Feminism means giving equal rights to women as those given to men, which means that women are essentially placed on the same importance level in terms of opportunities, power and rights as men. When the fight for feminism started it was because women were being deprived of rights and men were seen as a superior gender. So in that context, it seems absolutely essential that we need a drive for feminism to uplift women’s rights so that they are treated as equals to their opposite gender. However I believe that the notion of feminism is often misconceived and misunderstood by many as something that makes women a superior gender. The essence of the whole movement got lost somewhere along the way and it is now hard to find out the reason as to why it is being widely misunderstood.
I have come across so many people who use the word casually just to give women superior rights without even knowing the true meaning of the movement. The feminist movement can be usually broken up and understood in three waves. The first wave was in the late 19th and early 20th centuries where it was pushed for political equality between the two genders. The second wave, in the 1960s and 70s, was driven towards getting legal and professional equality. And finally the third wave, in the past couple decades, is directed towards getting social equality.It is often said that a man cannot be a feminist and this is where I start my first question as to why can not a man be a feminist? When women are fighting for equal rights with men then men can also support this cause. It is now understood this way that a man cannot support this cause and I wonder why.
A movement which was started for equality has now turned to something restricted to women only and it is a shame if we, as educated individuals are not able to understand this point. There is now a very clear bias that has begun to form in the society as mostly it is the women’s rights that are protested for and atrocities committed against women are also being brought into the public. But at the same time what should be noted is that there are men also who need their rights to be protected. It cannot be taken for granted citing that they can protect themselves but there are cases when they themselves are in need of protection. There are rape cases and sexual harassment cases which have been reported against women but have not been taken into serious consideration. Feminism was a drive to empower but it should not be understood as a chance to dominate the male gender.
It is unfortunate that feminism has come to be commonly misunderstood as hatred towards men. A lot of privileges are being asked for women which has become unfair to men. As an educated generation, we should not fight for such unfairness. For instance, in public transit it is often seen that women sit with their bags or shopping bags on the seats and even asking them to move it is seen as offensive. The whole feminist movement has begun to inflict fear in men that they saying anything will be blown out of proportion unnecessarily and they will be portrayed under bad light. It has now become a daily phenomenon where women can lash out on men under the name of feminism but men cannot say the mildest of things.
The challenge with this movement is that, we are not dealing with institutions instead we are dealing with individual perceptions and it is hard to make people unlearn the things that they have been practising for years. However, it cannot be denied that a movement like this is needed and when it is evident that it has lost its essence, we need to take a step back and understand why this has happened. It needs to be remembered along every step that feminism is different from misogyny and both these terms should not be confused with each other. We need to correct our methods, correct our approach and ensure that the meaning of this whole drive for women empowerment and to get them equal status is not lost.
Picture Credits : rosie.org.au