I recently saw the much hyped movie – Veere Di Wedding, which post its release and to no ones surprise had been in the limelight for it’s controversial content. That got me thinking about the modern independent woman, feminism and how it is perceived in our society, even in the twenty first century. The film is about women who want to enjoy life on their own terms and mind you, they get to do that but don’t want to be judged for it by anyone. They don’t want to follow the norms of society but also seek acceptance for their rebellion. They are ashamed of their sexuality and don’t want to face the consequences of their bold choices. No offense to anyone but it’s things like these that set us back centuries, frankly, I’d rather re-watch Lipstick Under My Burkha, but this is not a movie review, so lets get to the topic.
At its core, feminism is about equality between the sexes, not advancing one over the other. Feminism is about giving women a choice, a chance, same as men. But that’s not what majority of the world feels about this subject. Feminists are advertised as brash, angry lesbians who hate men. Women do not need to drink, smoke, use cuss words and talk about sex all the time to sell the idea of liberation. Sure, it is a woman’s absolute choice to do so, but to make it seem like these are the real parameters of modernity, while skirting more real issues is delinquent. Trying to pass the most radical and extreme versions as the standard which, in this case, depicts a feminist as a man-hater who hates lipstick, crinkles her nose at stay-at-home moms, and unapologetically supports abortions on demand is probably the worst thing you can do for the agenda. So this is to all those “Feminazis” who are actually not helping the cause. People don’t realize you can be a feminist and pro-life. You can be a feminist and a stay-at-home mom. You can be a feminist and disagree with the birth control mandate passed in the US. You can be a feminist but still want to be wooed and be pampered by your man. I am a feminist and unapologetically demand chivalry.
This radicalization is the reason why there is so much hostility pertaining to the theme. Anti-feminist groups like ‘Women Against Feminism’ are spouting everywhere holding placards on social media as that is the latest fad, “I don’t need it because I already feel equal” and “I don’t want feminism because I don’t need special treatment, and don’t support sleeping around”. A lot of such groups were spawned after the ‘my CHOICE’ video, specifically over ‘sex outside marriage’ statement. My opinion on the video, and you might disagree with that, is that the video at no point glorifies promiscuousness. It does not preach infidelity. The Indian society is patriarchal and therefore women need to spell out their choices and I agree, at the same time be ready for the consequences of their actions prompted by those choices.
Although women’s suffrage and equal rights are no longer the driving forces of feminism, like in the first and second waves of feminism, pay gap and lack of women in leadership roles is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to it’s exigency. We need feminism because we teach women how to prevent rape, instead of teaching people to not view women as objects. Because women are told that walking alone at night makes them “an easy target.” Because, a movie’s rating depends on how much a female appears to be enjoying sex in a certain scene. We need feminism because our bodies are still being legislated, because McDonald’s still asks us if we want a girl or boy toy, because we use terms like “bitch” to imply weakness. We need feminism because movies like Lipstick Under My Burkha, Fifty Shades of Grey, Magic Mike are still banned in a lot of countries. We need feminism because FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) is still practiced in 29 countries, to girls as young as 5 months old. Because more than 120 countries don’t have laws against marital rape, and still allow child brides — some as young as 6 years old. We need feminism because of female foeticides and infanticides, and because in Afghanistan women going to college can be considered justifiable grounds for disfiguring. Because women, when they disclose, are not really believed unless they are part of a pattern. Why do we need feminism, you ask? For the same reason screenwriter John Whedon gave when asked why he writes such strong female characters, “Because you’re still asking me that question.”
Society’s apprehension towards feminism is the catalyst for its defeat. We can argue six ways to Sunday and lambaste misogyny all we want, but it still won’t make an impact till everyone realizes it’s need. Just making sure your girls go to school is an unrealistically oversimplified solution. The first step to solving a problem is to accept that it exists and that something needs to be done about it starting at grassroot level. “Has feminism gone to far?”, the answer is a resounding NO. It’s only just warming up.