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Feminism and the Society

This article highlights you all the tradition and cultural practices, which leads to violation of women rights in region. It is totally based on secondary data collected through surveys, studies, analysis and report from the various data of regional, national and international organization.

Now coming to the subject matter, feminism has been one of most hot and controversial topics arose not only in our country but also in the whole world, which we'll discuss further. Feminism provides a personal, philosophic and political means for analyzing the realities of women's lives as lived in patriarchal systems. It is not a single line of thought; multiple approaches have been developed that provide diverse avenues for confronting systematic injustices while learning to value ourselves as women.

Feminism, the belief in social, economic and political equality of the sex. Although largely originating in the West, feminism is manifested worldwide and is represented by various institutions committed to activity on behalf of women's rights and interests. Throughout most of Western history, women were confined to the domestic sphere, while public life was reserved for men. In medieval Europe, women were denied the right to study, to own property or to participate in public organization.

At the end of the 19th century in France, they were still compelled to cover their heads in public and in many other parts of Germany, a husband still had the right to sell his wife, this type of disgust was going on at that time. Even as late as the early 20th century, women could neither vote nor hold elective office in Europe and even in most of the United States. Women were prevented from conducting business without a male representative, be it father, brother, husband, legal agent or even son. Married women could not exercise control over their own children without the permission of their husbands. Moreover, women had little or no access to education and were barred from most professions.

In some parts of the world, such restrictions on women continue today. By considering the further knowledge of Indian feminism, the history of feminism in India was divided into three phases, the first phase was, beginning in the mid-19th century, initiated when reformists began to speak in favour of women's rights by making reforms in education, customs involving women and the second phase was from 1915 to Indian independence, when Mahatma Gandhi incorporated women's movements into the Quit India Movement and independent women's organizations began to emerge, and finally and also the third phase was post-independence, which has focused on fair treatment of women at home after marriage, in the work force and right to political parity.

Feminism is both an intellectual commitment and a political movement that seeks justice for women and the end of sexism in all forms. However, there are many different kinds of feminism like Socialist feminism, Reformist feminism and Radical/Separatist feminism. Feminists disagree about what sexism consists in and what exactly ought to be done about it, they disagree about what it means to be a woman or a man and what social and political implications gender has or should have.

Here issue is about the inequality between men and women that there is no equal rights and no equal access of the opportunities. It has been tweeted that:
It's critical to understand that same doesn't mean equal. The discussion was like that women are not same so there can't be the equality. In others words, because their bodies are different (many of them said smaller and weaker) and because men and women have different physical capabilities, so these physical difference means equality is not possible.

Men and women don't have to be the same in physicality to have the equal rights. If we come up with the example, if there were two men in the workplace, one is physically smaller and weaker than the other, would we believe it's right to keep smaller and weaker one, by continuing with another example, if there are two young boys in a classroom, and one is physically weaker and smaller than the other, would we believe to give education to 'weaker' and smaller one only. This means only strong person can have equality in society, really? That also meant, the 'strong-people' can only maintain the equality in society and by considering this we have to make woman stronger like a man to maintain equality in the society, really?

The whole socialization process involves the construction of masculinity and construction of what we can call Feminism. Boys are always asked to be brave, strong, articulate etc. Boys are encouraged to be tough and outgoing but girls are encouraged to be homebound and shy. They are made to think that are superior and they are going to rule this world and it is right, because the way we see them growing and girls on the other hand are us to be subdued and don't be argumentative, don't exercise and get muscles because you wouldn't look like a lady, don't do haircut because you wouldn't look like a lady etc., and there are many things which is prevented by the society on women and this side men are even pushed to become alpha men and have strong muscles, six packs abs and what not.

Girls are told to be gentle as said but further their movement are controlled, they are told not go outside by yourself, come home before the sunset or darkness spread, why are there all these restrictions on the women? and this is not end, also they are being scared that don't go outside by yourself and if you'll go, you'll get raped and then you're to be blamed for this. Just imagine, the victim is blamed for the crime committed on her, what kind of justice is this? Girls are always told to come home before the sunset or darkness spread and boys can loiter hang around outside and have fun, why? Because women could be sexually assaulted, so by considering this, if men are kept at the home and then they don't become the criminals and after that girls can have fun and they'll be safe also, so we have to think innovatively of changing the way we see men and women.

Article 14 of The Indian Constitution

Article 14 of the Constitution of Indian provides for equality before the law or equal protection of the laws within the territory of India. It states:
The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.

