Is Feminism an Oppressive Ideology?
Feminism cannot be given a definition because it means different things in different countries and it changes from situation to situation. Moreover, feminism is a discourse and discourses don’t have fixed definitions.
Yet, generally, feminism demands equal rights for women on a social, economic and political level. “Equal” rights for “Women”? Women aren’t the only people in the world who are unequal. Men, poverty stricken, disabled, gays, transgenders, bisexuals and nearly everyone is treated as unequal. I mean why don’t we just say equal rights for all? Isn’t the movement for equality itself unequal?
Coming back to the movement, the movement has many forms. There is radical feminism, eco-feminism, post-modern feminism, liberal feminism, social feminism and cultural feminism. Each has its own type of belief system. If one believes in stringent equality, the other believes in recognising the differences, yet another draws a parallel of woman’s oppression to Mother Earth’s oppression. Yes, feminism is weird, complicated and intellectual if you take a close look at it and go beyond the surface.
As it might be obvious, traditionalists are directly opposed to feminists. They believe in the old methods of the woman must stick to her role and the man must stick to his. They believe in chastising the woman and that man has the power. Stuff like no sex before marriage, cover your body, save your reputation (izzat) and marriage at the cost of your life etc. is a favourite of the traditionalists. You get the idea, right?
Now, the society is full of traditionalists as well as feminists who keep clashing all the time. Both, the traditionalists and the feminists suffer at the hands of each other. Both call out to the other on their wrongdoings and keep pushing their opinions on each other.
For, the traditionalists are fixed with their idea of what is right and the feminists are fixed with theirs. Both are unwilling to let go off their opinions resulting into verbal wars and sometimes, weaponry.
So, how is it that the situation ought to be handled? Can the two let go off each other and live their own lives? Can we respect the other person’s decision to work or to sit at home? For all you know, the husband would prefer sitting at home rather than going to work? Can you respect his decision and go to work instead? What if both of you don’t want to go to work? Can you find a consensus? Also, you don’t have to be absolutely selfish when making choices, especially when a lot depends on your choice. Suppose the house runs on two salaries and you suddenly decide to quit your job, can you cut down on expenses? You will obviously talk it through with your partner, right?
However, society has a huge role to play in the creation of misbalance. There are unnecessary dress codes everywhere, unnecessary rules, unnecessary restrictions that cause the dilemma. Wear only western formals or no short dresses allowed etc. are rules that annoy a person to the very core.
In India, the Government is the shittiest when it comes to equality. I won’t even touch upon the kind of shit and moral policing the Government indulges in, in the name of culture.
Yet, there are traditional women in the village who are uneducated, their husbands drink and don’t work, beat them up every day and the house and the children are in a state. The Government is busy talking some crap about urban women watching porn rather than looking into the state of these women in the village. Of course, these women wouldn’t suffer if they were educated and aware but then.....
True, society is slowly changing, mindsets are changing. People are beginning to accept live-in relationships, marriage is no longer a priority, women are indeed given equal status and there is a lot going on in that “society is changing” category. It is undoubtedly causing chaos.
Chaos because there are those who are orthodox and stubborn and then there are others willing to change. The post modern thinks the orthodox is wrong and the orthodox thinks the post modern is wrong. They both fight like cats. Hopefully, the two will come to their senses and stop the fight one of these days.
I was told to behave like a girl as a child because apparently, I fit more into the stereotype of a boy. I was yelled at when I said I don’t want to marry. I still get yelled at when I say I want to move out. The waiter gives me looks when I pay and thinks that the guy next to me is flicking me off. Some people think women are directly responsible for the sad plight of children. I know a woman who earns enough money for a family but has a jobless husband. She beats her husband up and often, throws him out of the house, asks him for money because he is the man of the house. Both men and women are raped and both go unreported often. Marital rape is a crime in my country. If a man promises marriage and has sex with a woman, the sex turns into rape if he doesn’t marry her. Yes, a law in my country explicitly says that. An ad says “So easy, even man can cook.” I could go on and on. I know girls who aren’t allowed to wear sleeveless dresses or talk to boys, I know boys who are 26 years old and still have to ask permission from parents to go out and I also know innumerable girls who got married to strangers. It is funny how everyone talks only about the girl getting married to the stranger. The boy also got married to the stranger. I really could go on and on.....
See? There is no closure, we are all going to fight all the time until we decide to let everyone live their own lives rather than shoving our opinions down each other’s throats. Live and let live, maybe?