Is Feminism Still Alive? Is It A Dirty Word?

Posted on August 20, 2010 in Society

By Shraddha Sankhe:

What does Feminism mean to you? Is the fact that women have equal voice is scary? Or is it liberating for men to have women liberated? Are you a woman who hates being sidelined by a prettier lass? We’re a global village now. And Feminism is no more restricted to NGOs and social activist groups. It catapulted into a wide phenomenon in the 1970s only to fade away and show its fiery wings in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Today its awareness is the need of the hour.

Time magazine published a provocative cover story-“Is Feminism dead?” and it was this cover that raised many a questions that had been left unanswered for decades altogether. Somehow Feminism has always spelt a dirty word. A woman fighting for a woman is assumed to be anti-man. Sally Kempton, the famous monk who’s a master in meditation techniques-an expert in her field says-“I became a feminist as an alternative to becoming a masochist”.

Really, is feminism still alive? And is it still a dirty word? Coming to the common assumptions people make-I believe it is very important for us-as the thinking population on this planet to think beyond sexuality and equality. Yes, we need sexual liberation and equality among all. But what is expected of a growing populace is an outlook very determined to bring woman their honor. “When women succeed, it is by luck; but when a man succeeds-he could be working very hard!” –this is a rash thought. Let us not teach this to our kids.

In India, after an average of 4.2 years of domestic abuse, does a woman report her state to the police or the local NGO. Moreover, Crime Against Women Cell of the national capital police registered that only 17% of the women abused by their husbands or in-laws got support from their homes. This is appalling. A modern day girl finds maximum support from her parents before marriage. And it is shameful that after she is wedded to her spouse-“Humari zimmedari khatam!” i.e. “Now our responsibility towards our daughter is over”– stance is taken by most Indian families. Really, I am curious to know-is your unmarried daughter or sister a burden on your shoulders? Isn’t she self-sufficient? If not, are you not responsible towards it? And yes, there is no alternative to answering these rhetorical questions even if you’re a woman who has been facing enough troubles of her own.

Feminism is this. It is asking questions. It is the expectation to expect answers to these questions without having to eat back my words because my father, brother or husband disapproves. Feminism is not being a lesbian. Leave alone a man; I believe there is no woman-worthy of her womanhood-who can ever refute Feminism as anti-social. Cheris Kramarae and Paula Treichler have strongly asserted-“Feminism is the radical notion that women are people”.

We’re on the onset of a new age. Newer generations are looking up from their mother’s bosom and questioning the existence of Feminism. I personally believe that everyone has an opinion-biased, unbiased or cruel. I, a woman with her galaxy of questions and rebuttal from the real world do not expect just equality. I demand a metamorphosis of the stagnant school of thought-often sounding like-“You’re a woman, this job/work/career/boy/life isn’t meant for you”.

I’d apologize if I sound very preachy. And I’d be grateful if you’re reading this. The woman in me and the woman in every woman deserve appreciation and genuine consideration.
To conclude-I’d quote a quote that tells all about Feminism-
As published by an unknown author in The Torch, September 14, 1987:

Because women’s work is never done and is underpaid or unpaid or boring or repetitious and we’re the first to get fired and what we look like is more important than what we do and if we get raped it’s our fault and if we get beaten we must have provoked it and if we raise our voices we’re nagging bitches and if we enjoy sex we’re nymphos and if we don’t we’re frigid and if we love women it’s because we can’t get a “real” man and if we ask our doctor too many questions we’re neurotic and/or pushy and if we expect childcare we’re selfish and if we stand up for our rights we’re aggressive and “unfeminine” and if we don’t we’re typical weak females and if we want to get married we’re out to trap a man and if we don’t we’re unnatural and because we still can’t get an adequate safe contraceptive but men can walk on the moon and if we can’t cope or don’t want a pregnancy we’re made to feel guilty about abortion and… for lots of other reasons we are part of the women’s liberation movement.”

It is not about women’s rights anymore. It is respect we ask for. And we mean it. If God was a woman-she’d nod in agreement.