Feminism in the contemporary world is not an uncommon or an unknown term. It is seen everywhere from conversations to news to protests by activists. Even before I start explaining what the term feminism is, I’d like to start off with a personal example first. Following example had provoked me to write this article. A few days ago I was parking my car and the gear-shift to reverse. As it didn’t happen properly, I did it again and then parked my car.
A man standing nearby who was observing me while I was parking the car. It took him literally one second to say “Gaadi chalani nahi aati kya?” (Don’t you know how to drive a car?). I hadn’t even done anything wrong! This statement by that man stayed on with me for 2 more days. This is just one small incident but almost every woman goes through such hassles every single day. It is because of that man’s presumptuous and audacious comment that I wanted to put into words the feelings and thoughts that go across every woman’s mind throughout India.
So what is feminism? Wikipedia defines it as – ‘the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes. And it is a range of political movements, ideologies, and social movements that share a common goal: to define, establish, and achieve political, economic, personal, and social rights for women that are equal to those of men.’ However, a lot of people, perhaps the majority, perceive feminism to be a movement to uplift the female population at the cost of the male population.
Feminism is often seen as a negative phenomena. What most people fail to observe are the words- ‘…equality of sexes’. Feminism is not based on an ideology that believes in disregarding the male population completely. Feminism is like the yin yang concept, one cannot exist without the other. Men and women go hand in hand. One completes the other. Originally, this movement was started to be solely a woman centric one. But now it has evolved to encompass other genders as well.
Through-out the centuries, women have suffered from a lot of suppressed anger and frustration. A small portion of this suppressed emotion can be seen as “small-leaks”. So 18th century is the time frame where the concept of feminism was born. It wasn’t until decades later that it started to take a proper shape and was termed.
Even today we study some of the famous works by Indian female authors who wrote at that time. Writers such as Amar Jibon by Rahsundari Debi, the high caste Hindu Women by Pandita Ramabai and so on. One doesn’t even need to count the reasons or causes to validate these women’s agitation. From bigger concerns like female foeticide/infanticide, child marriage, Sati, girl child education, to less known concerns like being treated as an inferior. Being impure during menstrual cycle, sinful if one loses her virginity, so on, women have and still are suffering constantly.
This agitation brings up a lot of questions like “Why is menstruation seen as impure when it is merely a biological process?”, “Why is education on a girl seen as useless?”, “How can a widow be impious when all she did was get married which in itself is pure?”. There are millions of questions that are ignored on daily basis. Till the time we ourselves don’t have an answer we are ok to live with them.
On the flipside it’s not only the women who’ve suffered and been laden with norms or notions. Men too have and still are struggling under their own number of societal pressures. We ourselves are a part of this society yet daily we struggle to come upto it’s expectations. While women have been thrust with the norm of being the ‘home maker’ or ‘housewife’, men are expected to be the ‘bread earner’ of the family.
So on a broader note, it is about time that we come above the female-male, inferior-superior, dominant-submissive battle and look beyond the sex of an individual. Because it is not only the ‘sex’ of an individual that is suffering. It is also the gender of millions of people. Nowadays there’s a huge difference between what a person’s sex is and how that person views him/herself to be. Let people be what they want to be. This is because the more suppress them the greater they’ll revolt.
Personally, I believe there should be a concept of justified equality- for all genders. Why seclude an individual purely on the basis of way they are born? Nobody has a choice in the way one is born but we do have a choice on what we do later in life. On how we affect and change other people’s life.
Unless they are not hurting you emotionally and physically, let people be what they want want to be.
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