Feminism

Posted: September 5, 2012 by anitahadasangwan in Uncategorized

 Some say feminism is outdated. Others say it just doesn’t work for everyone. Some say we’ve become too political, too organizational, too theoretical — that we’ve lost our grassroots functioning. Others would prefer picking and choosing their causes within the women’s movement.

            The truth is that feminism has been wrought with controversy and schisms since its inception. One of the best things about feminism has always been its elbow room for dissension and its emphasis on open communication. We don’t all look alike. Why should we all think alike? The bad thing, however, is that every time we disagree on something, someone says, “Look at those women. They just can’t get along.”

Historical circumstances and values in India make women’s issues different from the western feminist rhetoric. The idea of women as “powerful” is accommodated into patriarchal culture through religion. This has retained visibility in all sections of society; by providing women with traditional “cultural spaces”. Another consideration is that whereas in the West the notion of “self” rests in competitive individualism where people are described as “born free yet everywhere in chains”, by contrast in India the individual is usually considered to be just one part of the larger social collective, dependent for its survival upon cooperation and self-denial for the greater good.

            Indian feminist scholars and activists have to struggle to carve a separate identity for feminism in India. They define feminism in time and space to in order to avoid the uncritically following Western ideas. Indian women negotiate survival through an array of oppressive patriarchal family structures: age, ordinal status, relationship to men through family of origin, marriage and procreation as well as patriarchal attributes –dowry, siring sons etc. – kinshipcaste, community, village, market and the state. It should however be noted that several communities in India, such as the Nairs of Kerala, certain Maratha clans, and Bengali families exhibit matriarchal tendencies, with the head of the family being the oldest women rather than the oldest man. Sikh culture is also regarded as relatively gender-neutral.

            The heterogeneity of Indian experience reveals that there are multiple patriarchies and so also are there multiple feminisms. Hence feminism in India is not a singular theoretical orientation; it has changed over time in relation to historical and cultural realities, levels of consciousness, perceptions and actions of individual women and women as a group. The widely used definition is “An awareness of women’s oppression and exploitation in society, at work and within the family, and conscious action by women and men to change this situation”. (Bhasin and Khan 1986) Acknowledging sexism in daily life and attempting to challenge and eliminate it through deconstructing mutually exclusive notions of femininity and masculinity as biologically determined categories opens the way towards an equitable society for both men and women.

We have to take apart all prejudices and pre conceived notions and rebuild according to individual perspective , finally bringing it together is a wholesome cooperative togetherness. 

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