Fe‘men’ism: A movement for all?
When humans make a simple concept into a complex structure, thinking that the more complex a structure is, the more conveniently people can use it to their situations, the truth ceases to exist. All that remains is a tool that one uses to their will and whim. The same thing happened when we were attempting to understand the concept of Feminism, the failure of which resulted in pseudo-feminism.
The revolutionary start of Western feminism began in the late nineteenth century by Mary Wollstonecraft who formed several important resolutions like demanding the right to vote and reproductive rights. This was the first wave of feminism. The second wave of feminism was inspired by the Civil Rights movement. This wave questioned the traditional role of women in households and it was also the beginning of the queer rights movement. The third and fourth waves brought about a huge difference in our society by talking about sexuality, dressing styles and mainly focusing on the freedom that the LGBTQ+ community deserves. Some observed the fourth wave to be an extension of the third wave regardless, this wave touched on topics such as ‘intersectionality’, a concept which taught us that differences between caste, creed and gender should be celebrated and used to reach out to
one another rather than spark hate. The famous ‘Me Too’ movement also led a fire within the hearts of all, a movement that spoke against sexual harassment and crimes, publicizing the allegations resulting in a created awareness to the rest of the world. The history of feminism has transformed this movement of freedom for women into a movement of inclusion. Valuable questions of empowerment, safety and education have resulted in understanding the flaws of our society. This movement is evolving, the more we fuel it with humanity, the more it flowers to freedom.
Being raised and brought up by wonderful women around me, feminism was not a concept that I had to learn or read through a book, it was a concept that lives within me regardless of my intellectual manners of expression. I stayed with my grandmother who found joy in handling the house, in cooking and keeping dust off the tables, in feeding me, in keeping the rest of us happy. My grandfather worked hard to keep us happy as well, he had a stable job, and this was routine. As I grew up, of course there were new concepts which were very complex to me. One instance particularly intrigued me which I never understood. It was a situation where a question was thrown to my grandmother, asking her why she does not earn a living or work and why is she giving in to the patriarchal nature of my grandfather and why is she wasting her life feeding all of us? I have presented this case several times to my friends to know their opinion, most of them have a similar reply which was that she as a woman was conditioned to take care of us and so she never knew what freedom was, so I decided to ask my grandmother and her answer was simple, “Feminism means the freedom to do what I want, if I feel free in feeding my child and my husband, why am I wrong?”
This answer coming from a poorly educated woman created an impact on me that is too
large to express, it showed me that over the years maybe we have dived so much into defining and creating new terminologies and protesting mindlessly against the world that maybe we have forgotten the true meaning. If women want to earn a living, who are we to stop them? But if women want to devote themselves to their families, do they become less of women? Isn’t feminism freedom? I think it has gradually digressed from being free to being economically prejudiced. You can easily see this and wonder why a businesswoman is interviewed much more than women who devote their life to their families, because we have assumed that one is superior to the other, we have assumed that the economic value directs the value of a woman.
The history of feminism assumes that it is a political and a sociocultural whirlpool. I think it has more to do with the psyche and inner workings of an individual. I look at feminism from a personal perspective rather than that of a sociocultural perspective and this might cause problems for some, to which I would say that the consequence of wars, famine, failure of these movements is not due to external actions but rather due to internal behaviors. For years, women of the world have gone through different kinds of tyrannical situations and they have come out victorious, well some of them at least. I say some of them because those who have taken feminism as a competition rather than an expression of freedom have really lost the real purpose of the movement. Let us take an example of sports, wrestling or tennis for that matter, I have actively heard some women protesting against this unfair treatment, they want the women to fight men, make it mixed rather than men against men and women against women. You see the problem here arises when you have taken a biological fact of an organism and have decided to go against it while twisting it into a psychological opinion, men and women are known to have different body sizes, densities and structures. This structure of men against men and women against women were not created because women were less than men but because it was recognized that the abilities of both differ, as I mentioned earlier, we are running in different races, so the comparison is extremely juvenile. Protesting unfairness on someone’s natural biology is a clear indication of ignorance, you can’t compete with a chimp in climbing a tree, not because you or him are less than each other in any way but the chimps structure, body and abilities differ from yours and so he lives his life in his way and you live yours.
My understanding of feminism comes from the understanding of freedom, especially for a woman to understand that feminism as a concept and as a movement that still functions with the goal of following one’s freedom and not comparing the oppression faced by one gender over the other. You see, ‘one’ of the tangents that this movement went in the modern times is ‘misandry’ which is essentially having a bias and prejudice against men. For a misandrist, they have a different goal of their own, they do not wish for freedom for women or themselves, at least not directly. They have an ideology of ‘switching power’. Over the decades, the power of society has lied with men and that is one aspect through which misandry has come into being, they wish to switch power here where women are above men. It is quite a task to draw the line between misandry and modern feminism because both want to obtain freedom but one wants to do so by pushing the other. It is like nationalism and aggressive nationalism, nationalism is love for your country, which is alright and then comes aggressive nationalism which is love for your country at the cost of the other, which means you hate the rest of the countries while being in love with yours.
Before one concludes as to what defines feminism, it is important for us to go inward psychologically. Concepts are never the problem but the way we grasp it decides if we have really understood it or not. Feminism is a concept aimed for freedom, it is as much as a man’s movement as it is for the women, it is a humanistic movement, but unless one understands, thinks about it, digs deep into oneself, this movement will never become a part of us, it will never become something intimate and personal for us, it will just remain a social movement.