FEMINISM- a necessity or a drama (PART-1)

The word FEMINISM comes from the word FEMININE which means “being a woman”. How is it that out of over a million words in the English language this particular word has created an uproar in the recent times with each woman becoming a “Feminist” proclaiming about her rights under this word and is criticized by others who think this is all a show of gaining attention , popularity and superiority. Read this blog completely to understand what actually caused to the popularity of the word , its implication in Indian terms and how has it helped women.

Feminism

FEMINISM refers to social , political and economic equality to women with respect to the males. Since God has given a woman the power to create life and nurture it , she automatically has a greater emotional quotient and her motherly attributes of being considerate, polite, loving , emotional is taken to be her weakness. Further since she has the organs to produce a human being , she is termed as “delicate” or in real words “WEAK”. WEAK is the term which has led the males believe that they are stronger and more capable and this has led to them ruling a woman since ages. The irony of the situation is that it is not just the males but also few women who thinks the entire woman race to be a subordinate to men and is born just to be a frustration box for the males.

So feminism in simpler words can be termed as a movement which was started to get women equal rights in education, property and employment matters and travelled as far as to the emotional treatment a woman has to suffer. It defines that a woman should be judged on the basis of her mental strength, her capabilities, her behavior rather than being judged for just being a WOMAN. It stands for women standing up to the male dominating world to fight for their self respect .

History of Feminism

The first instance of feminism which was the earliest reported one darts all the way back to 3rd century BCE in Rome where Roman women filled the Capitoline Hill and blocked every entrance to the Forum when consul Marcus Porcius Cato resisted attempts to repeal laws limiting women’s use of expensive goods. Cato’s words “If they are victorious now, what will they not attempt? As soon as they begin to be your equals, they will have become your superiors” proves that he somewhere believed women to be capable of exceeding men and it was this fear of letting that race which was suppressed since ages to be set free without any illogical restrictions bounding them which will make them realise their worth and will subsequently be no longer a personal robotic toy for men.

There was a time when the entire world was suppressing women. Women in each part of the world were denied the rights which would ensure her success instead she was just being treated as a caged animal. Until 19th century Europe did not give the women the right to inherit their father’s property which generally goes to the first child . In the absence of mail heir the property would go to a male relative however distant or evil he maybe. Jane Austen’s novel PRIDE AND PREJUDICE is the best example to this point where the Bennet family which consisted of all females had no right to their ancestral property .

While there were many other rules for women such as they had to step out covering their head as a mark of respect for the “SUPERIOR MALES”, had no right to vote or hold an elective office, cannot participate in any sort of buisness and went as far as to a man getting right to sell of his wife in many parts of the world. These actions proved that women were treated to be a non living enity with no feelings whatsoever.

After several protests, letters addressing women concerns being published, criticism the cause faced by the chauvinists , the woman were granted their rightful rights in many places in the world but the battle is till to be won. Many countries specially the ones in Asia still are treated as the object of male plight and fury.

With different culture the take and views on feminism chnages, let us see what brought about the changes for Indian women though the Feminism here was partly inspired by the west but its meanings and implications are different for the Indian women.

Feminism in India

Women in India are oppressed not only by the males but more by the fellow females. It is like a sort of inheritance being passed from one generation to the other where a girl is told by all the females in her family be it grandmother, mother or aunts that she should always keep all the males in her family above her and sort of idolise them and they are led to believe that if something wrong happens with them then it is the result of their own actions. This is the reason that many women silently suffer all kinds of domestic violence till their last breaths because this was what they had been taught since their birth.

Feminism in India can be divided into broadly three phases.

  • The first phase was witnessed in mid 19th century when several reforms in education and customs involving women were introduced. Sati, a practice which involved a woman setting herself on the fire by sitting on her husband’s pyre incase he expires before her, was abolished by Raja Ram Mohan Roy in the British Rule. This till date is considered as a biggest step in encouraging a woman where she was told she is much more than being a wife and her life does not ends with her husbands. Rani Lakshmi Bai the woman who fought Britishers with her infant son tied on her back after her husband’s death to save her kingdom from their clutches still continues to be an inspiration for many.
  • The second phase was witnessed from 1915 till India gained its independence and it started with Mahatma Gandhi incorporating women into his non cooperation movement , a first open political gathering where females were included. After this movement there were various Independent female groups created to fight for the Independence which managed to be off radar and continue their contribution in secrecy as Britishers had no hope that Indian women can step out of their domestic roles.
  • The third phase was witnessed after independence where women were included in the formation of the world’s largest democracy, has the power to vote and hold an elective office ,get educated and be independent. This phase continues till date and has witnessed many changes along the way. From it becoming normal for girls to get educated and work, to the extension of minimum age of marriage for a girl till 18 years by the Constitution of India to prenatal sex determination and Female Infanticide being considered as a criminal offence with severe punishment it may seem that India has come a long way and the women here are treated with equality and respect which they deserve but sadly this is not the case. Though the upper surface appears to be cleared there are still many horrible trenches inside.

Present Condition of Women in India

Feminism and plight of women in India cannot be sumarised under a single term. The heterogenity of Indian cultures bring with it multiple patriarchies and multiple feminist movements but the basic plight remains the same.

India is a highly patriarchal society where even today in 2021 people claim to be modern and “allowing their women” to have privileges same as that of men but the small privileges of getting educated , working comes at a price. Price of still not be able to take stand when she is wronged , the reason being a woman is pointed every time she becomes a victim while in some case she may act to be a victim hence committing a grievance sin but this minority is turned into making independent decision taking woman being regarded as “too bold” or “unfit” for the society by the chauvinist groups.

****Since even the basic points regarding the topic are indefinitely extended and talked about, it is difficult to make all the basic points in one blog and there will be a continuation to this blog soon.

I would conclude this blog here by stating that feminism is not the superiority of females over the males rather it is about them being treated equally both physically and mentally without any prejudice about them being a woman. It takes a lot to be a woman and to every woman out there be proud of what you are!