Feminism is about encouraging women to utilize their talents for the development of society. It has nothing to do with hatred, vengeance, and domination over others. The word ‘feminism’, which was initially brought up to advocate for women’s rights on the ground of the equality of sexes, has now got debilitated and lost its true intense meaning. Feminism was the ideology that demanded equal rights as well as equal responsibilities for women. But, as things are turning out, it has become “to take fewer risks and get more rights”.
The concept of feminism, to provide equal rights and to empower girls and women, started in the 19th century. Different kinds of movements and campaigns encouraging women to stand on firm ground as someone not just strong and brave but also as someone who could lead and inspire others not just by being a good mother, wife, and a daughter but as a global citizen and as a child of the world. The history of feminism has experienced four waves till now. The first wave basically demanded women’s empowerment by providing them with equal rights and responsibilities, as men get in political, cultural, and economic fields. The first wave of feminism focused on women’s rights on property and opposed the husband’s ownership of their wives. Women were successful to get voting rights at the end of the 19th century.
So, what feminism exactly is?
“I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a
feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat.”
― Rebecca West
Cicely Isabel Fairfield, known by her pen name Rebecca West, or Dame Rebecca West, DBE was an English author, journalist, literary critic, and travel writer. A prolific, protean author who wrote in many genres, West was committed to feminist and liberal principles and was one of the foremost public intellectuals of the twentieth century.
The second wave of feminism started in the 1960s and lasted till the 1980s. Feminism then focused on burning issues of discrimination between two genders and the need for equality for the establishment of a progressive society. This era opposed the belief that women were supposed to look after their children, serve their families and prioritize family more than their individual self. This wave opposed the concept and mindset where women, as hot boiling water, found their identities in the reflection of their families and enjoyed their pureness even if it was taking them to lose their true self.
The third wave of feminism started in the 1990s. This ideology argued against the definition of feminism established by the second wave. The third wave focused on the matter that a women’s race, religion, ethnicity, and nationality are significant factors that define feminism. Third-wave feminists sought to question ideas and media that have transmitted ideas about womanhood, gender, beauty, sexuality, femininity, and masculinity.
The fourth wave of the feminism movement began around 2012. Here, the ideology seeks greater gender equality or greater gender rights and the focus is on marginalized groups of women. The fourth-wave feminism seems to be a bit path-driven as it has left impressions which basically makes people think that feminists are male haters who are trying to take over the world by creating a “female-dominated society”. The feminist movement just looks like a group of women seeking attention and not empowerment. The key goal to empower women and create an ideal society where all genders live peacefully respecting each other seems to be a lost dream now.
Somewhere between earning women the right to vote, opening up universities to female students, and advancing the civil rights movement, feminism has indeed made life easier and happier not just for women, but for men as well.
People started getting serious about gender discrimination; they started educating their daughters and gave women a chance to get involved in tasks which was not a mere household chore. It encouraged men to rethink outdated masculinity standards and helped men to gain rights to be a teacher and a nurse. But, feminism today has become an ideology opposing male chauvinism which far enough doesn’t seem to be related to empowerment. Feminists talk about equality, they talk about equal rights and responsibilities but when it comes to fulfilling duties, they blame males for not doing what they think “men” are supposed to do. They sound like a group of “men exploiting ladies” going against the rights of males. Their objective pretty much seems to be going against men’s rights and not providing opportunities to women.
It’s all because feminism is no more an ideology seeking equality for women. It has now turned into a method where movements catch attention and make you famous and gives you think that you will never get following a normal, real feminist life. People believe that in feminism what started as a genuine fight for female rights, has turned into the lust of power when the involved women saw things they could get by doing nothing. Women get reserved rights by law. Still the feminists today ask for more. A human’s desire can never get satisfied. The initial and original goal to achieve a society that focuses on equality got mislaid the moment women started getting special rights because the focus has always been on equality and empowerment of women.
Article Credit: Aarya Risal
Aarya is currently pursuing her higher education at Adarsha Vidhya Mandir (AVM) in grade XII. The author has a keen interest in writing about contemporary issues, and she is good at expressing her writing to convey a good message to the viewers.