WHAT DOES FEMINISM STAND FOR TODAY?

The youth today are questioning the feminist movement, asking if it is a gender-exclusive movement if it is still relevant if the movement has taken a detour from its original plans, and even asking if the term itself is correct or not.

To define feminism, it is a range of social, political and ideological movements which strive to achieve equality among the sexes in all spheres of life. This movement has gone through a lot of changes, not just in its demands but also in what it stands for.

In the first wave of feminism, the movement stood for equal rights being given to women, not considering them inferior to men, for this was the society’s way of thinking back then in the 19th and early 20th centuries. At this time, countries were becoming free of tyrants and becoming democratic, men were being granted the right to vote, right to property, etc, and everyone said that these rights were universal and undeniable. Yet, a major fraction of their population was denied these so-called ‘self-evident’ rights!

The latest wave, however, has been more gender-inclusive, incorporating the idea of toxic masculinity and how it affects the personality of men. Feminists have fought against ideas like ‘men will be men’, ‘boys don’t cry’ and ‘be a man!’ at a global level. They have campaigned for giving men emotional freedom and fought against the idea that emotions make one look weak. Thus, we see that Modern feminism stands against gender stereotypes and fights for equality for all, regardless of gender.

Just like any social movement, feminism too is open to interpretation. While some interpretations benefit society and make the movement more inclusive, like the one about toxic masculinity, some interpretations however lead to a negative backlash. Words like ‘misogyny’, ‘misandry’, ‘male chauvinism’ and even ‘pseudo feminism are words that are being associated with the feminist movement of today.

These terms are often misused and make people believe that this is what feminism stands for; female domination and hatred against the other gender.

Feminists today are often called ‘man-hater and ‘femi-nazis’ because now feminism has become an almost colloquial slang word for someone who believes that women are superior to all and that men are worthless. Today, when someone says that they are a feminist, they also have to specify that they don’t hate men!

For many years now feminism has got a lot of negative connotations attached to it. Firstly, people get very offended by the prefix ‘fem’ in feminism for they think that this means the movement advocates female superiority. What we must understand is that when the word was coined, the movement was fighting for the rights of women, thus it was thought to be appropriate to include the name of the less-privileged gender in the name of the movement.

Saying that feminists are against men because the term itself has no mention of the other gender, is quite illogical. Feminism at its core works toward achieving equality for both the genders and now even for those who do not conform to the binary genders.

Coming to the question of the movement’s relevance. As long as the wage gap still exists, the sex ratio is still uneven, families prefer boys over girls and consider them a burden, women are judged and questioned on all of their actions even if men doing the same thing aren’t, and men consider women inferior to them just because they’re women, the society will need feminism.

The circumstances that the women in the 19th century underwent were quite different from the circumstances in which modern women live now, and this is obvious because two hundred years brought about a lot of societal changes.

Women today do have the right to vote, right to property, right to education but yet they face discrimination at workplaces, their representation in the legislature is abysmally low, they are still unsafe even in their households; there are many other hurdles for them to overcome.

Thus, till the day these hurdles and obstacles exist, we would need feminism, and over the course of time, demands and fights would change, but at the end of the day, we all would unite under the umbrella of Gender Equality.