In this intricately connected and highly sociable world, ideas and movements can often blow out of proportions, sometimes even digressing from what they had initially set out to achieve. The current feminism movement is a very good example of a struggle that has come to belie its true motive.
Feminism, as defined by the Oxford dictionary is,
The advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes.
The terms “rights” and “equality” form the premise of the definition and it is very important to understand their importance. However, of late the movement has become less about fighting for equality and more about bashing men. There are exceptions of course, but the sentiment that has gained popularity is one that brings out grave concerns about where we are headed as a society.
Female equality can co-exist with men being treated fairly as well and this simple fact somehow seems to be out of bounds to the radical feminists who have resorted to gender antagonism in the name of feminism. And this is leading to the focus being diverted to the rhetoric when it should actually be on mutual cooperation in order to find lasting solutions. The derision and disrespect of men and improperly labelling them as “misogynists” and “chauvinist pigs” sours their sentiments and brings negative publicity to the movement and even detracts the significance from the same.
Feminism should be about fundamental issues. As a developing country with a fairly conservative societal setup, we need to ensure that the feminsm movement in India focusses on the eradication of female foeticide in the backward interiors of our country. It should be about ensuring equal opportunities and education to the girls and more importantly focus on gender sensitisation from a very early age. The movement should promote changes in the workplace to promote work-life balance and encourage the placement of equal value on the role of men and women as parents. It should work towards removing stereotypes but above all, it should be about demanding and earning respect for women.
There has been progress on the legal front as now we have several laws safeguarding women’s interests. But, there is a very disturbing fact that surrounds this successful aspect of the movement. There have been some instances where women have abused their power by wrongly accusing men of harassment or rape for personal vengeance when the man in question has actually been innocent. And in most of these cases, the woman’s word acts as a substantive evidence for the same. It is ironical that the fruits of a movement for equality are being used for the unjust treatment of men to the extent of jeopardising their whole life.
Another way in which the movement is wrongly interpreted is when women justify immoral or damage inflicting actions in the name of feminism. Adultery, for example, is wrong on all fronts because we live in a civilised society where no cry for equality can justify the same. Similarly, as adults, everyone has the right to drink or smoke but it is a choice that is injurious to the health of all humans. It is also worth remembering that deadly diseases like cancer don’t discriminate between men and women. Such activities should be left out of the purview of feminism.
The crux of the feminism movement up till now has been to enable women to make their own political, economic and social choices and it is important that we stay focussed on our mission of women empowerment. This can be achieved by understanding the core issues and making sure that we don’t fall prey to the internet propaganda which is based on creating mere hoopla without much thought and validation. We would love to live in a society where equality prevails, and not move from male chauvinism to female chauvinism.
I hope the ladies will agree.