Feminism: A Misunderstood Phenomenon

Women all around the world face various discrimination. Feminism is an idea to give power to their voices. Women should be honored and respected just like men. Achievements of women in the world of today stand out and become an inspiration for others. It should be a way of life to acknowledge women. Feminism is not taking anything away from men. It is trying to bring females on par with men.

Read more: Fiza Farhan Elected as a Member of UN Panel on Women Empowerment

Introduction to Feminism: A Misunderstood Reality

Feminism wants to bring an understanding of the struggles of women and provide solutions to the issues. It is important to acknowledge that women of all colors, races, and classes are stigmatized. They need support and rights to live a better life. They need economic, educational, and progressive opportunities to run their life on their terms.

Feminism has been misunderstood for a long time. Interestingly, only 20 percent of American admit to being feminist. This is due to the misleading perceptions created about this movement. However, if you ask people whether they believe in gender equality or not, the majority of them would say yes. Feminism has the same message – gender equality, but for many reasons, people have misunderstood this concept. Many people think that feminism is solely for women. This is an entirely wrong perception. Feminism vouches for equal rights.

Myths About Feminism

Myths, Women in Pakistan, History

Another misperception regarding feminism is that it is a concept centered around women’s hatred for men. This is also not true. The purpose of the movement is simply to bring equality of rights for all. Another negative perception about feminism is that it is against feminity. People think it wants to bring masculinity to females. This is also not true. The purpose of feminism is not to change the gender or natural instincts of women. It is actually to let females be the way they want to be.  Feminism is not against marriage, unlike popular belief. The concept of feminism is to bring better facilities and rights for even married women.

What is Feminism?

Feminism is a stance taken and a recognized movement for the recognition of women’s rights. The movement insists on complete equality with men. This implies equality at the levels of social, political, and economic. Many people are unaware of what sufferings females face in a patriarchal society. This philosophical movement came in to address the issues of women. It was formulated by the women for the women.

Gender Segregation

Gender Segregation, Equality, Men, Women

If you observe around you, there are plenty of unconscious segregations based on gender. Society starts segregation from the beginning of a child’s life. If it is a girl, you should go for everything pink. If it is a boy, everything should be blue. It cannot be vice versa. Similarly, boys are always encouraged to pick darker colors like blue, black, brown, or grey. They are not looked upon in a positive light if they are seen wearing feminish colors like pink or peach. This is entirely a societal construction, which feminism wants to deconstruct.

Equality for All

Feminism advocates the equality of both genders. They believe both men and women need to have an equal say, equal rights, and equal opportunities in life. It does not believe that males and females are biologically the same. Rather, it advocates that just because their bodies have differences does not mean they should be treated unequally. Females should not be regarded as weaker counterparts. Women have other strong physical features, which men do not have. In this case, feminism argues that the comparison of physicalities is not logical. It treats all sexes as significant and part of being a human altogether.

Feminism in Other Fields

The concept of feminism exists as a part of literature for all kinds of subjects. The subjects which talk about feminism and its impact include the following fields:

  1. Sociology
  2. Psychoanalysis
  3. Philosophy
  4. Women Studies
  5. Literature
  6. Anthropology
  7. Economics
  8. Philosophy
  9. Art History
  10. Literary Criticism

History of Feminism

History, Feminism, Women

The concept of feminism started when people started to critically investigate inequality between the genders. Women are change-makers and leaders. To this day, they are forced to fight for their lives. The struggle has continued for a long time. 1848 was a historical time for this movement. In the United States, a declaration of sentiments was signed. This was done at the Seneca Falls convention. Here the women activists protested and demanded their civil, political, and social rights.

Progress Over Time

In 1893, New Zealand sent a message across the world. They gave equal rights to vote to all women there. In the 20th century, women have been mobilized around the world.in 1911, International Women’s Day started to be celebrated all across Europe. The countries which specifically participated in this included: Switzerland, Austria, Germany, and Denmark. Since then, women have been motivated to fight for their rights. Newer career and educational opportunities have been given to women. In the same year, Raicho Hiratsuka, a Japanese-origin writer, pens down her thoughts on the need to change women’s traditional roles. In 1927, the Indian subcontinent held its first All India Women’s Conference. Also in 1951, Rosalind Franklin explored the Double Helix Theory in science. All these examples explained to the world how women can effectively contribute to the progress of the world.

