Modern Day Feminism
“Our generation is so busy trying to prove that women can do what men can do, that women are losing their uniqueness. Women weren’t created to do everything a man can do; women were created to do everything a man cannot do”. – Anonymous
The most beautiful and priceless creature that Almighty has ever created is a woman. A symbol of peace, love, struggle, sacrifice, strength and what not, she has an everlasting role in man’s life in every form – as a mother, a sister, a daughter, a wife or even a friend. Being a nation-builder, the world has seen her as a great scientist, doctor, engineer, teacher, poet, philosopher, etc throughout the history.
A woman though being a wonderful creature has faced great difficulties but despite all such odds, she has always emerged a winner. There is no denying of the fact that a woman has been suppressed in the past and continues to face suppression even today. A lot of women live a miserable life due to reasons such as patriarchy, dowry system, chauvinism, and sati etc. But with the advent of Islam, all these practices were brought to halt for the first time both theoretically and practically. Islam raised the status of a woman and gave her all the rights she was entitled to. Islam put an end to all these ruthless and brutal practices against women and gave them the right to live a dignified life. Thus, Islam came as a sigh of relief for women at the time when they were considered a burden and were either burnt or buried alive. It not only eradicated the concept of dowry, rather it imposed upon a man to give Mehr (a mandatory payment in the form of money or possessions) at the time of Nikah to ensure a woman’s security. Islam also gave a woman, the status of a queen and further elevated her status as a mother, stating that Paradise lies under her feet. It raised her status at a time when she was looked down upon by the society. It is Islam which places paradise under her feet when she is a mother; as a daughter, she opens up the doors of paradise for her parents; and she completes half of the Deen of her husband as a wife.
Now, many people believe that Islam suppresses women. Sigh! Who would tell them, Islam is rather the only religion that has given a woman liberty, along with respect and dignity. Islam has given the women the right to choose a spouse for them and has strictly forbidden forced marriages. This is one of the greatest liberties a woman can enjoy and this liberty has been granted by Islam 1400 years ago, at a time when women in all other societies and religions had no say in family matters or even in their personal lives.
Also, a lot of people argue that Hijab or face veil oppresses a woman and curtails her freedom. As a Muslim woman and an ardent practitioner of Hijab, I say, Islam has always made me feel liberated and safe and different from the crowd. I have never been as comfortable without a Hijab as I have been with my Hijab. It has always made me stand tall and completely different from the crowd that believes in nudity being a sign of modernization. A lot of people live with the pseudo-belief that Islam confines a woman to the four walls of her home. I wonder why a person without any historical evidence should lead himself into believing that Islam diminishes the role of a woman, which rather places her on the best pedestal and gives her utmost respect. Lest do these people know that Khadija bint Khuwaylid (R.A) – the first wife of the Prophet (PBUH) was actually a businesswoman herself. They are least aware of the fact that women in Islam have joined men on war-lands too and that Islam hasn’t asked her to stay within the four walls of her home but work(if she wishes) within the limits of Shariah, the Islamic rules and regulations. And I believe Islamic rules should be respected the way all other rules in the world are deemed to be respected.
The Evolution of Feminist Discourse
In the past, in West especially, women were denied almost every right to live with dignity. The only right they possibly had was the right to ‘breathe’. Their basic rights, such as the right to property, the right to vote, the right to work and above all, the right to live as a respectable citizen were all denied to her and there certainly was a need for a genuine voice to be raised against all this. Although, over the years, women successfully fought for equality and walked shoulder to shoulder with men, but in the pursuit of fighting for equality, women actually started demanding superiority rather than equality in modern times.
Feminism apart from an idea was supposed to be a beautiful feeling and realization of being a woman rather than a mere competing object to her male counterpart. A woman was supposed to be ‘different’ and ‘unique’ and not ‘like’ or ‘superior’ to a man. Feminism promoted the idea of equality but most of its proponents have limited this idea of equality to mere working shoulder to shoulder with men. Equality, however, stands for a broader and greater idea than this. Equality, apart from this ‘shoulder-to-shoulder argument’ means men standing up and supporting women and vice-versa. Equality also means to teach and support men in learning the art of sacrificing, the way women do. It means respecting each other’s values and encouraging one another for better things. Equality also means to help oneself grow without showing the other person down. Equality, in its true spirits, means to fight patriarchy, chauvinism and the ‘feminazism.’
But unfortunately, Feminism today has been limited to the idea of walking at par with men in every field and the first thing the word feminism brings to our mind is ‘Women Empowerment’. The present day concepts of Feminism and Women Empowerment, however, have more cons than pros. In the garb of Empowerment, what we see is that women who are already empowered, are given more power, while the downtrodden and weaker sections of women continue to be so because of the selective empowerment proposed by the idea of feminism. Although, if anyone among the women folk requires empowerment the most, it’s those women who are still weak and suppressed to the core, those who are looked down by society and are ill-treated and those who are unwillingly and forcibly made to do things they never wanted to do. It’s the women of Kunan-Poshpora in Kashmir who need not only be supported but championed for their resilience and the exemplary valor.
