Defining Feminism

This is the month when the world celebrates “women’s day”.  GBs and reams have been dedicated to issues concerning women as well as to their problems.  After all this, one wonders whether women in some parts of the world really have any reason to celebrate their womanhood.

Without harping on the issues which are widely discussed, I want to focus on a relatively new problem faced by women.  We talk of equality, freedom and liberation from the shackles to which society has bound us.  Feminists – a much maligned lot – are doing all they can to better the lot of women.  But are they achieving what they are trying to?

Blog after blog, post after post and various women’s sites are witness to women coming in reporting their disillusionment with their situation in life.  Educated, working, earning, playing the roles of dils, wives and mothers to the hilt, having their money taken away by ILs, not being allowed to take care of their own parents, being forced to either give up their jobs to take care of children or worse still having to balance work, home and kids with little help and a lot of taunts ……  it is all there.  Nothing changes.

YET whenever a stay at home mom or a home maker comes and complains about her issues with life, the first question she is asked by other women is “why did you get into an arranged marriage, why are you not working, why does your husband have to earn for you, do you think what he goes through being saddled with a wife and having to earn for the family single handedly” ……. 

I shall not even get into the topic of arranged marriages here as that is a subject for another discussion altogether.

While I can understand that a truly liberated, self-sufficient woman MUST be able to earn and stand on her own feet, my question is are we still at that stage?  Are we in a situation where working women stay unmarried, single or in an equal relationship?  Do they really get respect for their abilities and for their individuality?  As things stand today, all I see is that women are being caught between the devil and the deep sea – very few choose or have a third option open to them.  They are probably in a worse situation than their grand mothers who were financially dependent, had no other life or options beyond home and family, but it ended there.  They were not in a situation where they had to be superwomen and achievers while living the same life of drudgery and slavery which many women of today live.  All we seem to have achieved so far (EXCEPT for a small percentage of women) is that women have ended up in a position where their education and work are being used to exploit them further.

Under these situations, is it fair that we women who fight for the rights of under privileged women add insult to their injuries with our words?  Are we not putting the cart before the horse in demanding that women must work without sorting out the ground issues?

My second question is how do we define “equality”?  Does this have to be 1:1 equality?  Is that really reasonable?  Why can’t women, in the face of their biological differences continue to play a nurturing role while demanding respect and value for that COMPLEMENTARY ROLE?  Why should running a home, looking after family and kids be considered demeaning?  It is one thing going out and working because one wants to, or because the family requires it financially (in which case, she better be treated well and fairly) and another matter having to go out and work just to make a statement.  

Why should home makers be considered unequal?  What is the use of marriage if one’s contribution to society and family are not acknowledged to be as important as going out and raking in the moolah?  Why do we (men and women) have to lose out on real “home life” simply because everyone has to go out and earn just to be acknowledged as “equals”?  All of us require a safe haven in our lives to return to at the end of the day – we call them homes – and in providing this, women need to be given their due acknowledgement and be compensated in terms of emotional and financial security – after all if they had gone out to work during that time, they would not have been available at home to provide that comfort to all concerned.  To my way of thinking, equality would be admitting that they work 24X7 in various roles / designations.  This needs to be recognized and all family members need to pitch in to help her out when they are not out working.  The home needs to be recognized as the woman’s “work place” and not as a hideout or a route of escape and free loading on her part.

It would be nice to share some ideas towards sorting out this grid lock to ensure that women lead better existences in the decades to come.


6 Responses to “Defining Feminism”

  1. Men&Women are equally sexist,it just so happen to be a coincidence that men have an upper hand in most patriarchal societies like India.

    Modern Women who are educated also run the society as much as their male counterparts.

    Women are like this in our society ONLY because they have chosen to cling to an outdated agrarian tradition A.K.A “Indian Culture/Sankskar” which sees men as breadwinners and women as baby makers.

    Technically speaking India still is an agrarian society and has poor urban planning&infrastructure and on top of it all Indians are downright degenerates.

