crimes against women are surging, it’s hard to believe that good men exist, who aren’t rapists or chauvinists and who can respect your dignity. But, we’ve got to be vigilant and trustworthy at the same time. That’s the struggle of being a woman. We have a sharp insight, and I think it’s the best if we use it. Our concern isn’t about how the world sees us, it’s how we present ourselves to them. The more fortunate should endeavour to empower and educate the less privileged ones, as the only way to curb these injustices is by education. An educated and strong woman can teach her daughters to be independent and her sons to be respectful. It is the only way to equality and to end the deplorable state of women in society.

"I raise up my voice—not so I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard...we cannot succeed when half of us are held back." ―Malala Yousafzai

If freedom from the bonds of patriarchy is what we desire, it’s only our spirit that can liberate us. Stop thinking of the roles in a society, don’t wait for a man to offer you his seat and don’t be offended if he does (he’s just being nice, don’t think he’s undermining you), pay your own share and pick your own luggage. If dowry is unreasonable, so should be alimony. This reminds me of a case where a High court judge rejected a woman’s plea to alimony, suggesting her to find a job instead. If you’re not below them, why do you want to be supported? It is fine if the woman is uneducated or incapable of working, but on any other grounds, I find it intriguing. Women have proved their worth in space and on Earth; look around you, there will be millions to be inspired from. True equality is when men and women work in concord. Any work is neither demeaning nor restraining, be it homemaking or working on a professional front. The image of women as mere homemakers is blurring as their partners encourage and support them now, and that’s for good! You can get the best of both worlds if you’re ready to defy gender roles and work together. The win conditions would be one in which all people are able to pursue their passions, develop their talents, express themselves, and live their lives without regard to prejudice, traditions, dangers, or limitations based on gender.
Feminism has lost its real essence due to the burgeoning exploitation of this equality movement, which has resulted in its demonization. We may differ in anatomy or emotions, but our potential and strength co-exists. One needs to stand against exploitation, be it of men or women. Believe in equality and stop judging people around you. And my advice to those ladies who drag every menial issue as anti-feminism is, that people make mistakes and are supposed to be corrected, so if a woman faces any criticism due to her own fault(irrespective of gender bias), please don’t relate it with feminism and women subjugation. There’s a lot more to it than you think. Not every woman is right and not every man is wrong. Sometimes, the perspective is broader than mere prejudice. A real feminist is not out to set all men to fire, to say the least.

"Feminism isn't about making women strong. Women are already strong. It's about changing the way the world perceives that strength." —G.D. Anderson

Let’s not try to overpower men, and let’s not remain oppressed by them, what a true feminist strives for is to be at par, on the same level as men.
Here’s to strong women, may we know them; may we be them; may we raise them!!