Gloria Steinem

A Voiceless Society

Feminism isn’t about making women stronger. Women are already strong. It’s about changing the way the world perceives it. — G.D. Anderson

These words by G.D. Anderson, a famous writer and feminist, stand true to the idea of feminism.

Patriarchy has established its roots since time immemorial and has been regarded as the most basic social system that is prevalent in all societies. We live in a society, primarily dominated by men. -A society where men are the bread winners of the family and women are responsible for the household chores and rearing of children. Masculinity is associated with valour, power, aggression, dominance, whereas femininity is associated with weakness, inferiority, fragility. Clearly, the situation of women in our country has remained worse, and even now there is not much change that can be seen in their situation. On one hand, goddesses are treated with utmost respect and on the other hand, women are denied even the basic rights. The so-called women rights are beautifully inscribed in the constitution books but are never put to practice. Women are treated as objects of pleasure. Even movies have left no stone unturned in objectifying women.

I don’t hold the men responsible for this. In my opinion, it is the system, society that has taken its toll. Knowingly or not, but we have assigned different roles to both the genders which is a huge cause of gender disparity. When a small boy cries, instead of telling him to simply stop crying, people tell him to ‘stop crying like a girl’. What does this show? Isn’t this conditioning of the boy from an early age that he is superior to his female counterpart? There is a reason why family is considered as the primary agent of socialization. Family plays a very important role in teaching the early lessons of life to a child. However, sadly, one of the early lessons that a child learns is the practice of patriarchy/male dominance. From the very beginning, a child observes the difference in treatment between the two genders. He sees his mother weak and his father as the authoritative figure.

People associate different professions with genders. A man is not supposed to be a chef because cooking is a woman’s job or a dancer because it’s against his masculinity. How can a profession define anyone’s sexuality? Yes, I agree this practice is not that common in the urban areas. Nowadays, even women are working and contributing to the family income. But these practices still prevail strongly in the rural areas as well as in some parts of the urban areas of our country. A daughter who made her parents proud is given compliments like “you are not our daughter, but our son.” I wonder, how can it ever be a compliment? For me, it is an understatement of the potential of women.

Taking my own experiences into consideration, there have been times when I had to compromise with situations, only because of the fact that I am a girl. Even after having completed my education from a convent school, I was never allowed to go for excursion trips or sleepovers. Why? Because I am a girl. That explains it all. Now when I am in my early twenties and about to finish my graduation, my relatives are pouring in with pictures of the ‘suitable grooms’ for me. And I am sure this is the case with most girls of my age. Am I now ‘entitled’ to get married? On the contrary, the males of my age are burdened with expectations of getting a good job. Why such different level of expectations from the two genders? These are very minute examples of inequality from everyday life. But they give a clearer picture of our society.

There is a strong need to improve the condition of women in this country.  Many campaigns have been organised to work for the issues related to women. Feminists as we commonly call them are the people who believe that men and women are entitled to equal rights and equal treatment.  They organise campaigns for the betterment of women that are referred to as feminist movements or feminism.

A feminist is anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men. — Gloria Steinem.

The term feminism can be used to describe any political, social, economical or cultural movement that aims to establish equal rights, opportunities and legal protection for women. It is basically concerned with the upliftment of women, so that they enjoy the same opportunities as that of men in the society.

There is a lot of debate going on these days, on the idea of feminism. Sadly, in the midst of discussing about the topic, people have lost track of what feminism actually is. The famous ‘My Choice’ video by Deepika Padukone, for example does not talk about feminism in any way. It does not talk about women empowerment either. The video was a weak attempt to show feminism. Also, talking about the counter argument, if men would have done the same, they would have been called with the worst of names. Feminism does not talk about the clothes that a woman wants to wear or who she wants to have sex with. Feminism is about equality of men and women in society.

The harsh reality is, there is no paucity of opportunities for women. The problem lies in the distribution of resources. Most women are not able to seize the opportunities either because their long distance travelling is an issue, or their work or education clashes with their married life. Yet, some women showed the courage to go beyond and set an example for women out there. Talking about MC Mary Kom, she became a world champion in boxing even after entering into motherhood. Barkha Dutt, incidentally a Jamia alumna, is one of the finest journalists of all times, covered the Kargil War and firmly established her feet in the field of journalism. Examples are few, but they are powerful. There is completely no doubt in the potential of women. One only needs to give them a chance.

When we say, that men are superior to women in the society, it does not mean that we have to take away the powers from men in order to make the women empowered. It only means that women must be given their due stature in society. People’s mentality must be changed in order to diminish the difference between these two genders. If a man can be the bread winner in the family, so can a woman. If a woman can do household chores, so can a man.

Feminism demands equality of both the sexes. To make a difference, there is a need to change the mindset.

About Munazza Ansar

Munazza Ansar
Munazza Ansar (2016) is an undergraduate student in the Department of Social Work, JMI.

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One comment

  1. Everyone talks about feminism and it sure is one popular term but this piece defines it exactly the way it is. Much helpful in giving a clear picture about one of the most mis-interpreted topics. Intelligent and thoughtful writing. Nice work.

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