    So as long as the majority of india is illiterate&poor… women can only dream of having a equal status in this society.

    Its not like i feel sorry for women anymore either.. they have chosen to play this role in the society for GENERATIONS now and now its like an embedded code in their DNA.

    • Dark Knight, on the point about women working and earning, we do see a lot of women in high profile jobs who still are bound by patriarchal laws and rules, not because they want to, but because financial “independence” has not helped them get out of their shackles. So what we are seeing as of today is women being expected to bring in the moolah while playing their traditional roles at home – playing Superwomen in short. The ability to earn has not necessarily translated into equality in other respects. We still have a very long way to go before we reach a point of true equality. For that society needs to be able to come out of its hidebound ways – not just women.

  2. And i strongly disagree with your presumption that women are to stay at homes making food for her husbands… that’s disgustingly stereotypical and sexist.. why aren’t men allowed to do the home work?

    Men can’t cook?
    Men can’t wash?
    Men can’t clean?

    Men can’t do anything and everything has to be done by women because the society has brainwashed you into accepting rigid gender roles?

    I’m an educated person so i don’t think its only women’s responsibility to take care of the home,its disgustingly lazy and immoral to say otherwise.

    If you’re married to a person and are living with her/him YOU are equally responsible for doing the household chores.

    If you really love a person you’re going to treat them on equal terms.. however we know for a FACT that Indian arranged marriages are not based on love between two individuals but its based on a treaty that is made by their parents.

    • Dark Knight, I do not presume that women are to stay at home making food for their husbands. Nor do I say that it is a bad thing if they choose to do so. All I am saying is that different stages and circumstances in life might place different demands on a woman as well as on a man. It does not matter who stays at home and runs the home. There is no reason why one of three scenarios is not possible:

      Both earn and both work at home
      The man earns, the woman takes care of the home front
      The woman earn, the man takes care of the home front.

      How this is worked out depends on the individuals concerned. The one taking care of the home is no less in stature than the one who earns money.

      Taking care of the home is neither lazy – there is a lot of hard work involved, nor is there anything immoral about it. What is immoral is if all members of the house do not chip in at some time or the other during the day and if it is expected that one member works 10 hours of the day outside and the other 24X7 at home (no matter if it is the man or the woman).

      What we need is to define the word “equality” in a more reasonable manner.

      As for arranged marriages (even though that is not the topic of discussion in this post), I agree with you to a large extent.

  3. Quote:
    Both earn and both work at home
    The man earns, the woman takes care of the home front
    The woman earn, the man takes care of the home front.

    I prefer the first of the three.
    Depending on the needs of the family, and nature of the work one of the partners could work part-time too.

    What shocks and repels me is the fourth scenario that you have not mentioned but is also commonly encountered, viz
    The woman works and earns while the man drinks, gambles, fools around and also beats her up regularly.


    • Thanks a lot Vishwanathjee for the feedback. Yes, the fourth scenario also exists. While I like the option of one person working part-time too, it hardly changes anything vis-a-vis the woman’s position. When women who work, still get ill-treated at home, how can we expect (as of today) that a part-time worker (as in earning) is going to be treated well? What needs to be done is a complete re-think over the value placed on household jobs.

      The whole problem is not so much one about money as about the power play as well as the low value placed on the jobs that women do within and outside the home for which they don’t get payed.

      The situation is something akin to bonded labour. Suppose all people working in organizations were told “we will take care of you for life – you get your food, clothes and a roof over your head – the quality depends on what we, the employers can afford and you have to make do with whatever you get and be satisfied with it, do you think the employees would be respected as much as they are today? Isn’t that the kind of situation housewives find themselves in? For the sake of “social security” they get married and have to take over the responsibilities of a home, family, ILs and at the end of it, they get clothes to wear, food to eat and a roof over their heads. Consider all that they have to give up just for those basic necessities! That is where I believe the fundamental problem lies.

Would be useful if we could have some option to block certain posters.

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