Women's movements have sprung up in different parts of the world over the time. Their ideologies have changed with the needs and demands of the hour. Today, feminism has become diverse. It is not just a movement for the right to vote or the right to drive but also accepts easily the myriad of needs of women in different parts of the world.
"Feminism" as a term came to demand equal treatment of women, at par with men. Today, feminists are often criticised for being women-centric and male bashers and blamed for over-glorifying and unnecessarily exaggerating their situation. Some supporters of feminism have been said to evolve into feminazis, referring to them as radical extremists who seek superiority and not equality.
This portrayal has two aspects. Firstly, it is an unfortunate representation because it paints people, mostly women, in a picture that has roots in stereotypes arising from a patriarchal viewpoint – constantly whining, super aggressive about things they do not know about, stubborn and dimwitted. Another aspect to consider is whether superiority of one gender over the other is a correct way to address the problem that is patriarchy.
Patriarchy is what I call a 'problem' because patriarchy has always put women to a disadvantaged position. It has always dictated women how they should lead their lives by placing a value on their chastity, obedience, submission, and beauty. It also exerts a great deal of pressure on men who do not adhere to the guidelines and criteria considered standard and normal. Something that disadvantages people and deprives them of their bodily and mental freedom cannot be anything but a problem. Any society should aim for the coexistence of different kinds of people. Now this calls for another discourse on whether people who believe in and perform their actions around proving the superiority of any sex should be tolerated.
While it is true that extremist feminists root for an all women aggregation, it is equally important to understand that different people lie on different points in the spectrum. In fact, the entire concept of feminism translates differently to different people, with a major focus on what the topmost priority on their agenda is. A lot of people also stress the importance of equality and a need for an egalitarian society. However, the anti-male propaganda also promotes and encourages a point that lies on the far end of the spectrum; a point one should be careful to be on.
Nevertheless, when people claim that they are not feminists that automatically translates to them as not wanting equal rights for women. It is true that patriarchy runs deep through our veins. Women, even today, are treated differently than men are – by both men and women. It is also not uncommon to come across people who believe by every cell in their bodies that women are inferior to men in ways more than only biology. To fight this attitude, feminism is of the utmost need, the kind of feminism that demands equal rights and representation and at the same time giving a choice and freedom to the women.
Not all women can be heroes, not all of them have to be a role model. We cannot always frame a picture of the ideal woman and have everybody live up to that image. There are dysfunctional women, there are also women who are criminals, and some of them physically abuse their partners. But there are many women capable of taking decisions, accountable and independent. We cannot make people choose what they want according to what we think is correct. Women empowerment lies in giving women the ability to choose and to be able to do that well, one has to let others think freely. To get to that level of freedom of thought, a lot of gender-role deconstruction and demolishment has to take place. This can only come about when we start to respect each other as individuals and not by their gender. A truly egalitarian society will stop being astonished at women astronauts and scientists and male nurses. Till then, the fight for equality will go on.