Updated: Jul 16
“It is time that we all see gender as a spectrum instead of two sets of opposing ideals. We should stop defining each other by what we are not, and start defining ourselves by who we are.” -Emma Watson
Feminism, the term, has become an uncomfortable one, people over the globe have misconceptualized it to man-hating. This undertone and stigma around feminism needs to stop because feminism means the equality of all the people regardless of genders, race and class. It’s about time that we learn that gender is a spectrum. And the notion that this is predominantly a women’s movement needs to stop. Feminism doesn’t imply demanding female superiority (which much of the stigma around feminism is based on). Feminism is a radical notion that women and people who aren’t privileged, are oppressed by the toxic patriarchy and history has it that this has happened perpetually over the centuries. The simplest way of unfolding the meaning of feminism is, that it means equal opportunities to one’s potential so as to avail personal growth, better living standards as a human and not to exist bounded by the shackles of patriarchy and heteronormative webs that have been normalised over the centuries.
When I say feminism isn’t a women VS men issue, I firmly mean that it is the oppressed people under the wheel of patriarchy- issue. Now, what is patriarchy and what struggles it has continued to throw on people. Patriarchy, by definition,means a social system in which men hold primary power and predominate in roles of political leadership, moral authority, social privilege and control of property. Over the decades, the brunt of patriarchy has been faced by women, the queer people and as shocking as it may sound men themselves have faced it too.The strain of patriarchy has been faced by all, the magnitude varies significantly. It’s time we acknowledge that this so-called social system is damaging the society we live in. And no matter how urbanised cities are or how developing a country might be, the truth of the matter is that patriarchy still exists. And if you think that it doesn’t exist, let me enlighten, that’s your privilege speaking. Your privilege may refuse to accept it but ask a woman who has been denied equal pay for the same job to her male counterparts, ask a man who isn’t allowed to cry because of societal norms and futhermore ask a queer person of the struggles they have to face; ask them ‘’Is this the world they want to live in?’’ You will be amazed at the answers and surely they are going to burst your bubble. Patriarchy has only given birth to normalising gender roles and prejudices. Our world tends to consider a man as an idol when he can cook and bashes the same one when he expresses emotion and vulnerability or simply is turned into a joke when he wears makeup. Crying, the act of shedding tears is a basic emotion and yet here we are judging it as weak for men. Prejudices like “women fit only for household chores and that women should never raise their voices to disagree ' still exist. The fact that we tend to underrate a homemaker speaks a lot because the society has normalised it into a responsibility they are born to fulfil. Also, how many times have we ever asked a man if he is going to continue working after marriage? Not even once, right? Then why does society unabashedly ask this question to a woman? The problem isn’t that this question is not asked to a man, the problem is why this question has to be thrown on the face of a woman at all in the first place. The idea that women seem like objects who deem fit only for courtship and motherhood has to go. The queer community as well faces struggles due to hetronormative patterns and homophobic patterns set by this toxic patriarchy. We as a society have failed to acknowledge and provide them a safe environment to live in. The stigma of gender roles stereotypes, homophobic patterns, slurs to dehumanise the queer people and the toxicity of patriarchy has borne a rotten downfall as well as ghastly webs of prejudice.
Feminism is the belief in the social, political and economic equality of all the genders. It works towards equality and has nothing to do with making men inferior. The wave of feminism has resulted in some great changes and they are as follows:
● It gave the economy a huge boost and it has created a positive mark in between the industries. Increasing women’s participation in the labor markets will boost GDP by 21% in Italy, 16% in Japan and 9% in America.
● In tertiary education, women outnumber men, and enrolment is increasing faster for women than for men.
When women who aren’t the victims make excuses for the perpetrator, when your gossiping aunts make questionable statements about your career and courtship, I am sure you have heard many examples likewise. This is indeed toxic and this has to go, regardless of gender. While discussing Feminism, the term ‘toxic femininity’ often comes into light. It refers to the gender expectations that keep women subservient, quiet and submissive to men’s domination and aggression. People who misinterpret the term toxic masculinity and conclude it's insulting and go on to invent a word to hide the wrongdoings that women have faced over the decades. It’s subjective if the term really does exist or not in the world.
There is a lot that we need to unlearn and learn so as to break these shackles set according to “societal norms.” Feminism aims at equality of every human regardless of gender and it firmly believes that the capabilities of a human cannot be limited by their gender. A person’s gender does not give grounds to rebuke them of opportunities and representation. It’s important to remember that the term - Feminism was coined initially so as to acknowledge the struggles and oppression faced by women in different spheres of life. As it gradually transcended, feminism became more than just women’s rights. Thus, became a movement which included everybody regardless of gender and with a notion for all humans to be truly equal. Feminism continues to help and gives everyone a voice to be heard and seen with equality. Feminism aims for a better world with equal sense of worth, equal chances to contribute to this world as a whole.
Bibliography https://www.mic.com/articles/88277/23-ways-feminism-has-made-the-world-a-better-place-f or-men https://neweralive.na/posts/toxic-feminism