I had an urge to write on this topic due to the recent discussions with my life partner Kris and some incidents that have been happening around me, where some of my close friends were targeted for coming out in the open and speaking about their bad experiences, some comments that were passed, the strong opinions that people held against feminism, how women misuse this for their own betterment, how men misunderstand the purpose behind why the feminist movement was started some years ago, how its relevance has changed in today´s times, and what does this mean for our future generations. We really need to think and analyse if we are a true feminist inside, or just using this catchy and popular term to nod our heads to the rising popularity and the purpose remains unachieved. Before you read ahead please go through the following so that my blog does not create any misunderstanding in your minds about the concept. Understanding the definition, scope and relevance of feminism today is necessary. Please go through the following links before reading ahead.
So basically feminism means equality and respect for all genders, it was a movement started predominantly for women, because at the time when this movement took place, women were downtrodden and confined to four walls of the house, but today the need of the hour is changing, although I personally see only the economic status of women getting much better in the society whereas the political and social scenario needs much improvement. In this context sex is a biological characteristic and gender is treated as a social role.
Feminism is not at all a generalised concept, it can be derived in many terms and has end no of usages. There are political movements around the world that are gender specific, in order to protect extra vulnerable, gender specific groups in the society. Further, there are numerous NGOs that work for the well-being of women primarily, and are hence gender specific, take for instance women’s shelters as an example. Also, keep in mind all the females organized in gender specific protest groups. To add on to this information, issues such as, domestic violence is most often performed by men, towards women. As rightly pointed out feminism is therefore for gender specific groups and only because women have been targeted and in the past the relevance meant much more for this gender, today also this is categorized only with women. According to me transgenders and men who undergo domestic violence at the hands of women are also eligible to seek fundamental rights under this movement. Please note academic feminism which is used by researchers and professors in universities to answer gender related issues and gender studies discussions is totally different from real time feminism movement that happened in the 1920s.
Citing a small example which makes this term more women specific but not only meant for them. Little girls in Pakistan and Afghanistan were being shot and were having acid thrown on their faces for trying to go to school, because there are men who believed that women should not be educated. The experience of Malala Yousafzai, shot in the head for saying that girls deserve an education, brought this to the world’s attention, having received the Nobel Peace Prize and addressed the United Nations, this teenager is probably the world’s most visible feminist. So Malala fought for equal rights for the girls in her society or surrounding, I do not find any reason why Malala would not have supported the men in her region, in fact she was even concerned for equal rights of education for her brothers too.The underlining point is that fighting for equal rights which means treat man and woman or a transgender at the same level, and none being superior than the other.
The 1920s feminism movement today can be regarded obsolete to a certain extent, because woman are coming close to finding equal rights, it is obviously not huge in number, but the situation is improving, so when you say you are a feminist, in case your husband, father or brother is also not having equal rights, we should have the audacity to come and fight for them too. Example more paternity leave for fathers because they too have the right to contribute to child bearing. Men are great cooks too, so the mothers should also stop stereotyping their sons if they love working in the kitchen. Women and men both can report sexual assault without law enforcement and the public passing judgement based on gender-driven assumptions. If a man is being ill treated by a woman I guess he should be supported, but not at all times the women might be right. Statistically and historically, women have an upper hand because the situations occur on an enormous basis with women, be it sexual or domestic violence, harassment, rape, eve teasing, no rights in property etc, so the sympathy factor remains, but men can be feminists too, they can support a women for all the good causes, there are very few who have no ego problems, but with awareness things could change.
Organisations today are opting for a diverse working force which means 50 percent weightage to both men and women. Recruiters focus on hiring more women employees these days because the percentage of women in the organisations is lesser as compared to men. God knows what the future holds for us, if there are more working women 50 years down the line and less men in any organisation, recruiters focus may change on hiring men to equalise the workforce. Therefore when you call yourself a feminist, you are supposed to support the ability, hard work, rights, duties, of a women keeping in mind the respect for men too and equalising these rights with them, but never superiority.
Some people try to combine misogyny with feminism and state that anti feminists are misogynists. Totally wrong. Misogyny means dislike or hatred for women and as said earlier feminism is the movement of equal rights for the female gender, focussing culturally mainly on women because of their status in the society. Anti feminists could also be women who do not want equal rights for men, and want to be superior, well that is not at all counted as feminism. I hope this simple blog will help clarify doubts. For more on definitions you could read the links above.
Rucha Sudhir Khot