By Ashima Gujral:
“I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat”Â -Rebecca west
No other statement could more aptly catch the idea of feminism than the above. For centuries, women have been mere objects, made to live at the mercy of men, without any access to basic human rights. But feminism, over the years has carried on its struggle to fight for the liberation of women in every sphere of life and has succeeded greatly in getting women a major share of what they deserve.
But feminism which is the fight for women, has for obvious reasons, never been welcomed and treated the same way as the struggle for liberation of men. It was considered secondary and of least importance in this patriarchal society and is till date looked down upon.
India set a different example during its independence than what happened in the West. India gave the status of being a citizen to men and women equally and always propagated equality between the two genders, atleast on paper. But sadly, even today women have to ask for their rights and fight their case before they get what they want. The male psyche has not yet understood the real objective of feminism- which is to ultimately liberate all people by driving out any consciousness of gender based on physical appearance, from their hearts and minds. The male population conceives feminism as a threat to their own existence, their powers and prowess of dominance, but what they fail to realize is that the concept of women being inferior to men is ethically wrong.
Long ago, these notions whereby women had to oblige to every word that their husbands said, be treated as nothing more than an object of benefit to men, have no opinions or voice of their own unless being specifically referred to, have gone deep inside the roots of the people. Women till today have to live a subdued life and be dependent on their male counterparts. Any attempts at independent thinking are rewarded with utmost disdain. And for those women who are able to attain some family support at living a life of independence are brought down by the society which views feminism as an epidemic and strives to save its own offspring from being plagued with the thoughts of liberation. And most sadly, this ‘society’ does not only include the patriarchs but also those very set of women who have given up on their liberties long ago and now are too scared to let their children tread on a new path of enlightment.
Any desire to make feminism more acceptable requires the support of the male population. The levels of male consciousness need to rise as necessarily as the levels of female consciousness. And this can be achieved by making men understand that they themselves are now being caught in these socially created gender disparities. With the support and awareness of both the sides, it is possible to form a society which if not utopian, is atleast an image of a soon approaching ‘equal’ era.