Feminism, not only believes in equality between women and men, but also wants to break structures of gender, race, class, caste, age, ability, sexual orientation, violence and body image.
It is fundamentally about giving women choices and not about finding new ways to limit their self-expression (the totality of who you are).
“The advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes.”
Feminism is often misunderstood with women trying to get above men, but it is just a fight to be equal to men. It is about getting the same amount of appreciation, our voices being heard, having access to certain rights without fighting for them.
The patriarchal system is being followed in most parts of India. Mainly, in rural areas and higher/lower-middle-class families.
Patriarchy, here doesn’t have to relate with only man, but patriarchy which has affected women and men in respect of mindsets, culture, education at fault and not just men.
The condition of girls is worst in India, but that does not mean to hate men. Some of them are here to protect women.
Thus, Feminism solely means the ideology that purely believes in gender equality.
Even the PREAMBLE of the constitution per-se implies,
LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith, and worship;
EQUALITY of status and opportunity;
assuring the dignity of the individual.,
(Here, I have implied only the key points of the preamble relating to our topic).
So, if the country’s preamble itself talks about equality of status & opportunity, then why was it not followed and adhered to since it came into existence.
Why was ‘Feminism’ needed?
- Before public life was inhabited, men used to hunt, built, and discover. But women’s lives were restricted to the domestic sphere. They were obliged to cover their heads in public.
- They were denied from the right of their own property, no studies, no participation in public places, fasten from professions, etc.
- Earlier, a girl child was not welcomed in the family and was aborted just by identifying the gender of the child before birth, as people thought of a girl as a burden. Thus, Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act, 1994, pre-conception, or pre-natal sex determination is illegal in India.
- Women were considered a burden on the family. And thus, were not allowed to even complete graduation as it was observed to be a wastage of time & money. Instead, she was taught manners and discipline so that after marriage she would know how to make her in-laws and children happy and to feed them.
- Women were not allowed to exercise their control over their children without the permission of their husbands.
- The most heinous part is- men selling their daughters/wives for money.
- Till the 20th century, women were not allowed to vote or hold an elective office.
- Even in the Film industry, men were praised and were given a lot of respect for the work they did as compared to women, who even contributed and gave remarkable performances than men, who were noticed but never got that amount of respect, which they deserved.
- Even in common people’s lives, boys and girls are taught from different perspectives.
- Women are expected to learn all the cooking work & other household chores along with her studies and work,
- Women should learn cooking before marriage,
iii) Women should not wear revealing clothes,
iv) Women should not speak of her menstrual cycles loudly, no touching of idols, pads packed in a newspaper because it is a shame to speak in public or even to family members. Women are isolated in a different room, and all the things she needs are kept aside from everyone else. A literal practice of untouchability during her period is still followed in some households.
Why cannot men and women learn basic things equally like cooking, doing household work together?
Why can not a girl and a boy be taught equally from childhood?
Why cannot they be taught about changes in the modernized world?
Why not adopt those changes and move on?
Why are women criticized for their clothing and not men?
Wearing a blouse in okay, but wearing a crop top is not?
Why cannot men learn how to respect women?
Why a girl’s revealing bra strap is a shame and perceived as a sign, but men sagging (wearing pants below the waist, sometimes revealing much of the underpants) their pants is okay?
Why cannot men improve their attitude towards women?
Why not learn to ask for her consent?
Why not put some efforts to learn some basic manners?
Why not bring changes to society?
WHY? IS IT TOO HARD TO ACCEPT CHANGES?
This is the reason why we needed Feminism.
The issue here is about equal rights and equal access to opportunities.
Men and women do not have to be the ‘same’ in physicality to have the right to be equal.
Thus, Feminism has been associated with strong, forceful, and angry women, who wished that they deserve equal rights, along with man.
Our constitution has provided certain legal provisions for women, which are as follows,
- Article 14 – A14 (1), Equality before law & A14(2), Equal protection of the law.
It prohibits unequal treatment and demands. Equal treatment to everyone in the eyes of law. Thus, Law is supreme i.e. Rule of Law.
- Article 15 – Prohibition of discrimination. A15(1) & A15(2)
It prohibits the state from discriminating against any citizen based on religion, race, caste, sex, and place of birth or any of them.
A15 (3) makes it possible for the state to create special provisions for protecting the interests of women and children.
- Equality of opportunity.
- Article 16 – It provides for equality of opportunity for all citizens in matters relating to employment or appointment to any office under the State.
- Article 39 – A39(a), Requires the State to direct its policy towards securing for men and women equally the right to an adequate means of livelihood, and
A39 (d), equal pay for equal work for both men and women.
- Article 39A directs the State to promote justice, based on equal opportunity and to promote free legal aid by suitable legislation or a scheme or in any other way to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen because of economic or other disabilities.
- Humane conditions at work.
- Article 42 directs the State to make provision for securing justice and humane conditions of work and for maternity relief.
- Fundamental duty.
- A51(A)(e), enjoins upon every citizen to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women.
- Reservation of seats in panchayats & municipalities.
- A 243(D)(3) and A 243(T)(3) provide for reservation of not less than one-third of the total number of seats in Panchayats and Municipalities for women to be allotted by rotation to different Constituencies.
- A 243(D)(4) & (T)(4) provides that not less than one-third of the total number of officers of chairperson in the Panchayat and Municipalities at each level to be reserved for women.
The state has enacted certain provisions to provide equal rights to prevent them from social discrimination, thus, Crime against women are categorized into two,
- Crimes identified under the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
- Rape- S 376 of IPC.
