None of us need an introduction to the on-going “Feminism” and the increasing no of protests everyday. Although we have come a long way regarding women’s rights, the ideas of women being completely equal to men just aren’t true. What is feminism?
Feminism is a collection of movements and ideologies aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights for women . . . The definition of feminism is the struggle for gender equality. As such, we consider it necessary to acknowledge the existence, and the legitimacy, of men’s issues, and the need for a movement and a dedicated discussion space to address such issues.
Feminists aren’t a bunch of angry women who want to be like men, or one who want to rule the world and believe that men aren’t necessary. As a human being, male or female, if you believe in the idea of equal rights for everyone, that’s all you need to align with feminist theories. The ideology behind feminism is just that “gender” is not a defining quality behind who you are, and what you should be. This is no modern idea, feminism exists since 1800s. In India, the very first feminist movements were initiated by men, to abolish sati (widow’s death by burning on her husband’s funeral pyre), child marriage, introducing re-marriage for widows, promoting women education etc. Since then, there were a lot of changes in the system. Currently, women have more social, political and economic rights than ever before. But, how many of us agree that there is no sexism, sexual exploitation and female oppression. Everyday I open a news channel, half of what I see is about sexual assaults. All of us can relate to these incidents happening around us.
Sexual victimization of women is well over 60% – 1 in 2 women will experience sexual violence victimization other than rape (The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey | 2010 Summary Report). Part of this is because of how women are viewed. Women are more than bodies – the constant sexualization and objectification of women is unacceptable. Young men hearing the message “No means Yes” is horribly damaging. Feminism aims to address these issues for women and through feminist education and theory, less women will be sexually assaulted. The objectification and sexualization of the female body will be less prevalent as the world learns that women are far more than bodies. Women won’t be accused of “asking for it,” or “being emotional.” They will be heard when they step forward.
However, feminism is not just for women. Feminism is for everybody.
Feminism taking root is also valuable for men who experience sexual assault. It is not uncommon for men to be particularly reticent with personal feelings or experiences. Sexual assault is not something that is easy for anyone to speak about. But I empathize with men who have to face additional stigmas dictated by a more patriarchal society when broaching this subject.
Ideas in our society prevent male survivors from speaking out about sexual assault. Because of how men are socialized and expected to behave in our society, a male survivor of sexual assault may feel as if he is not a “real man.” Because men are often expected to always be ready for sex and to be the aggressors in sexual relationships, it may be difficult for a man to tell people that he has been sexually assaulted . . . this stigma may negatively impact a male survivor’s social experiences, and it may also lead male survivors to avoid disclosure (http://sapac.umich.edu/article/53)
Why are we stressing on women? “India’s Daughter”, still remember this title? The banned documentary made by BBC about a victim, who was gang-raped in bus and beaten to death. I still remember how the comments made during the documentary triggered the woman organizations internationally.
- “A decent girl won’t roam around at nine o’clock at night. A girl is far more responsible for rape than a boy.” said one of the accused.
- “In our society, we never allow our girls to come out from the house after 6:30 or 7:30 or 8:30 in the evening with any unknown person,” said one of the lawyers, ML Sharma.
- “You are talking about man and woman as friends. Sorry, that doesn’t have any place in our society. We have the best culture. In our culture, there is no place for a woman.”, said other lawyer.
Judge’s decision in this case may help provide a sense of closure for the woman’s family and friends. Then what happened? Where do we stand now? More rapes and more murders. Did we get any better? NO. Are we planning to get better? I don’t know! The no of sexual assaults only keep increasing day by day.
These are few of the million cases out there. All we are asking for a real-democratic country, where woman is not treated as an animal, and given equal rights to survive and express herself. Here is a recent article discussing the abuse a woman faces day to day: Dark Truths of Sex behind closed doors in India.
Less schooling, low female literacy rate, fewer work opportunities, no freedom for choice of life, systemic discrimination, sexual assaults, female foeticide. In 21st century? Really?Changing this requires serious rethinking in the halls of government, in courts, schools and police stations. It also means change in Indian homes. All women should be open about discussing any kind of abuse or ill treatment. Hiding yourself means making yourself a victim.
“First, we have to change ourselves. Until we change the mindset in our homes, this will continue.”
The struggle to stop violence against women is far from over.
Like Mahatma Gandhi once said “the day a woman can walk freely on the roads, that day we can say that India achieved independence”.
I am thankful to all the leaders who worked for Women Empowerment. If not for them, I wouldn’t be here, at this stage, being who I am and doing what I am doing. I hope we get better at addressing our issues regarding “Equal rights”.
Women are more than just bodies. She can not just give birth to you, but do way more than that. Let’s empower each other. For a better society, for a better future.
Here is my other post discussing the transition a woman goes through: D/O to W/O