We are often asked if we are a feminist? Some readily answer yes while others deny any involvement in the “man-hating” movement. So, what is feminism? Although the definition of feminism may differ from place to place, it can be inferred that feminism is a social, economical and political belief in the equality of genders.
Did you know that the feminist movement was born during the French Revolution? The feminism movement began as a resistance movement against the patriarchal society, which confided women to designated tasks like giving birth, cooking, and the right to own property. Today, feminism has expanded and has become more innovative and flexible, it is moving in the direction to help women regardless of their caste, race, ethnicity, color, economic status, and so forth.
Since the word feminism is connected to femininity and female, it is assumed that it is about the glorification of women. The movement did not start to take a plunge at men when the opportunity emerged. Feminists are comprehended as a group of females who refuse to cooperate with male society out of anger and hatred. The whole purpose of feminism was to educate the society about the problematic repercussion of gender privileges. The journey to female liberation has been long, let us have an overview of the feminist movement in the past.
The Feminist Movement
The feminist movement also called the women’s liberation movement in the west has gone through three phases. The ﬁrst wave(1848-1920) of feminist movements fought for unfettering of economic rights, oriented around the stations of upper-middle-class women. The unifying goal of the second wave(1963-1980s) was not just political equality which was fought by the first wavers, but social equality. The third wave began in the early 1990s continuing to focus on social and cultural inequality. The movement was more inclusive of women and women of different colors. Renewed campaigns and marches are included for greater influence of women in the political and social status as well as to spread awareness among the society. Although debated by some, the fourth wave of feminism began in 2012, the movement broadened a wide range of issues such as sexual harassment and body shaming, among other issues.
“The personal is political,” said Carol Hanisch, the second waver.
They argued that the problems faced by women that were considered petty and individual, about sex, religion, access to abortion, and domestic labor were in fact a part of political and, fundamental to fight for women’s equality.
AFTER EQUALITY, INEQUALITY
What led to the feminist movement? Was it because women were considered as inferior beings? If so, why? While there are innumerous reasons and debates, let us have some fact checks. Women are still considered inferior to men. For instance, the leaky phenomenon refers to the disproportionate decline of female scientists at higher academic career levels and is a major problem in the natural sciences. This refers to the disproportionate decline of female scientists at higher academic career levels and is a major problem in the natural sciences. Female scientists still pose a great challenge to the geosciences community. To top that, women's salaries just represent 82% of men's. It was comprehended that the difference in the salary of men and women was huge as higher positions were achieved. Women are more in less qualified fields than women in more qualified fields. This is a paradoxical phenomenon: educational data proved that women have exceptional training and have diplomas yet they occupy less important jobs.
The same phenomenon was found in other aspects such as political participation. In France, Women represent 55% of the electorate but are highly underrepresented. For example, in the national assembly, there were only 71 women deputies in the presence of 506 men deputies.
All these examples evidently prove that women are victims of sexist attitudes. Sexism is exhibited not just by discrimination but by inaction and clandestine ways of
introducing differences. As argued by Sanchez-Mazes and Cassini, there is a real glass ceiling effect for women. Women can obtain any job desired, she is just stopped by an invisible force. Henceforth, though the changes are evident, men are in a dominant position but that does not mean there hasn’t been any progress in society.
Even now females are struggling against the patriarchal society that represses with violence, anger, and harassment. However, there are people who are oblivious to the revolutionary movements. As the days are passing by, more women are getting aware of the unfair treatment at workplaces and repressive attitudes of people. Three major impacts of feminism that changed the world are social effect, psychological effect, and political effect.
As there are changes through time, significant change is observed in the political sector. The first victory was achieved in the 19th century, in the US, when the suffragist- women who fought for equality of rights. In 1869, in Wyoming after much struggle by women, legislators passed a bill that granted women the right to vote. Significantly in 1890, several other countries granted women the right to vote. The struggle in Latin America was particularly hard, women suffrage in Latin America ended in 1960. After decades of intense struggle, the amendment, known as Susan B. Anthony was passed which gave the right to citizens of the US regardless of their sex. While in India, India announced Universal Adult Suffrage right on 15th December 1970. Clearly, it was the biggest achievement of the feminist movement. The leadership of women like Michelle Obama, Pratibha Patil, Angela Merkel, Tsa Ing-wen is enough inspiration for women at social risk.
The social effect was an essential effect on the feminist movement. Many women are physically weaker than men and many men are considered aggressive, combining the psychological and environmental factors, it only led to more chances of domestic violence. According to a survey, The majority of people know about the domestic violence women go through. Men suffer domestic abuse too but there is a huge disproportion of the number of males to the number of females subjected to domestic violence. Every woman has the right to divorce, the right to control their lives and make their own medical decisions which are often not respected by their families. In India, abortion was considered taboo and women did not get much say in whether to have the child or not. Although, In January 2020, a union amended the 1971 Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act which allowed women to seek abortions as part of reproductive rights and gender justice. Abortion will be a debatable topic and laws are essential in deciding when life begins. In times of uncertainty, laws are necessary, laws provide a framework within which people can maneuver knowing with certainty if it is legal or not. The Center for Reproductive Rights is one group that is working internationally to advance reproductive rights for women. A powerful message was left by many famous figures, one being Mary Wollstonecraft, an activist and a passionate advocate for education and social equality for women and, Virginia Woolf, an English writer, the vision of Virginia Woolf was strongly based on the emancipation and independence of women as men.
The final effect, probably the most difficult one to achieve since women are linked to this patriarchal society, with thoughts and attitudes, is the psychological effect. The oppressive behavior is defected little by little. Another positive accomplishment of the feminism movement is that it helped women regain their confidence back and rediscover their identity. Nowadays, women have capability equal to that of men and are making a huge impact in all the sectors. Tyra banks organized a campaign that aimed at helping women gain acceptance of their real as well as reel imperfections. Many other celebrities like Emma stones, Ashton Kutcher, Beyoncé, and so forth, promote and support the idea of feminism.
Emergence of Anti-Feminist
While there are people who support feminism, there are those who are completely against it.
Antifeminist as the name suggests is the people against the concept of feminism in some or all forms. As claimed by people against feminism, if all the people in the family are treated as free and equal, the family is bound to collapse. Since a family is clearly based on the hierarchy of age and gender. Hence, a family is an inclusive part based on inequality.
This was the crux of the feminist criticism of the family, Feminism is not against the structure of the family or the vertical power hierarchy as long as all the members of the family are free of a restrictive, gendered commandment, accept mutuality, and give space of trust. Feminism is critical to the patriarchal family that deprives women and considers male superior.
The whole aim of the feminist movement is to overcome and strive for the unsaid prejudices faced by women as well as transgender rather than focusing on the men’s rights, as it will only shift the conversation from the victimization of women and transgender and undermine the process.
It can be concluded that feminism, in a period slightly more than 100 years, managed to change the perspective of women in this world. Women are finally encouraged to discover all the sectors and find themselves capable of doing things they imagined they would never do. Women have managed to break the stereotype, resulting in a world where both genders are treated in a non-biased manner and have equal privileges. Instant acceptance is sure difficult but isn’t impossible. Any society that follows discriminatory practices and institutions must be reorganized regardless of their customs and traditions. There is a fair amount of criticism against sexism and unfair practices, it up to us how we deal with it. Feminism managed to break stereotypes and has given women an opportunity to have equal privileges as that of men. The outcome of the feminism movement is truly worth the effort.