- Homicide for dowry or dowry deaths or their attempts- S 302 & S 304(B) of IPC.
- Torture, both mental & physical- S 498(A) of IPC.
- Molestation- S 354 IPC.
- Sexual harassment- S 509 IPC.
- Crimes are identified under special laws.
- Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956
- The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 (Amended in 1995)
- Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961
- The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971
- The Equal Remuneration Act, 1976
- The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006
- Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986
- Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act, 1987
- The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005.
- Some of the feminist Indian women are as follows:
- SAVITRIBAI PHULE: 1st women to start school for girls, and 1st female teacher.
- TARABAI SHINDE: She protested Patriarchy and the caste system in the 19th century. Also known as a modern feminist for Stri-Purush-Tulna.
- KAMINI ROY: Poet, Suffragette, and First woman honours graduate in India.
- AVANI CHATURVEDI- 1st Indian women to fly a fighter plane and to join Indian Air Force along with other 2 women’s, after that government decided to open combat roles for women.
- Adv. GAURI KUMARI: 1st women VP of the ‘Munger Bar’ and has been working with the ‘All India Dalit Mahaila Adhikari MAnch’ since 2008. Mobilising voices for Dalit women in Bihar.
- JUSTICE LEILA SETH- 1st woman Chief Justice of State High Court and 1st woman Judge of Delhi High Court.
- SAMPAT PAL DEVI: She was known for the GULAB-GANG group, who used to track down the abusers and bit them with bamboo sticks until they regret their acts and would give justice to the victim. She belonged to a community in Indian, where violence was rigorous.
She was a mother of five and a former government worker. A lady who believed in deterrent punishment.
- In several communities in India, such as the Nair’s of Kerala, Shetty’s of Mangalore, certain Marathi gens, and Bengali families, exhibit matriarchal tendencies.
In these communities, the head of the family is the oldest woman, rather than the oldest man.
- Sikh culture is also regarded as relatively gender-neutral.
- BHANVARI DEVI V/S STATE OF RAJASTHAN.
- Bhanvari Devi belonged to non-dominant caste, she tried to stop the child marriage which was conducted by the dominant class.
- She was raped by the 5 non-dominant class people and her husband was bitten up. SC ruled out that the accused were not guilty by reasoning, ‘’ An upper caste man could not have spoiled himself by raping a lower caste woman.
- However, her case became the precedent for Vishaka & State of Rajasthan Guidelines, which paved the way for the Sexual Harassment Act at the workplace,2013.
- SUBRIMALA SHRINE CASE.
- In 1991, the Kerala High Court restricted entry of women above the age of 10 and below the age of 50 from Sabarimala Shrine as they were of the menstruating age.
- However, on 28 September 2018, the Supreme Court of India lifted the ban on the entry of women. It said that discrimination against women on any grounds, even religious, is unconstitutional.
- KERALITE SYRIAN CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY CASE.
- Mary Roy won a lawsuit in 1986 against the inheritance legislation of her Keralite Syrian Christian community in the Supreme Court.
- The judgment ensured equal rights for Syrian Christian women with their male siblings concerning their ancestral property.
- Until then, her Syrian Christian community followed the provisions of the Travancore Succession Act of 1916 and the Cochin Succession Act, 1921, while elsewhere in India the same community followed the Indian Succession Act of 1925.
NEGATIVE IMPACT OF FEMINISM.
Some men think to be born in India is a crime and to marry an Indian girl is a heinous crime because of anti-man laws to protect women.
Why does a man even think of it?
Have you ever thought of women harassing a man!
- Sometimes, without knowing the impact, effect & consequences, women file cruelty cases over trivial issues, which makes the victim a criminal in the mind of society. An uncalled arrest reduces the chances of settlement between the husband and wife, hence divorce is easily granted.
- Indian society laughs at a man when he says he has been raped. Indians do not believe any complaint about male rape. Indian society thinks that only men are delinquent of a heinous crime like rape, and they do not get that even women can rape a man. It is so judgmental.
Owing to such a mentality there are no laws for men who are survivors of rape.
- Men have started sharing their agony, torture, and harassment, abuse by women/spouses. They are no longer stronger than women.
- Even a man has feelings. If a woman can cry, then even a man can cry. If a woman can be sensitive, then even a man can be sensitive.
- If a woman deserves maternity leave, even a man deserves paternity leave. Simple as that, who does not want to spend time with their new-borns.
Thus, the enactment of appropriate intervention for men should be recognized for some serious issues such as violence against men by women, education, and legal safeguards, especially for the backward and lower-middle-class men.
In this modern era, a woman’s opinion is as important as a man. A girl can wear whatever she wants. She does not have to wear lipstick to impress a man, but for herself. Little girls would not be taught to be good-wives and be obedient, but to be successful in their career.
Thus, in rural areas, feminism should find ways to bring impact to greater importance about discrimination, biases, education, and work.
Feminism, is not just the fight of urban women, it’s a fight for every child who is mistreated, every infanticide, every child marriage, dowry deaths, rape, public shaming and even fighting for men when they are discriminated against.
Feminism is simply equal rights for all genders. Nevertheless, feminism must not be confused with Misandry (prejudice against men or boys in general). Feminism is not about hating men, it never was. Understand the true meaning of feminism & if you like it then support it, but do not spread fake feminism.
Thus, gender equality is no longer a feminist issue, but it is a HUMAN-ISSUE.
It is about learning and understanding the ways inequality affects men and women. We are here to grow and not to let anyone down, be it a man or a woman.