Feminism which literally means ‘the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes' is a term with which all of us are very familiar. But this familiarity and interpretation of feminism has become quite subjective over the years with every second person preaching their own kind of feminism, some of which are right and some not so much and then there are people who are completely against it for they consider it to be an anti-men movement. All of these different opinions and ideologies have given rise to the debates around feminism, what it actually is and for who is it?
Tracing the history of feminism we get to know that it was started as a movement against the discrimination and injustice that women faced due to gender bias which arose from the belief that women are inferior to men. Started with the basic ideology of equality between sexes which could happen only with the empowerment of women, the present day feminism has evolved and broadened itself to not just advocate equality but also delve into the whys and hows of the stereotypes and constructs of the society that have for so long created and spreaded this gender gap. Feminism calls out all the societal norms which have worked in the way of strengthening gender based discrimination such as patriarchy, fixed gender roles, stereotypical images of a woman being dainty, meek and a man being strong both in the physical and emotional sense. This aspect of feminism, makes it a revolution for anyone and everyone out there.
Patriarchy and rigid gender roles are as harmful and toxic to men as they are to women. The age old belief that men will always work outside their homes, being the bread earners of the family and women being meant to stay at home and do the household chores and take care of their families is one of the most common and still prevalent example of patriarchy. When we assign specific roles to men and women, it restricts them to a certain work, thus creating the image of a man who is detached and doesn’t show his emotions even towards his family and of a women who is incapable of handling anything outside her house putting a question mark on her intelligence as well as her abilities. When we infuse this thought in the minds of young boys that they shouldn’t cry for they are strong, it leads to a certain conditioning where crying or showing one’s emotions then becomes synonymous to being weak. Men are expected to always and always be strong, this leads to them suppressing their feelings and in the longer run making them quite insensitive to the surroundings. Feminism tries to banish this stereotypical image of men and celebrates and accepts the imperfections and vulnerabilities that they possess. Feminism acts as a mode of liberation from all these norms. It promotes self-identity both of men and women, the identity which is not influenced or moulded to fit the guidelines of the society but which is a representation of a person’s actual self, what he or she is and wants to be. When men choose to stay at home or pick up unconventional professions such as that of cooking, painting, writing etc which are supposedly done by women and women only, they are often frowned upon. Occupations like engineering, doctor, architects seem like the more suitable jobs for men as per the beliefs of the society but feminism tries to banish all of these notions. It gives the strength and the freedom to ignore and shut down the voices of the people who constantly tell us what to do and what not and instead helps us to listen and embrace our inner voice. Feminism accepts the fact that men can get raped too, men can be assaulted and harassed too and all these events are as tragic and devastating for men as they are for women. Men can cry, laugh, love and feel vulnerable and women can be strong, intelligent and witty and feminism knows and supports this.
Equality is a necessity doesn’t matter whom we are talking about, for any kind of discrimination leads to injustice and no one deserves to be suppressed with the reasoning of one being superior and the other being inferior. Feminism promotes this equality where men and women, queer and LGBT all are at the same level. Feminism is for all and will always be for all.