The idea of feminism is of women’s liberation, equality, and rights on the ground of equality of the sexes. Feminism also entails women supporting each other. Feminism is the valuing of individuals for their contributions to society rather than their biological or sexual characteristics or roles. The origin of feminism can be traced to the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848 when three hundred men and women rallied to the cause of equality for women. Feminism has pointed out social evils such as misogyny, oppression and exploitation of women, dowry, domestic and sexual violence, etc. Feminism advocates the same rights to education, healthcare, clean water, sanitation, livelihood and protection for both men and women. It argues that women are denied these rights simply because of their gender.
Feminism is not about hating men, it is about breaking the cycle of gender stereotypes and social structures of patriarchy. Misogyny exists and so does misandry. A woman can potentially be as evil and cruel as a man. Men are often pictured as strong and women as sensitive, but there are men very much sensitive and women very much strong. Feminism seeks to break gender stereotypes and point out that a harmonious and stable society involves men and women working together, caring for each other, and not pulling each other down. Being a feminist doesn’t mean that every man is blamed for hundreds of years of oppressive patriarchy. Women are not seeking vengeance but dignity and respect.
As civilised people, we should appreciate each other’s presence and realize that having certain traits doesn’t make us feminine or masculine. There is a need to emphasise equality of choices for both sexes. Let’s hope that the lessons of feminism can be learnt, in time, by men as well.
The writer is a student at Central University of Kashmir