• Understanding feminism- do cultural labels disrupt society?

    Ekta Kamble

    Feminism has been such an over exploited word these days that people completely forget what it actually stands for, yes it is time to address the issue once and for all. It is absolutely vital to understand the history of feminism that allows every woman today to express an opinion. The gender movement has really been one for equal rights for women and not the expressed effort towards making enemies of men.

    History witnessed 3 waves of feminism.


    There will obviously be so called “pro feminists” who do not have an idea what it stands for themselves. They would always be ready to believe that it is about superiority of women over men. The idea of feminism is completely confused and misinterpreted. It is not that simple to use such a strong word that reflects strength and historical significance to be used so lightly. It has become important to clear the air once and for all about the beginning of feminism movement. How history witnessed 3 waves of feminism.

    The western feminism is divided into three waves of feminism. The first wave started in the 19th and early 20th century for legal and political inequalities that led to the suffrage movement in particular. The second wave feminism started in 1960s-1980s for the deeply rooted cultural disparities, gender and cultural norms related to the role of women in the society. The third wave of feminism was started in 1990s against gender expectations, norms and stereotypes. There was focus on queer theory and non white women. The feminist movement in India started to defend the social, political, economic and cultural rights of women in India. The patriarchal Indian society had rampant social evils like Sati, child marriage, female infanticide, dowry, devdasi and many more problems of discrimination. The situation of women in rural India is negligible as they still face social inequality and discrimination. Whoever thinks urban India is completely safe and the world has changed now, we no more need feminism are completely wrong. Feminism demands equality for women and the word does not mean superiority over men; that is obviously not equality! Equality is the choice to live a life without the fear of being judged because of the gender. Unfortunately the fact that there are heinous crimes committed against women, eve teasing that is considered normal in daily life, unfair pay for women compared to men and cultural gender stereotypes; yet women are asked to calm down says a lot about the grave situation we are facing!

    Stereotypes and cultural labels are disturbing; they harm the social construction that is the foundation of a society. 

    Feminism Gif

    There is an interesting quote of John Whedon on why we need feminism; “Because you are still asking me that question”. There are obvious disparities even in the developed countries like America where women are not paid equally for the same work as men, they are looked down upon if they chose to not get married or do not act “lady like”. The words like lady like coy, submissive, fragile and many more still form part of cultural dictionary. These words reflect a mindset that is damaging to an individual’s basic right to be what they want to be. Actor Joseph Gordon Levitt who is a feminist said, “I am a believer that if everyone has a fair chance to be what they want to be and do what they want to do, it is better for everyone. It benefits society as a whole.” Stereotypes and cultural labels are disturbing; they harm the social construction that is the foundation of a society. There is a great amount of responsibility and gratitude for the voice that women have because of the sacrifices made by social reformists and workers.