Article 14 guarantees equality to all persons, including citizens, corporation, and foreigners. Its provisions have come up for discussion in the Supreme Court in a number of cases and the case of Ram Krishna Dalmia vs Justice S R Tendolkar[1] reiterated its meaning and scope as follows. Article 14 permits classification, so long as it is reasonable, but forbids class legislation.

A classification of groups of people is considered reasonable when, the classification is based upon intelligible differentia that distinguishes persons or things that are grouped from others that are left out of the group and the differential has a rational relation with the objective of the act.

In addition, the classification must be non-arbitrary. Supreme Court in E.P.Royappa(1973)[2] provided guidance on arbitrariness of an act, Equality is a dynamic concept with many aspects and dimensions and it cannot be cribbed, cabined and confined within the traditional and doctrinaire limits. From the positivistic point of view, equality is antithetic to arbitrariness. In fact, equality and arbitrariness are sworn enemies. Where an act is arbitrary, it is implicit that it is unequal both according to political logic and constitutional law and is therefore violative of Article 14.[3]

Gender Imbalance

As we saw that, Article 14 of Indian Constitution gives equal rights to everyone within the territory of India, then why society is making difference between men and women? Why society is spreading this feminism more? Here, Article 14 of Indian Constitution clearly says that each and every person will be treated equally, that means women are also included in the definition of 'person', then why they were not treated equally? Indeed, the struggle for equality has been one of the major concerns of the women's movement in the world. 'Women is the complement of the men not inferior'. In India, since long ago, women were considered as an oppressed section of the society and they were neglected from the centuries.

The birth of the sons is being celebrated while the birth of the girls is filled with the pain like a gloom-day. Why this much inequality between men and women? Because, all this difference between men and women is created by the society. Still there are many places where they think the birth of the sons will maintain their ancestry, will maintain their lands given by their ancestors, will protect their family and while on the other side the birth of girls is filled with pain like a gloom-day. Gender inequality is the conception that men and women are not equal and that gender affects an individual's living experience.

These differences arise from distinctions in biology, psychology, and cultural norms. Some of these types of distinctions are empirically grounded while others appear to be socially constructed. Studies show the different lived experience of genders across many domains including education, life expectancy, personality, interests, family life, careers, and political affiliations. Gender inequality is experienced differently across different cultures.

When women go out to work, men think their pride and their family's honour will be destroyed. Only because of this cheap thinking, women are still struggling with their hard life, many of them are not allowed to go outside themselves, many of them are even not have courage to do such act (for any job or workplace) and not even have courage to fight against this cheap thinking. Their courage has succumbed under this cheap thinking and obviously it'll, because they are being pressured, they are being blackmailed, they are being coerced. Now considering the further survey, society celebrates the day named 'International Women's Day' on 8 March every year, why society is celebrating this day?

Because, this International Women's day is celebrated since long back for achievement throughout history and across nation. It is celebrated for the women's achievement on worldwide level. They are celebrating this day, because this day has occurred for well over the century, with the first IWD gathering in 1911. The question is again that, why we are celebrating this day?

Yes, that is true that they fought their first fights and they won that, then why they are not getting benefits of that fight? This day is celebrated in all over the world, but you need to know that this world contains 195 countries and there are still many countries where women are not treated equal like Jordan, Sri Lanka, South Korea, Egypt, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, India etc. Then there is no need to celebrate this day until the women are started treating equal in all over the world.

Feminists Jurisprudence

Feminist Jurisprudence includes the study of different strands of feminist theory and the themes that have emerged and developed within feminist logic, as well as the application of theory to issue that interest members of class. It is the law's neutrality as the very mechanism that perpetuates injustices against woman. Feminists embrace a view that attempts to challenge the existing legal status by focusing on what kind of institutions and laws would be necessary to redress the imbalance against woman in society. It is the very core of our society that the feminist jurists' question. They argue that we must look at the norms embedded in our legal system and rethink the law. What is equality or an injury in light of broader understandings of those norms?

Feminist Jurisprudence helps to point out that what is neutral or natural for one person is a distortion for another human personality. Pregnancy, child rearing and other care giving activities are still treated in the workplace as peculiar occurrences, rather than what they are, commonplace functions that serve the larger good.

The pervasive influence of patriarchy on legal structures, demonstrates its effects on the material condition of women and girls, and develops reforms to correct gender injustice, exploitation, or restriction. Promoting freedom and equality for women reflects a profound shift in basic assumptions about the nature of women and their proper place in the world: a shift from inequality to equality of the sexes, along with re-examination of what equality itself requires.

Feminists believe that history was written from a male point of view and does not reflect women's role in making history and structuring society. Male-written history has created a bias in the concepts of human nature, gender potential, and social arrangements. The language, logic, and structure of the law are male-created and reinforce male values.

