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We need feminism because it promotes equality between both the sexes, promoting a harmonious and a fulfilling world.
I was first introduced to the term Feminism by one of my Professors who shared rather eloquently that it is a school of thought which is premised on Gender Equality. All the women who fought for the rights that we are enjoying right now were proud feminists and they suffered many hard ships during their arduous struggle for equality. It was at that moment that I remember unmistakably realizing that I am a feminist. I also remember getting a little upset for being introduced to this term so late in my life.
Growing up as a woman in India I noticed gross inequalities and ridiculous amount of pressure being put on all the women within my own family. Most of them decided to take the treatment meted out to them with a pinch of salt and resigned to their predicament, leading a life of regrets. I however always questioned and gained the reputation of somewhat of a trouble maker. People mocked my probing nature by predicting that I will one day make a very successful lawyer, which I also fancied around that time. They hardly noticed that I had no choice but to raise queries. I was trying to make sense of an unequal world which in all honesty was working in no one’s favour.
The term ‘Feminism’ empowered me as it gave me a genuine voice through which I could make myself heard.
The term ‘Feminism’ empowered me as it gave me a genuine voice through which I could make myself heard. As a feminist I unequivocally voiced my concerns and advocated for the rights of both the genders. I was taught that you cannot empower one gender by strangulating the voice of another as their co-existence is pivotal for each other’s development. We need more men and women who view each other as equals.
Inspite of all these significant ideas during the same time I noticed a lot of opposition against the term feminism. I often found myself and my friends explaining the definition taught well by our Professors to everyone around us. I came across a lot of myths around feminism. I remember during a visit to one the most reputed colleges of Delhi University, one of the Professors straight away said, “Oh, you are from that college of crazy feminists”, the moment I uttered Miranda House. I was too tired to argue with him that day but the old man’s words are still etched in my memory; in fact, there are a lot of new additions later to that list – radical, loud, crazy to name a few.
No wonder, the girls of our college were considered untamed, brazen, who unabashedly believed in speaking our minds. A lot of distasteful labels were also slapped on us, a classic way to make women shut up. In retrospect it helped all of us get well-equipped to fight for the survival of feminism, joining hands with the likes of J.K. Rowling, Emma Watson, Amy Poehler and many others; women who realize that it is an honour to be in the sorority of the same individuals, who helped us, get the right to vote, work and equal wages.
The onus lies on us to represent feminists as sane individuals who no more have to use symbolic gestures such as bra-burning. There was a time when a few smart women who could no longer bear to be in the confines of their house resorted to that step. It is no longer a requirement now but a lot of work is still left to be done. Especially in India we can’t afford to buy in to any myths in the market which taints the definition of feminism, even if the top notch Indian actresses don’t like to be called feminists.
We have allowed feminism to become a controversial term and that surely has helped the society a great deal. Now anyone can call an intelligent woman like me crazy and get away with it, without even giving me a chance to speak. In a nation where the girl child is still being killed in one of our many bustling metropolitan cities, why should I or any woman not shout from the rooftops to change the society’s attitude?
Feminism is also a movement which promotes respect for all.
Feminism is also a movement which promotes respect for all. In today’s world the tables have turned and women who decide to stay at home are looked down upon. It is not in vogue to do one of the hardest jobs in the world, to take care of your family. We need feminism to tell that mother or wife who is working round the clock each day that she is worthy of as much love and appreciation as Sania Mirza or Deepika Padukone. (I love them both by the way). We are ready to judge women but not interested in listening to them.
If every woman would own up to feminism, the movement, which we still need would not be limited to a certain lucky ones, who have all the resources at their behest. The movement should go to the small cities and the villages in India where women are getting ordered to be raped by the Khap Panchayats.
Our society is obsessed with women’s behaviour – how they dress, how they talk, how they think and even how they eat. (I remember being asked not to eat like a man) How can we fool ourselves in to thinking that we don’t need feminism? There are no radical, extreme or calm feminists. One is either a feminist or not. As long as you are fighting for equality whether in terms of payment, (women are still paid less) respect, love and worthiness, you are a feminist. Even if anyone tells you that you are too aggressive, argumentative, don’t back down. Commit yourself to feminism. As Emma Watson, a proud feminist, succinctly shared in her famous United Nations speech, “It is not the word (Feminism) that is important; it is the idea and ambition behind it, because not all women have received the rights that I have.”
We need feminism for the upliftment of both the genders. Both women and men are subjected to judgements based on their conformity to gender based norms. Men are asked to be aggressive and women submissive. Men are asked to be successful, women not so much. Both are crumbling under pressure and feminism offers equality to both the genders.
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I am a dreamer with an irrepressible zest for life. I aspire to be a
‘Both are crumbling under pressure and feminism offers equality to both the genders’.
This line really sums up the need of the hour. I take the liberty to add something related to certain things being done in our society which also makes the movement of feminism and the right attitude very important:
1.) A famous comment I see even in many women’s blogs – ‘A woman is the worst enemy of a woman’. This would have been expressed in the case of mother-in-law and daughter-in-law relationship or about some women neighbours talking ill about the other women in that area. Let me just try to understand this from a different perspective.
A woman has been ‘groomed’ to please or get acknowledgement from the male members of the household in India. If a father laughs at a joke everyone laughs. If he gets serious, all hell breaks loose. The mother is a person who cushions the family members and the father, and she needs enormous soft skills to assuage his turbulent emotions. Well…fair enough. Have we ever noticed that this also infiltrates into other areas at times. When the boys of the class tease a girl, all the other girls might side with him at times, so that they are acknowledged by the boy. This grows into teen as attracting the opposite sex, hence a girl would put the other girl down, just to get noticed by the guy, and later into adulthood. The wife might gossip about the neighbour, just to show the husband and the in-laws… ‘see how goody good I am compared to her and you are not even noticing it…’.
I think all of us need to analyse whether we do this. Agreeing, just to be on the same plane is one thing, but agreeing to ‘please others’ is a totally different thing.
2.) Many women are brought up with a lot of guilty feelings than the men, that they start feeling jittery or are made to feel jittery about their even minor faults. Whereas a man would have said – “Yes I did it, and I am sorry for the same”….A woman would herself add on scoops of excessive guilt and go into self-critical mode. Sometimes you need to be thick skinned and it helps you gain perspective…also you are ‘helping yourself’ because the others may not help you until you want to help yourself.
3.) All the parents of girls – stop grooming girls to be somebody’s wife, daughter-in-law or sister-in-law. Let her be what she is. No parent is telling the 17 yr old son – ‘Now look in a few more years, you will be married and having kids. So you need to go for work and earn more. Hence start getting up early and keep up the family name’. (Ooh…it is appalling to the ears even when you hear it once. But day in and day out many of us treat our daughters this way !!)
Son or daughter, good values and morals are more important….the career and success will soon follow if the above two are in place.
All the best to you, Mukta.
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