Why Fear Feminism?

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Photo by Ema Anis/ Amnesty International

Sheikh Imran

WHILE spending much time on social media with our community, we observe hundreds of posts appropriating women, demanding from them to abide by a male structured societal system, write what men there approve and say what they find appropriate.

Ironically, by this sense of entitlement, men are proving a classic argument of men being oppressors of women. This exhibition of dominance and entitlement is nothing but a deplorable display of male chauvinism, reactionary patriarchy, and male social conditioning. By practicing it, we are contradicting our own claims of fairness towards women and proving that nothing has changed with time and we still continue to oppress women in overt and covert ways.

One word which we very often see thrown around is feminism and those who support it or write about it are trolled and are often questioned on flimsy grounds. Without even having any concrete knowledge of feminism, it’s vilified through reactionary arguments which end up in negative labelling of women and consequent shaming of them. No regard is paid to the history of feminist movements and this ignorance ends up in a total disregard of the struggles of great women philosophers and feminist activists like Kate Millet, Simmone de Beauvoir or Virginia Woolf.

Yet another word used callously is, “radical feminism” which is actually an adjective meaning going to the fundamentals or foundations. Radical feminists locate the root cause of women’s oppression in patriarchal gender relations, as opposed to legal systems or liberal feminism or class conflict or Marxist feminism. In all its shades, even if we take radical feminism into account, it nowhere has any overt overtones of an ideological fanaticism in it. This school of thought asserts that women are viewed as “the others” to the male norm and as such have been marginalized and oppressed systematically.

Photo by Ema Anis/ Amnesty International

In the Western world, freedom is generally perceived in terms of the ability to satisfy personal desires and impulses for self-expression, in absence of any impediments or obstructions or retraining factors of authoritarianism. Emphasis is laid on external factors of freedom as they relate to the outer aspects of life — freedom of expression, autonomy, self-determination, self-dependence, self-regulation, democracy etcetera.

The concept of freedom is usually considered in terms of ‘free will’. It is taken as freedom of ‘choice’ that is ‘political freedom’ or ‘social freedom’ or ‘social liberty’ in accordance with biological theory and the evolutionary process. Human growth and development results in the person’s autonomy and independence of the environment which defines full individuality and true freedom of maturity or self-actualisation. This is a self -initiated development of personal integrity and mature growth.

On the other end, in the eastern world, freedom is perceived in terms of ability to act according to those convictions which are a proponent of internal harmony or freedom of conscience. Emphasis is laid on the inner fundamentals of freedom as they lay foundations of the inner aspects of life or “inner peace”.

These two conceptions of freedom point out a very important thing regarding the relationship of an oppressed seeking freedom and that of the oppressor seeking control — externally or internally, by conditioning or by controlling an individual’s thought process and thinking.

Now, human values develop and flourish with the environment provided to humans. In this schema, the oppressed will learn resistance while the oppressor will continue to maintain their control through various tactics including the use of institutions which are revered and unquestionable, and through a clever and efficient use of moral high ground which has a razor sharp impact on a reactionary society.

In case of gender, this relationship of an oppressor and that of an oppressed is quite clear. For instance, The French Revolution, a revolution which is often referred to as the movement which gave the modern world the ideals of liberty, justice, fraternity and equality, did not grant women any political rights and they were again rendered as passive citizens; a citizenry which had no say in the functioning or election of the government.

The desperation and frustration which men reflect is understandable and it only takes us back to the conservative times when women rights movements had started gaining impetus and men came out and opposed them from reclaiming their rights.

Today in this modern age, we can see the same pattern. The patriarchal policing present not only in our homes but even outside its four walls compels women to submit to a male designed social structure. Simmone de Beauvoir in her book, “The Second Sex “ had said, “One is not born a woman but rather becomes one”, indicating how the social stereotyping and a system dominated by men, compels a woman to accept the norms det by and in favor men.

Taking lessons from all the historical and topical lapses at the hands of men, the best we (men) can do is to acknowledge how our gender has exploited and oppressed women and to stand by them in their quest of reclaiming their rightful rights of a dignified life with freedom, liberty and no constraints.

Men owe women reparations for what they have suffered at our hands and this can be done by realizing the reality with honesty and keeping all our biases at bay. Those who cherish freedom and liberty in reality will find no problems in choosing a side here as well, it is just the reactionaries and the ones with a feudal mindset who promote, encourage this cellular form of social colonial imperialism.

  • The author is a student and a Freelance columnist

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