Feminism, a moment started with a view to equalising men and women in each and every sphere possible. It was a much-needed step required to bring into light the struggles females were/are facing in the country even after 70 years of independence. India, as a society, has been patriarchal and women’s rights and their concern were never anybody’s priority.
Between the fight for religion and caste/community, we somewhere forgot that gender, in general, is fighting hard since so many years for their lawful rights. Striving hard since so many years and we still haven’t reached the position where we can say that we have safeguarded the rights of each and every woman across the globe. At one side, where we are fighting and struggling to gain our position as equal as men in society, there are some privileged women who are taking undue and unacceptable advantages of rights made in safeguarding rights of women.
This article will take you on a journey to better understand the concept, then, you decide if feminism is relevant in the 21st century?
Who is a Feminist?
A feminist is a person who believes in the power of women just as much as they believe in the power of anyone else. Feminism isn’t about making women strong. Women are already strong. It’s about changing the way the world perceives their strength. The change in feminism in the 21st century occurred due to the long struggle that women in history took to safeguard their and the future generation’s right. In order to know the effect of feminism in the 21st century, one should know its history.
The fight for feminism began in the 19th century, and according to history, the fight for women’s rights is divided into four waves. The first wave was in the 19th century where women were fighting for education rights so that they can be well educated and will be treated with the respect they deserve. The second wave was in the 20th century where women were fighting for equality in both law and culture. Thethird wave was in the mid 20th century and the fourth wave was in the 21st century where women continued to fight for equality in either social, political or economical.
In the 21st century, where all women have the right to vote, right to education, many people believe that the fight for women’s right or for gender equality has come to an end and the battle has now been won, but it is far from the truth. As compared to the last hundred years it has improved but the battle is yet to be fought.
The aim of this article is to focus on the point that whether feminism is relevant in the 21st century or not. The issues such as the sexualisation of young girls, domestic violence against men, the gender pay gap, birth control, and the school playground, to address why feminism is not just an issue or a simple movement and why it is the right of one gender against the other. Or, on the side, false rape cases, domestic violence charges, assault or in any way taking advantage of the rights provided to women for safeguarding their rights.
Since birth, girls have always been taught to be careful around males, they have been taught to cover their body fully with clothes. Girls are still restricted and are taught to be at their place or home at a particular time, at working places also women get low paychecks as compared to men and that too for the same amount of work. Considering all of these issues, can we really say that the battle is over?
The question which arises in the mind of any person with the rational thinking ability is why men are not supposed to cover their body, why are they not supposed or taught to respect girls, why they haven’t been taught to respect the females around them and respect their dignity and why males gain all the benefits first? Why are they allowed to enter their home at any time, why wages for the same work can’t be equal.
The pay gap is not just about inequality, it is about giving less credit to a person for the same amount of work they did as compared to another and also it is a restriction on female independence. Women undeservingly earning less than men, are not just economically struggling, but are forced to be dependent on another person, often a man, as their own wage will not support them or their family. The dependency issues created by the gender pay gap often compels women to become homemakers, when some of them would rather be working. In a world where women’s work is not valued as much as men’s, we need feminism.
And not even this, there are still some regions and family who don’t want a girl to be born at their place, they are not even being allowed to take birth, to see the world. They are killed in their mother’s womb, through the process of abortion. Then we come across the problem of female foeticide. The problem of female foeticide, not allowing girls to take birth is the main reason why sex detection is illegal in our country. There remains no doubt that we have eradicated this issue to a lot of extents but still, a lot is yet to be done.
It is not about giving importance to women but to make this world a better place to live in. Where women and men are judged by their merits and talent and not by their gender. A world free from suffocating gender roles and inequalities based on nothing more than your gender.
We can still see the effects of centuries of propaganda about female inadequacy. In male-dominated societies, many men have felt threatened by and sought to dominate and control women. Throughout history, men have raped and abused women, burned them at the stake, bought/sold their bodies for sexual pleasure, barred women from religious and political office, repeatedly relegated women to subservient chores, and subjected them to female genital mutilation. For so long, women seizing new opportunities have repeatedly faced opposition, and have been subjugated and oppressed.
We need to keep changing the attitude that raises our girls to be demure and our boys to be assertive, that criticizes our daughters for speaking out and our sons for shedding a tear. We need to keep changing the attitude that punishes women for their sexuality and rewards men for theirs.We need to keep changing the attitude that permits the routine harassment of women, whether they’re walking down the street or daring to go online. We need to keep changing the attitude that teaches men to feel threatened by the presence and success of women.We need to keep changing the attitude that congratulates men for changing a diaper, stigmatizes full-time dads, and penalizes working mothers. We need to keep changing the attitude that values being confident, competitive, and ambitious in the workplace – unless you are a woman. We need to keep changing a culture that shines a particularly unforgiving light on women and girls of color.
Barack Obama, Former President of the United States.
In some areas, women are still facing oppression, domestic violence by their partners or husband’s relatives. The unequal balance of power between husbands and wives is a contributor to domestic violence. In Muslim majority countries, specifically those under sharia law, women are completely under male dominance where they are vulnerable to violence and abuse. Sharia law holds control over women’s education, freedom to travel, marriage choices, and even control of their own bodies.
As we talk of the struggles females are facing in their day to day lives, I also want to talk about the misuse of the rights given to them. Looking into the current scenario and the analytics given, the rape threats and rapes committed, in both of these aspects, India is leading which is something to frown upon, and amidst of these situations, there is a possibility that in every recorded rape case out of 10, 3 of them are false which is even more shameful.
Women have started using the rights made for their personal safety as methods to settle personal vendettas. Not just that, there are several cases of domestic violence not on women but on men. There are cases where we see the woman lying about the assault of violence happening to her just for the sake of money or to get back at a person. There are numerous cases filed which show why is it difficult for a country to preserve feminism, where we already have stated men to be the culprit of everything. I am not saying the struggles we face are not true or the struggles almost half of the women across the globe are facing is not true; it is about females taking undue and unfair advantage of the rights provided to them.
A major issue currently plaguing women is the wage gap and workplace discrimination. Some women face discrimination in the form of unequal treatment in the workplace.
There is the belief that feminists hate men, and wish to overpower them but that’s not true. The idea behind what most women believe feminism is that women should be equal to men, and also feel safe in their society. Even men and women should work together to fight for equality on both sides. It’s relevant even in the 21st century, we need feminism not to overpower men but to provide women with equality and the same respect in the society as a man gets.
If I am here, I do not feel that wanting the same respect, wage and treatment as a man gets in today’s world is too much to ask for. I also stand by the fact that women have no right to tarnish the reputation of someone for their own benefit.