As already mentioned, feminism nowadays is about women doing what men can do. This is rude! The society, especially our feminists are actually putting a woman’s strengths and abilities to test. Is there even a comparison between the strength of both the sexes? Women are much more strong (though not physically) and courageous as compared to men. From carrying a baby for nine long months to going through painful labor, to giving birth, to working in and outside the home and taking care of her family, she is capable of doing everything a man has failed to do all his life. Shouldn’t it actually be men trying competing a woman and walking shoulder to shoulder with her? Alas, our own community of women have dragged down the status of a woman and disgraced her so much that all women now seem to have forgotten their true strengths and are now struggling to be at par with men who I repeat, are weaker than us: women. It’s a pity to believe that women are successful and liberated only if they can do what men can do. Women, as I said, have been blessed with strengths that a man doesn’t have. For instance, in modern times, the responsibility to raise a child is considered to be equally distributed among both the parents, but what we need to understand is that there are certain things apart from physical aspects that can only be looked after by a mother and it don’t make her inferior in any way. Rather, it’s only about how you look at your responsibilities and priorities. I am even more surprised by the level of hypocrisy adopted by certain women who claim to be champions of women rights. By this, I want to bring to the limelight, the fact that although women fight for their ‘equal’ rights, the same women bring down the level and equal rights of another woman when it comes to taking care of their household chores or their children.
Let’s all realise our own set of responsibilities and duties rather than getting into one another’s business and thereby spoiling things. There are numerous quotations from leading feminists and activists that are totally offensive and sexist. If the same quotations were modified a bit such that the word ‘man’ was replaced by ‘woman’, these sayings in question would be constructed as disastrously sexist and discriminatory. Yet when stated by these modern feminists, they become permissible and are cleverly regarded as only terms of development and empowerment.
There are people with feminist perspective who have reduced modern day feminism to just an ‘anti-male movement’. Quoting the likes of Andrea Dworkin who says, “Every woman’s son is her potential betrayer and also the inevitable rapist or exploiter of another woman”. Absurd! Right? Another feminist, Robin Morgan said,” I feel man-hating is an honourable and viable political act that the oppressive have a right to class hatred against the class that is oppressing them”. Too much generalization, isn’t it? “We can’t destroy the inequities between men and women until we destroy marriage”, said Robin Morgan. “You grow up with your father holding you down and covering your mouth, so that another man can make horrible searing pain between your legs”, Catherine Mackinnion. It must be noted that Catherine Mackinnion is a ‘legal feminist’ and is quite prominent and has worked at the University of Michigan.
This might give us a slight idea of what modern day feminism is all about.
Broadly speaking, feminism nowadays has been reduced to protecting the women and also defending their wrongs and showing men down. I find it strange and unjust that nobody raises a finger on a woman when she judges a man. However, all rise in fury if a man does the same. It can’t be denied that women have their set of problems too and are oppressed to a great extent too. I emphasize that a genuine voice in their support and against any bias or harm inflicted upon them must be raised. But what we see today, in the garb of such issues, many opportunistic women have started playing the victim card all the times. Feminism in modern times is promoting an idea of man v/s woman. Most of the feminists today will leave no chance to discriminate and criticise men for almost everything. I fear a day will come when men will officially be symbolised as ‘Devils’ by these self-proclaimed feminists. The point here is that why men are alone criticised and demonized for the miseries of women? Because what I see is that, most of the times it is one woman who is responsible for another woman’s sufferings. But I see no voices being raised over this, no questions being asked and no debates held either.
The question here is that when shall feminists look upon the miseries of the poor victimised women? Or are the feminists confused about who to support and who to condemn since they believe that a woman should never be questioned, no matter what. Or is the whole idea of modern day feminism an elite discourse? If the idea of Feminism is all about equality, let voices be raised equally too for both the genders. I see no voices raised in support of men who are victims of sexual abuse. I see no one standing up for them when they face injustice ( sometimes at the hands of women).I see no one sympathising with them for genuine reasons either.
The crux of the matter is that rather than standing up for sexes, let’s stand up for humans. Let’s stand up in support of victimized women but at the same time, let’s stand up for victimized men too. Let’s also be open in our criticism for everyone who is wrong, irrespective of their genders. Standing up for humanity, rather than for sexes is the need of the hour and is sure to solve a lot of problems and issues at hand. Standing up blindly for men can give rise to chauvinists but also standing up blindly for women too can give birth to ‘Feminazis.’ And, both are equally dangerous and harmful for a society. Both must be put to an end and Equality must prevail in its truest spirits – equality not what these feminists propose, but the equality rather balance (between men and women) which will raise the status of women in the society. And history is witness to the fact that it has happened only once during the arrival of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), when Islam was implemented and followed in its fullest and truest forms.
*Author is pursuing post graduation in English Literature from University of Kashmir and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer: Views expressed are exclusively personal and do not necessarily reflect the stand of Oracle Opinions.