The question is a complex one and causes a stir amongst everyone’s minds. There are a hell lot of people who consider feminism as a sham. But to be honest, we need to have it in its true spirit. The society needs to understand and comprehend the requirement and meaning of this particular word. At times feminism proves to be mandatory to provide human rights for a particular section of the society.
Since times immemorial we have used the word weaker sex or fairer sex for the females. Yes of course, the nature has made the females of every specie weaker in muscle strength to the male counterpart. But it is not for them to overpower the physically weaker. Each gender has some advantages. The females can bring new life into this world.
During the primitive ages, the physically stronger gender had shouldered the responsibility of the head of the family. The primitive people also sustained their livelihood by hunting and food gathering which the men carried out. And the females limited themselves to taking care of their settlements and looking after their young ones. From then onwards the male population started thinking that they have the ultimate authority over everyone everywhere.
How did it worsen?
As we flip the pages of our Indian history, we see that during the Early Vedic Period women enjoyed considerable freedom and liberty compared to the Later Vedic Period. With the introduction of the caste system, people divided into four varnas: Brahman, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudras.
The society became rigid and allowed only a certain section of the society to rule. The Brahmanas were the highest in the social hierarchy. Only they got religious education. They even prohibited the lower caste to study or listen to them. The Brahmanas took advantage of this situation and made their own religious interpretations. They imposed their unjust and orthodox rules on women and other castes. This was how religion became a tool to control people. Thus, the society put restrictions on women. They did not have any rights, nor could seek education and had to engage only in domestic chores.
Sadly, the mindset of the society did not change with the changing times. In the modern society, education changed the people and their lifestyles. The human race has achieved a lot with the growth of Science and Technology. But the gender biased nature of the society is still the same. However, educated the society becomes, in the back of their mind they still see women as inferior to men.
What feminism actually is?
Feminism isn’t about making women superior to men or helping them surpass men. It is about considering both as equal and giving them equal opportunities. We have to start from the inception. We have to be equally happy when a girl child is born, give her the same love that a boy would get. Furthermore, we should abide by equal pay for equal work rule in the work places. The role of a women goes beyond the four walls of a household. They are equally capable of all those duties that men do. The most important thing is to appreciate a woman on the basis of her talent not her appearance or gender.
They may be inferior physically but the intelligence and learning capacity is at par with their male counterpart. In this new era, women are actively taking part in each and every field and standing shoulder to shoulder with men. Now they cannot be confined into the domestic sphere. But still the rights of women are denied in every step and they have to struggle to gain their deserving rights. Some countries treat women like slaves. The atrocities against them are countless. Some examples of such atrocities are rape, domestic violence, sexual harassment, acid attacks, forcing women to wear veils or ‘burkha’ in public, forced marriages, female infanticide and female foeticide, widow burning and what not.
A need for change
Females have to fight all these odds and perform better than the men to attain a good position anywhere. We claim that everyone is getting equal chances but if we go through the reality we can see that women have to struggle more to keep their balance with work and household responsibilities. Full responsibility of family and children lies on their shoulders. The Indian society is patriarchal in nature and we blindly accept this and adjust accordingly and those who raise their voice against this mindset become a rebel in everyone’s eye. There is a large population of uneducated women. They do not realize the inequality they face because they become accustomed to think in that manner. But those who are economically independent have started fighting for their rights and have also emerged victorious in life.
The modern generation should understand that feminism is not about defying the rules of the society and copying the men in every walk of life. In every civilized society, there is a social setup along with cultural barriers . Trying to challenge such things is not accepted as protection of rights of female. One needs to understand the duties and responsibilities towards the family and society and carry them out sincerely. Wearing clothes like men and going to night clubs and drinking and smoking is not what is meant by feminism. Having such bad habits are not good for men either. Otherwise such bad habits will pave way to build up an unhealthy and weak generation. But if the society is putting a leash on women it should be on men too.
“Life is not a competition between men and woman, it is a collaboration”– David Fernhead.
We celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8th every year. Everyone seems to be aware of the gender biased mindset of the society and speaks about it loudly. But after that we forget to carry it forward. A deliberate attempt is to be made to understand feminism to its core. So many people offer up the argument that women are not the “same” as men so there can’t be equality. In other words, because their body structures are different (many say weaker and smaller) there cannot be equality. But it is all about providing equal opportunity to them. And treat them with dignity and respect.
Women are not consumable goods. They have their own freedom and voice. When something moves in the darkness men fear that there are ghosts whereas women fear that there are men. Feminism is still needed to continue because a man in a room full of women consider himself a stud. Whereas a woman in a room full of men finds it intimidating. We desperately need feminism for an equal status of women and men to be achieved in every field.