The Importance of Feminism
Feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression. Feminism in its true sense means gender equality. Feminism is the belief that there should be social, economic, and political equality for all sexes. Emma Watson once said “Men think that’s a word for women. And what it really means is that you stand for equality, and you are a feminist if you stand for equality.”
There are various definitions of the term “feminism” and its meanings are often contested. It is often taken out of context to represent different ideologies which can thus lead to confusion. A lot of us fail to understand what feminism stands for. To understand what feminism is, it is crucial to understand what not feminism is. Feminism as said by many does not mean giving more importance to women than any other religion, women are better than men or only their voices have to be heard. Feminism is not about disrespecting men or hating men. Feminism is not a movement which aims to eliminate men, but to break the patriarchal values which exist in society. It does not go against men but it goes against the ideas which advocate male supremacy in the society.
The word ‘Feminist’ is misunderstood majorly because it has ‘fem’ in it. People think that the word is only for women. The word just because it has ‘fem’ in it does not mean it only stands for or pertains to women’s rights. Much like the words ‘Human’ or ‘Mankind’ do not relate to men only and can be used for all genders, ‘Feminism’ is for all genders too. Feminism as a movement has meant so much over the years. But the movement never went on to be anti-male. We need to clarify here that sexism is the issue. And that clarification makes us note that all of us, both female and male, were socially conditioned to embrace sexist thinking and behavior since birth. As a result, women might be just as sexist as men. And although this does not defend or validate male dominance, it does mean that for feminist theorists it would be misguided and incorrect to view the campaign as being biased against men, just because it stands for women’s rights.
Why is Feminism important?
While feminist movement is about achieving equality for both men and women, it still is important to realize that women experience more inequalities than men. Women have been seen for many years as being inferior or weaker than males. We live in a society in which genders are still far from equal, serving to harm males and females equally. Whereas we believe feminism is a positive movement that keeps bringing positive social change to society, some are still unconvinced. The feminist movement that exists today is more diverse than ever. Feminism is now more observant to the wider set of perspectives of those who are oppressed by gender norms and roles including males, non-binary and transgender people.
When it comes to rape, women, and young girls are the most vulnerable. It has reached a point where a girl walking alone at night is even presumed to be raped and rape is also not seen as a heinous offense in many places around the world, like in India marital rape is not an offense. For years, women have been sexualized and questioned for their choice of clothes and some people in our society still think they have the right to sexually abuse the women who do not dress up in a way which is appropriate according to them. There is ample data available to realize that women live globally, both from strangers and within their close relationships and families, in a sense of constant fear and risks to their physical safety.
A lot of times people do not support feminism because of deep-rooted ideas in society. India requires feminism because a female, should not be considered someone’s responsibility throughout her life, whether it’s her father, husband, or son. The degree of male superiority is demonstrated by rituals like kanyadaan and Raksha Bandhan. Such practices emphasize that the weak, sensitive women must be kept safe by strong, capable males and females are not built to protect, but to be protected. Another major problem faced by women is the pay gap. Women deserve the same sum of money and appreciation for doing the same activities that a man does. In India, working women earn only 66 percent as to what their male peers earn for the very same amount of effort. This gender pay gap and discrimination discourages women from working well in the professional sphere. Indian law has given various rights to women, but they haven’t been successful in changing the society’s outlook on these issues to the desired extent. Women are also taking part in politics, they are becoming leaders but the representation and participation is still not as much as it can be called equal.
Patriarchy in all sexes and genders fosters false beliefs. It embraces beliefs of desirable standards of beauty for women, a sense of someone being weak and powerless, and, therefore, a need for all kinds of support for heavy reliance on males. The notions of patriarchy favor men but they also harm men. Boys often end up dismissing the likelihood of sexual harassment, and whenever they face it, they find it impossible to accept that it is real. Each time somebody says or does something that imposes a stereotype of women being the weaker sex, they also allude to a stereotype that is equally wrong that men are superior or stronger and that seems to have led over the period to a lack of emotional literacy or insufficient support for expressing their emotions. Patriarchy also influences decisions men take, like they will be told they can’t be a designer because that’s not masculine enough so it is a woman’s job.
In simple terms, feminism means that no injustice should be brought to bear on either sex. They should receive equal treatment. Yet, of late, there is emerging a new form of feminism that is commonly known pseudo-feminism. Feminism is a theory accepted by some sensible and educated men all across the globe but some women in the garb of feminism attack men and engages in the assassination of their character than it is not a fair playing field. While talking about gender equality, they feel that in knowledge and class they are superior to men. Pseudo-feminist believes in misandry that is hostility and hatred towards men and desiring power in society over males. They want to become the dominant force behind the veils of feminism in their homes, offices, and everywhere else. Another form of pseudo-feminism is feminism which changes as per someone’s convenience. The best illustration is: men who pay for the outings and dates. When we say that all genders are equal, they should equally take the responsibility to pay, they might split the bills, they can pay alternatively but ultimately both should be equally responsible for such things. But as we know we are all the part of this sexist society, men are too egoistic to let women pay and women think it’s men’s job to pay. These are exactly the men and women who are pseudo-feminist.
It is important not to confuse pseudo feminism with feminism or hate feminism because of pseudo feminism. Asking for seat reservations or coach reservations in metros is not being pseudo-feminist, it’s because women are still not safe from men who do not respect them or might be a danger to them. It takes seconds for a man to touch a woman inappropriately even in public places. That’s one of the reasons why there are reserved coaches or seats for women. People ask why women need reservations in educational institutions or politics. That’s because women have been oppressed for years because of the patriarchy, sexism, racism, and casteism. We do have women leaders, girl education, etc but they still do not have equal opportunities. There might be a lot of reasons for that, they might not be sent to school by parents, do not have proper sanitation facilities in schools, might belong to a family where men are favored more and are given more opportunities.
We are all aware that equality is not here yet there’s still so much to fight for. Sometimes there is a thin line between feminism and pseudo feminism and that’s when we need to introspect, believe the true feminism and also realize the need to sometimes provide someone with more opportunities because they lack equal representation and this has to be done for all genders whether male, female, or trans people.
Courtesy : New Delhi Times