There has always been a sense of controversy around the feminist movement. Because, when revolutions happen, there are many questions that arise of fear, ambiguity, and lack of awareness. And, so is the movement of feminism. The movement has become such a difficult concept. As people still refuse to understand why and how equality is still not a regular thing for millions of women out there. The Indian subcontinent in this scenario is no different. But, yes, we have of course come a long way and we have women using their liberty at places, but the sad part is, not all women. This liberty of choice is as unequally distributed as the degrees of privileges in the country.
But, to start off, do we really define feminism yet again? Like for the millionth time?
Feminism, in simple terms, means that men and women have the same opportunities and accessibility to live their life as per their choice. It is not an alien concept that exists as too difficult to comprehend. Feminism is a very liberating idea asking for equality between men and women. Between rights and entitlements, and equality in gender roles within the walls and outside the walls.
The Bright Angle
There are varied justifications of misinterpretation of the feminism concept and these require serious change. However, there remains the bright side that depicts the right form of this aspect. By following global feminism, an era of feminism prevailed. Indian women received great success in feminism by obtaining access to proper education and other fundamental rights. From decreasing women to keep quiet to Medha Patkar and Madhu Keshwar to advocate for the rights of women in the post-independence era, it started the demonstration of a modification in the society. We can see many women in the defense and other civil services working with dignity without any criticisms. We can see many writers and creators exhibiting their talents without fear and humiliation. A lot of the society conspires to change for equal rights.
Just like stated above, it just wishes to break the societal shackles of judging women according to what they wear, how they look, and what profession they choose. However, sadly, with every opportunity that comes, there are people who jump the gun and judge the entire movement and discredit its footing. People are always ready to disregard, what feminism stands for. This clearly shows the inherent and institutionalized patriarchy in our society. Over the course of the past year, we have had multiple instances where, the entire women section was put down, for the mistakes of a single woman. People who trend #notallmen, were quick to comment, how every woman and especially feminists were the reason for unfortunate and unethical events that followed.
The Controversial Choice of Neha Dhupia
Back in 2020, actress Neha Dhupia was trolled heavily on social media for telling a man in a famous reality show she judged that, if his girlfriend chose to cheat, it is her choice. However, later she clarifies that her statement condemned the action of a participant slapping a girl who cheated on him with five other boys. She announced that it was comprehensive advice not to use any physical abuse irrespective of any gender.
However, it is agreed that cheating and infidelity are unacceptable irrespective of gender, which she agreed on later. But people on the internet did not miss the chance to discredit women’s rights saying that women expect to get a clean chit for their crimes, just because they are women. People were ready to bring in analogies of how women file false cases and get away with it. But the sad reality is, the real cases too, do not get justice. Because of the broken system.
The Zomato Case
A few months ago, public heating on social media took place when a girl came up with a video against a Zomato delivery guy, Kamraj. She accused the man of hitting her as they got into an argument in an alleged delayed delivery of the order. The delivery boy was condemned and the girl gained clout. Later on, after investigation, it was revealed that the woman hit herself on the nose and blamed the guy. This is a simple case of conning. A social power issue, where the man was not as powerful as the woman.
However, she was called out. Many other women rights activists were shamed for giving rise to such crimes against humble people. This issue was blown as an issue of feminism. Because ain’t it the easy way to sideline the class issues in our society? Feminism became another soft target to people who think feminism has done more harm than good.
A few days ago, hashtags on the arrest of a Lucknow girl were trending all over social media. A girl got into a rift, and beat a driver, while she was crossing the road in mid traffic. This enraged major sections of society, as the girl physically harassed the man, who could not even defend himself. This also led to a lot of comparisons of what feminism stands for and what it does not. That too by people who did not hold any stakes in the issue faced by women in everyday life.
This incident also coincided with the Tokyo Olympics. Also, leading to people on the internet moral policing and teaching on how feminism should be for women.
All these incidents have two things in common. Yes, the women were at fault in these scenarios and their actions are not justified in any manner. But, once such things come to light, women’s rights are shamed. Feminism is the center of many jokes, again. This also shows the deep-rooted problems of how we as a community do generalize every woman and spew hatred when one person makes a mistake. How can we be so fragile and myopic that we are ready to discredit an age-old revolution against discrimination? With incidents, if the gender is replaced of the accused, will stand no footing? Maybe, it is time we rethink our ideology of women’s rights!
The article was originally in the September Edition of the WMH India magazine.