Feminism: ˈfɛmɪnɪz(ə)m/ – noun. The advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes.
Feminism is a cause that the world needs very much right now. It is a noble cause which fights to allow all women equal rights as men, such as the right to education and equal pay, a fight against female feticide, and against sexism on the whole. It is natural that in some unevolved societies of the world, feminism would be seen as an unacceptable threat. However, in the modern societies, filled with educated people who have access to the World Wide Web, it is difficult to imagine how such a noble cause can be shunned, yet somehow, it is. Why? Because feminism has been trivialized and misunderstood.
Because feminism is misunderstood. Thousands have joined the ‘menimists’ who mock feminism, and ‘anti-feminists’ (including women) who are pulling the “I don’t need feminism” campaign forward. Some of the statements made by such women are on the lines of “I don’t need feminism because the men in my life care about and RESPECT me! (Yeah… they do exist!) men ≠ pigs.” Other claims include “because I am not a man-hater”, “Do I look oppressed?” and “I am not a victim.” It is sad what our modern day women think feminism means. Feminism in no way is about being a man-hater, nor about being superior to men. It is about being equal to your male counterparts. You might not feel the world needs feminism because you chose to be a stay-at-home mom, who chooses to cook for her husband. But that’s the key, choice. The society you live in may have evolved to a point where you are comfortable making choices, however, the rest of the world hasn’t.
Because feminism has been trivialized. It has been trivialized by the media and by the brands which have decided to take a ride on the hot-topic of feminism, only to gain popularity for themselves. The entire movement has been trivialized by countless beauty product companies, whose aim is to remove every trace of dandruff, freckle, wrinkle, oil, dark circles, dark skin, skin patches, etc., yet they tell you that you the ‘real you’ is beautiful (yes, we’re talking about the Dove campaign). It has been trivialized by sheer ‘dumb’ women empowerment ads which use celebrities to make claims such as ‘extra marital affairs are okay.’ Feminism is also trivialized by the fact that social media mostly refers to women empowerment as being comfortable with your body, with your curves, with the way you look and being able to dress however you want. It is ironic that the majority of women empowerment on the internet goes only as far as our bodies and looks, when there are much graver issues.
The problem with the media showing us women empowerment as a fight against body shaming, unrealistic beauty standards, sexism and stereotyping of genders, is that these are issues that exist for both sexes. It seems that somewhere the lines between these issues and feminism have been blurred and merged by the media. This makes many men question why nobody is encouraging men to be comfortable in their own bodies, without their six-packs? Why no one objects to the bulky, photo shopped men with six-packs in their undies displayed on magazine covers? We agree that men are also victims of gender stereotyping. Not only should we be fighting against the unrealistic beauty standards and objectification of women, but against these issues in general. Sexism and gender stereotyping is definitely and one that needs to be addressed, and so is feminism.
We still use the word feminism because women oppression is an issue that goes far back into history, where women had little to no rights. Even today, there are many cultures, societies and countries where women are oppressed. To say that you don’t need feminism because you already get to choose between a job or staying at home, and get to choose whether or not you want you want to marry and have kids, is an insult to those women who have fought in the past. It is an insult to those women because of whom you have these freedoms.