~ B. Sujitha
Feminism is an ideology that believes in the equality of sexes. Equality of a comprehensive type i.e., social, political and economic. The term Feminism is a twentieth-century invention. But since its adoption, the word and ideology have become part of everyday language. Feminism is also linked to women’s movements. A Feminist is a person ( includes both male and female) who subscribes to feminism i.e., belief in the equality of sexes.
The ideology of Feminism is characterised by two core beliefs. One, women are discriminated against and disadvantaged; two, this discrimination and disadvantage should be ended. Feminism is a fight against Patriarchy. Patriarchy professes the subordination of women in all spheres.
Different strands within feminism:
Feminism is characterised by a diversity of views. It includes different political positions. There is a lot of diversity within Feminism. As ideology feminism encompasses different strands. Some of them are:
- Liberal feminism:
Deeply influenced by the ideas and values of liberalism. Liberal Feminism believed that women should enjoy the same rights and liberties as men do. Liberal feminists believed that equality could be achieved by giving women equal political rights. Especially the right to vote.
- Socialist Feminism:
Socialist feminists believe that discrimination against women is rooted in the social and economic structure. Simple political rights cannot uproot the inequality. A profound social change is required. Only social revolution can give a woman true emancipation.
- Radical Feminism:
The Central feature of Radical Feminism is that it traces the origin of discrimination to the practice of patriarchy. Gender distinctions are politically significant. Radical Feminists have insisted on understanding society from a patriarchal lens. This will reveal the level of oppression.
- Third wave feminism and beyond:
The emergence of new issues, political and social transformations have given rise to new forms of feminism. New kinds of feminism mean the women movements which make different and distinct demands. This wave includes Postmodern_feminism, Black_feminism, Dalit_feminism, etc.
Why has feminism been misunderstood:
A 2018 YouGov poll found that only 34% of women in the UK said ‘yes when they were asked if they were a feminist. It is only 8% of respondents in Germany. In Sweden, it is 40%. European Countries have better penetration of Feminism Ideology. Even there the association with feminism is not even 50%. In Asian countries, it might be far lower. This situation resulted from:
- Distorted understanding of feminism:
Feminism generally is equated with the images of angry women, man-hating females. These are not completely untrue. But Feminism does not speak of man-hating. It professes equality. Feminism is a struggle against Patriarchy. Patriarchy has affected both men and women equally. It discriminated against men by defining their roles and shaming those who didn’t comply with them. So, Feminism is a fight for equality.
- Internalisation of patriarchy:
Patriarchy has become so deeply rooted. Attempts to overthrow it are met with challenges. The muddling of the feminist movement by ardent status Quoits is a strong reason. This includes propaganda against feminism. Women are pitted against each other. They are divided into feminists and non-feminists.
Feminism: more inclusive than not
Emma Watson, who recently became the UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, has given a 12-minute speech touching on Feminism. “How can we expect a change in the world when only half of it is invited or feels welcomed to participate in the conversation?”She asked. She also launched a campaign called “HeforShe”. This campaign aims to secure the participation and inclusion of both boys and girls in the fight against inequality.
Feminism always has a global orientation. It is fuelled by the desire to cultivate sisterhood. The growth of women’s groups worldwide is a stupendous example. Thus, feminist ideas are universally applicable unbiased.