Feminism: An aberrated preview

January 24, 2019 Opinion , OPINION/NEWS




Thriveni C Mysore



The term “feminism” originated from the French word féminisme, first used in 1837 by the French philosopher Charles Fourier. It is to be noted that Fourier, who wanted to improve the status of women in society did not advocate equality between the sexes. The first English definition of “feminism” appeared in the Oxford English Dictionary in 1895: “advocacy of the rights of women (based on the theory of equality of the sexes).”


As the waves of the Women’s Liberation Movement advanced, feminism began to assume the meaning with which it is associated in present-day American society: “the theory of political, economic, and social equality of the sexes,” according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.


The word ‘feminism’ owes its origin to a Latin word ‘femina’ which means ‘woman’. The term ‘feminist’ was also used in 1871 in the French medical text to describe a cessation in development of the sexual organs and characteristics in male patients, who were perceived as suffering from ‘feminization’ of their bodies. The term was then picked up by Alexandre Dumas Fils, a French writer, who used it in pamphlet published in 1872 entitled l’homme-femme, to describe women behaving in supposedly masculine way. Feminism rests mainly on the belief that women are unjustly treated.


All movements that work to obtain women’s rights are to be considered feminist movements. It recognizes the inadequacy of male-created ideologies and struggles for the spiritual, economic, social and racial equality of women. In the created chaos, it swiftly turned to anti-masculinist movement, asserting individual rights; it is also called Aphraism after Aphra Behn of 17th C feminist and political activist. It became a protest to male domination and the marginalization of women.


All through the world, this Feminist movement gained momentum and took to gigantic proportions no doubt, but the failure in understanding the geographical and cultural niceties, made the crusaders of the movement to gather no moss. Feminist movement was and is still a rolling stone.


Atrocity on women is a universal fact that is continuing not from decades, but from centuries to this very day. But this cannot be a sure statement. It does not mean that all women are subjects of atrocities, and also, it does not mean that all men heap atrocities on women. Perhaps, Feminism itself is an overused, mistaken and abused word!


Feminist Sarah Grimke observes in her Letters on the equality of the sexes, “Man has subjugated woman to his will, used her as a means to promote his selfish gratification, to minister to his sensual pleasure, to be instrumental in promoting his comfort, but never has he desired to elevate her to that rank she was created to fill. He has done all he could do to debase and enslave her mind”. This clearly is one face of the coin, a highlighted text triggering the –ism of the otherwise biased ideological activity. Wars have been fought for a woman; wars have been fought to protect women; wars have been fought through hurting the women; wars have been fought for no reason at all in the history of mankind. Just like in the animal world it is for food, territory and Female attention with capital letter F! For one rotten apple you can’t through away the barrel. So is the case in human society. The dangerous playful attitude of female and the havoc therein are never mentioned in any feminist perspectives, Why is it so?


Awareness about the double standards created in the society was created through these waves of Feminist movements. It addressed to the need of female education rights, better working conditions, social equality, political equality, religious and cultural equality, race related subjectivities. Somewhere down the road of Feminist movements, these goals got mixed up and the crusaders couldn’t pinpoint what they were striving to achieve. Elizabeth Cady Stanton observed regarding assumptions of female inferiority, “The worst feature of these assumptions is that women themselves believe them”. Take away the men from the planet, where will the women be? Take away the women from the planet, where will the men be?


It is not anti-feminist to look at both sides of a story. Let us work towards a responsible human society that is humane in all aspects. Let the man made laws of the land be fool proof, let it ensure education, living conditions, rights along with punishments equal. When one stands for equality in rights, one cannot claim any respite on the basis of being a female. One of the accused in a rape case in India said that he enjoyed the media attention. Isn’t this glorification of crime?


There is a solution for this, it is The Law. Law of the land should be so strict in dealing with cases of atrocities that it should send down a shudder in the spines of men. It should be equally strict in dealing with women who use gender-card to bring down men. This is not happening at present. Law has become just a façade, a commodity that can be bought. It is unfortunate that all things under the Sun can be ‘Bought’ nowadays.


If political pressure can play a role in handing down judgments, even if it is for one single case, it sets a bad example to the society. Treat the crime as a crime and hand down the punishment without lenience.


There are myriad flaws in human society. Prostitution, human trafficking, deviances, abortions, feticides, child ditching, porn, what not and what all! Can Feminists blame this all on man?


In India, the Feminist movement was initiated by men. The efforts of these men included abolishing sati, the custom of child marriage, abolishing the disfiguring of widows, banning the marriage of upper caste Hindu widows, promoting women’s education, obtaining legal rights for women to own property and requiring the law to acknowledge women’s status by granting them basic rights in matters such as adoption and divorce. It was the Mahatma, who came up with the term Stree Shakti for the concept of womanhood and legitimized, expanded and initiated women into the non-violent civil disobedience movement against the British. This is cultural, geographical and political necessity of India.


These very lines do not apply to Israel or South Africa. Hence cultural issues along with geographical and political factors are a necessity to set forth the Feminist movement. One cannot say it is male dominance if an Eskimo woman is made to stay indoors to take care of the child and carry on household chores – it is geographical necessity. One cannot say it is oppression if a religious woman wears a head scarf – it is a cultural or religious necessity.


Let us salute the men who do the hardcore work in mines, fields and the like, with the same delicate hand that points at their wrong doings. Squabbling for the ‘Who is better’ should be put to rest and there should be strife towards betterment of the human species itself. Otherwise, it will be like answering which eye aids the vision, which nostril aids the breathing?


The human being is the only unfortunate animal which (not who) is going against Mother Nature in all aspects. If maggots feed on the dead, man is feeding on the very life-giving Nature; such is the rate of destruction caused by our actions. Let us change that.


Let us re-define and refine Feminism. Let us have a pro-human, pro-Nature, Feminist movement.





Thriveni C Mysore

Thriveni C Mysore is a science teacher from Karnataka, India. She is locally acknowledged for her writings on Philosophy and Education in regional language. She loves naturewriting and ecopoetry.

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