“The ‘feminisation of employment’ has had both positive and negative implications for the women concerned. On the one hand, it definitely meant greater recognition of and remuneration for women’s work; it typically improved their relative status and bargaining power within households; it improved their own self-worth, thereby leading to some empowerment. On the other hand, since most women are rarely, if ever, actually “unemployed” in their lives, as they are almost continuously involved in various forms of productive or reproductive activities (even if they are not recognised as “working” or paid for such work), paid employment for them may lead to an onerous double burden of work unless other social policies and institutions emerge to deal with the work traditionally assigned to (unpaid) women.”—Jayati Ghosh, “Never done and poorly paid”.
As many scholars have pointed out, the current developments are running against women, and thus it becomes important for feminists to point out this problem and demand better policies and programmes. So, should one criticise only this western model of development which, unfortunately, for developing countries like India, is linked with their former colonial masters and continues to this day?
Not just our economic system but our political, legal, and educational systems too are still based on British ones. However, the larger problem is patriarchy and not just the development model, because patriarchy is a system that oppresses and subordinates women, both in private (by domesticating them) and public (by not implementing policies for them). Feminist scholar Kamla Bhasin, through her book “What is Patriarchy?” suggests that if housework gets the respect, the recognition, and the value that is its due, men would not only start acknowledging it but might also start doing it.
However, this process is extremely difficult, especially in a context where women have faced and continue to face backlash for standing up for their rights. People who bash women for doing so fail to understand that every issue is a “women’s issue” because everything affects women. Hence, everything must be viewed from a feminist perspective.
“One person’s peace may be another person’s poison,” writes Kamla Bhasin in “What is Patriarchy?”.
While facing backlash, it was mainly the feminists who suffered. Feminists are simply people who want dignity and respect. Still, feminists were charged with accusations of “breaking peaceful homes”. To this, Kamla Bhasin very profoundly answers: “feminists do disturb homes but not “peaceful” homes, because the “peacefulness” of most homes is a façade, behind which lie the demolished feelings, individualities, emotions and dreams of numberless women.” Rather than accusing feminists, should the patriarchal structures not be held responsible for creating disharmony and breaking up families? Don’t they crush women and their dreams, their desires, their personalities, and their existence?
The only way to “save” the home and family is to change the nature of female-male relationships within them.
“Feminism makes people uncomfortable because it is perhaps the only ‘ism’ which enters the ‘sanctity’ of the home, which concerns the intimate of our relationships, which questions our very beliefs, attitudes and behaviour patterns as well as our values and our religions. Since feminism challenges society at every level, this means challenging the status quo of interpersonal and family relationships,” writes Bhasin.
Coming to the traditionally assigned unpaid work to women, womanhood is not equal to motherhood. Establishing this is a feminist struggle, to obtain a time where women have a choice (legal, social, and psychological) to have or not have children. The ability and capacity to be a mother are not biologically determined. This a scientific truth. Thus, motherhood should not be the destiny of women. Motherhood is to be shared with men too!