United Nations’ Efforts for Feminism

The United Nations was formed after the destruction caused by world war one and two. The UN constructs the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The purpose of this agreement is to bring all countries of the world at peace. In 1948, Elena Rosavelt, a lady, led this act. In 1960, Dominican Republic’s Mirabel Sister inspired women to know about social justice. And in 1969, Sri Lanka elected their first female Prime Minister. The First World Conference on Women was held in 1975. The purpose was to talk about the pending issues and concerns of women. It was designed to find solutions to all these issues. In the same year, Women in Iceland went on strike. They demanded pay equal to what the men were getting for the same job.

In 1979, the International Women’s Bill of Rights was passed and approved. Another subsequent victory was the establishment of the UN Women division. In 1992, Rigoberta Menchu, a lady, obtains the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts. In 1994, the UN held its fourth conference in the city of Beijing. This conference was attended by 189 countries and had a total of 17,000 participants. At this conference, a liberal agenda for women’s rights was presented. In 2006, Ellen Johnson became the first woman leader in Africa. And in 2014, Malala Yousafzai was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. She became the youngest laureate to receive this honor.

Problems Still Persist

Despite all this progress, we still have loads of problems that need to be addressed. The patriarchal society, in many countries, continues to silence women. Social media, in the 21st century, helps to voice out women’s voices. The #Metoo movement has taken momentum on social media as a popular hashtag. It highlights women’s voices, opinions, and stories. It helps them in their fight against justice. Nonetheless, we need more grassroot activism to completely shun all negativity surrounding women’s rights. Women around the world need a sound shift in worldwide policies. Also, we need to change the traditional and old age thinking of people. The world should provide all human beings with equal rights.

Feminism – A Voice on Various Issues

Feminism does not in any way belittles men. It does not support sexism in any way possible. In other words, it does not solely promote females’ superiority. It focuses on working towards gender equality. A feminist tends to repsect other people’s opinions. They do not judge people based on their gender. The concept gives complete autonomy to people to make their logical decisions for themselves.

Types of Feminism

Third-wave feminism, Pro-sex feminism, Black feminism, Girlie feminism

There are multiple types of feminism. Each type caters to particular demands from discrete groups in the society:

  1. Third-wave feminism
  2. Pro-sex feminism
  3. Black feminism
  4. Girlie feminism

Each group caters to its own agendas and works on those issues.

Issues Which Feminism Talks About

Problems with equality, Feminism, Women

The conceptualization of Feminism covers multiple areas. It intends to intend discrimination against women on numerous levels.

Let’s discuss these issues one by one:

Reproductive Rights

Feminism vouches for complete rights to females to make decisions about their bodies. They should be permitted to use contraception to prevent unwanted pregnancies. They ought to be allowed to go for abortion if they are not willing to keep the child. Every woman should be given the right to go for sterilization if she does not wish to have babies. Lastly, she should be permitted to have childbirth in whatever way she prefers. She can go for cesaerean operation or a normal vaginal delivery. Also, a woman should be given complete rights on how many children she wants. The decision of timings and spacing between children should also be a decision for the woman to make. In other words, the lady’s comfort level is kept as the highest priority. This will ensure her mental peace and sound reproductive health.

Domestic Violence

The concept of domestic violence is a negative one. It is a kind of abuse. Usually women are victims of this crime. Women are physically tortured by men. They may cause injuries to women. These injuries may include bruises, cuts or even broken bones. Men victimize women by raping them. This is a form of sexual violence, where a woman is abused. Women may also face social isolation and depression because of these incidents.

Sexual Harassment

When a person tries to interfere in the privacy of a person, it is a type of harassment. It is a kind of bullying. Men may make sexual jokes about a lady. This can happen in front of her or behind her back. Sometimes people may like to share offensive rumors about a lady. Sending and sharing sexual messages is also a type of harassment. Showing inappropriate videos or photos to a person without their consent is also another type. Grabbing, touching, or pinching somebody physically is also a major form of sexual harassment. This includes brushing up against someone, taking off someone’s clothing, and touching people in a sexual way are all various forms of this heinous crime.

