Sunday, July 4, 2010

FEMINISM

"One of the things about equality is not just that you be treated equally to a man, but that you treat yourself equally to the way you treat a man. ~Marlo Thomas"

The copy book definition of feminism can be referred to as :a political,cultural or economic movement aimed at establishing greater rights,legal protection for women and/or women liberation.Feminism includes some of the sociological theories and philosophies concerned with issues of gender differences. Just a few days back over a phone chat with my friend,among other topics,this issue of female rights or female power or feminism,came up as a topic of our discourse.And my friend being a girl and a feminist herself was very happy to point out that there is a visible change in our society today regarding treatment of women and women rights.She was indeed fully correct in her observations.


If we look back and compare 1950's-60's to the times we are living now,we can get a clear picture of a visibly significant change,though not fully, that has occurred over time and needless to say lot still need to be done but certainly we are in the right track.In the 1900's gender discrimination was fierce and was rampant in every field of the society.Right from birth till the time she died a woman was subjected to the dogma of gender bias.A woman looking for a job in 1960's would invariably end up getting typically low-paying subordinate posts regardless of abilities or education.Women were systematically excluded from opportunities in the workplace and were more often treated shabbily by their male counterpart as if to signify -"This is our world,what are you doing here?".

Today as the result of feminist movement that primarily started in the west which later was followed up by slew of movements of 1960's and onwards by the developing countries which urged the passage of anti-discriminatory laws in the workplace and challenged social beliefs that "a woman's place was in the home".The barriers that challenged women from seeking a career have been eliminated.Though many feminists think otherwise but most people believe that feminism has dramatically expanded job opportunity for women.Over half of the work force now is composed of women and there are many who have attained positions of prestige.Furthermore,according to women history project, "now we see women in literally thousands of occupations which would have been unthinkable just one generation ago:dentist,veterinarian,airline pilot etc.Advancement of women within workplace is the most important accomplishment by feminism and successes in voting rights,education rights are among others.Anti feminist voice cry out in protest saying women are now forced to sacrifice their personal lives-either by choosing not to have families or by severe restrictions on the time spent with the family due to work commitments in order to survive a competitive workplace.As an anti feminist writer once wrote which explains this scenario;

"Feminists’ changes have made it easier for my daughter to have broader choices than women had growing up when feminism was in its insurgency. She knows she has work options if she chooses them, options that the 1950s generation of mothers did not have. But she has no illusions about what it means to be a working mother. A pressured and stressful job can’t compete in the quality of life categories with cooking for her husband and son."

feminist argue that working outside have made girls more responsible as otherwise they would have spend the time doing household work.both feminist and anti feminist agree that balance between work and family is important but they have two completely contrasting solutions,while the latter suggest women to shift focus from work to family by getting married and bear child at an early age,stay at home to raise their child then pursue career but the former on the other hand object to the idea of reverting to traditional roles.In their view ,the difficulty of managing work and family is ample testimony to the fact that the system needs a change and not women.Critics argue that feminism has hurt and harmed women and society by not emphasizing the importance of the traditional concept of family,by legalizing abortion and encouraging women to engage in premarital sex. After so many years this debate still continues but we do see light at the end of the tunnel. From a pan India perspective we can make some engaging observations.From politics to sports to education, women are every where.If they can dive deep into the water they can also get a feel of the outer space.Sonia Gandhi,the most powerful politician in India,Sania Mirza and Saina Newal the most popular and successful sports woman in India.Bharka dutt has single-handedly revolutionized TV journalism in India.They are all women,they are Indian and they are successful.

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