Related: Do Unethical Clothes Incite Sexual Harassment? 

Bodily Integrity

Feminism gives women the right to protect their body. They are allowed to say no to reproduction. Women should be allowed to use contraception. They should be given proper prenatal care. Women should also have abortion rights. Nobody should touch their body without their consent. They should be allowed to wear what they like. They should not be discriminated against based on their body, physical features, or clothing.

Workplace Rights

Women should be given complete rights to demand equal pay. They should not be discriminated against at the workplace because of their gender. If women have kids, they should be provided with a daycare facility to keep their kids. Women should be given complete rest in the form of maternity leave after their pregnancy. Ladies should not be harassed by their colleagues in any way. This includes verbal, physical or psychological harassment.

Sexist Language

Women face double standards even in language. This is called sexist language, where women are not included in the language. Feminism promotes gender neutral or gender inclusive language. For example, instead of ‘man’ we should use ‘people’; And instead of ‘mankind’ we should use ‘humanity’. Instead of ‘chairman’ we should use ‘chairperson’; And instead of ‘policeman’ we should use ‘police officer’. Just like that instead of ‘fireman’ we should use ‘firefighter’; instead of ‘mailman’ we should use ‘letter/mail carrier’; And instead of ‘salesman’ we should use ‘salesperson’. These changes were brought in the 21st century because of the popularity of feminism.

Physicality of Women

Women are often described in terms of their physical features. For example, ‘feisty’ is often used for women and not men. There are thousands of literary works that have been written with the patriarchal bent of mind. Feminism voices for a change in these works. The feministic literary studies show how patriarchy is dominant in the mindset. Because of all these reasons, feminists regularly demand to break free from sexist language.

Feminism in Pakistan

More than 52 percent of women are living in Pakistan. However, they live as second class citizens in Pakistan. Majority lack access to education. They face domestic violence as well. Sexism still dominates in the country. Patriarchy still rules the nation. Women are always taught to stay within control. Their activities are monitored and commented upon. We need to change these perceptions. Feminism is a way to counter such negativity prevailing in the country. Women should be given the right to how to live their lives.

Women in the US

Similar to Pakistan, even in the US every 1 out of 5 women have been raped. In these scenarios, 98 percent of rapists are men. This shows the dominaing misogny against women still exists in the developed and developing nations together It indicates that the fight of feminism has not ended. It still has a lot of barriers to cross.

Perceptions Around Feminism

In so many cultures around the world, people still believe it is okay to be subservient. Many people give religious examples to justify this stance. You will see a lot of people saying it is overrated and unnecessary. This is a sad reality.  There is a deeper need to understand this concept. People need to explore it more. It is because of feminism that women are able to reach to this point in history. Not all but at least some women are able to get proper education and a career for themselves. Feminism empowered women to vote, to work, to lead and to progress.

Misogyny

Men judge women that they will not be able to do so many things that they do. This is also wrong. It is unfair to compare physicalities. But, it is significant to consider that both genders are human beings. They should be given equal rights and respect regardless of their gender. Being a man does not mean to exercise masculinity. Being a man should mean giving respect, standing up against wrong things, and giving equality.

Future Prospects

Seeing the huge history which feminism holds, it is significant to understand the thoughts behind it. If we want to see a liberal, open and free world, we should start learning about feminism. Our purposes should be higher. The world needs to change its negative practices. It is high time to allow females to move around freely. They should be allowed to continue their education. They should be allowed to marry with a person of their choice. Women should be encouraged to work and have a career. Women’s opinions should be considered, listened to and respected. They should feel safe outside. There should be no one who should harass them just for being a woman.

They have a right to live. They have a right to talk and have opinions. Their spirits should be uplifted. If you have women in your lives, respect them. Everyday they are struggling to protect themselves; everyday they are trying their best to make the world a better place to live in. Let’s salute all the women in our lives.

Conclusion

Feminism, Women rights, Equality

Women and Men both need to support the stance of feminism. It is the only way through which we can attain gender equality. This can certainly make the world a better place for all! We all must bring awareness to our surroundings. We should make the effort to bring a solid end to all kinds of gender-based prejudices and violence. Education and healthcare should be equally provided to all. Let’s join hands to remove the misunderstood concepts behind feminism!