Deviation from the norm, by presenting male characteristics as a norm and female characteristics as deviation from the norm, the prevailing conceptions of law reinforce and perpetuate patriarchal power. Feminists challenge the belief that the biological make-up of men and women is so different that certain behavior can be attributed on the basis of sex. Gender, feminists say, is created socially, not biologically. Sex determines such matters as physical appearance and reproductive capacity, but not psychological, moral, or social traits.
  1. Traditional or Liberal, feminism asserts that women are just as rational as men and therefore, should have equal opportunity to make their own sides. Liberal feminists challenge the assumption of male authority and seek to erase gender-based distinctions recognized by law thus enabling women to compete in the marketplace.
  2. Another school of feminist legal thought, cultural feminism, focuses on the differences between men and women and celebrates those differences. Following the research of psychologist Carol Gilligan, this group of thinkers asserts that women emphasize the importance of relationships, contexts, and reconciliation of conflicting interpersonal positions, whereas men emphasize abstract principles of rights and logic. The goal of this school is to give equal recognition to women's moral voice of caring and communal values.
  3. Radical or dominant feminism focuses on inequality. Similarly, to liberal feminism, radical feminism asserts that men, as a class, have dominated women as a class, creating gender inequality. For radical feminists, gender is a question of power. Radical feminists urge us to abandon traditional approaches that take masculinity as their reference point. They argue that sexual equality must be constructed on the basis of women's differences from men and not be a mere accommodation of those differences.[4]

(i) Liberal Feminism

The historical origin of contemporary liberal feminism goes back to 18 centuries. An important principle of this philosophy was individualism by which was meant that individual possesses the freedom to do what he wishes without interference from others. Liberal feminism is an individualistic form of feminist's theory, which focuses on women's ability to maintain their equality through their own actions and choices.

It emphasizes on making the legal and political rights of women equal to men. Liberal feminists argue that society holds the false belief that women are by nature less intellectual and physically capable than men, thus it tends to discriminate against women in the academy, the forum and the marketplace. Liberal feminists believe that female subordination is rooted in a set of customary and legal constraints that block women's entrance to and success in the so-called public word. They strive for sexual equality via political and legal reform.

General view of liberal feminists is that women are caused by social and legal barrier that blocks their access to public sphere of politics and economics. Liberal feminists demand liberals follow their own principle of universal human rights and equality and demand equal treatment of women and men, insisting that women are fundamentally similar to men. The theorists argue for law to be gender blind that there should be no restriction or special assistance on the grounds of gender.

(ii) Radical Feminism

Radical feminism is a perspective within feminism that calls for a radical reordering of society in which male supremacy is eliminated in all social and economic contexts. Radical feminists view society as fundamentally a patriarchy in which men dominate and oppress women. Radical feminists seek to abolish the patriarchy in order to liberate everyone from an unjust society by challenging existing social norms and institutions. This includes opposing the sexual objectification of women, raising public awareness about such issues as rape and violence against women, and challenging the concept of gender roles.

A perspective within the feminism, radical feminism believes that patriarchy is the overarching structure that oppress women due to their sex. Unlike those strands of feminism that sought to address gender inequality through reforming the existing socio-political- legal system, radical feminism believes that a radical restructuring of the society through eliminating male supremacy and challenging social norm is the only thing to bring about a gender just society.

Taking an example of the law of adultery which is now unconstitutional earlier in the case of W. Kalyani v./s State Tr. Insp. Of Police & Anr on 1st December 2011.[5], it was held that only men can be prosecuted for the offense of adultery and women cannot be prosecuted. The judgment was further criticized on the grounds for showing a strong gender bias making the position of a married woman almost as a property of her husband.

The women were seen as it was subordinate to men and in the jurisdiction of them. It took almost 160 years for the court to understand that women are not a chattel and have certainly equal status that of men. After having the provisions of equality in article 14. The absence in understanding the concept of gender neutrality by the courts after having the provision laid down in the Constitution has resulted in the prima facie violation of women's independent.

In Independent Thought v. Union of India[6], a division bench of the Supreme Court of India read down exception 2 to Section 375, Indian Penal Code (hereinafter referred to as the lPC for short), which now stands thus altered, Sexual intercourse by a man with his wife, the wife not being less than 18 years of age, is not rape. Earlier the provision had prescribed the age as 15 rather 18. Sexual violence apart from being a dehumanizing act is an unlawful intrusion of the right to privacy and sanctity of a female. It is a serious blow to her supreme honor and offends her self- esteem and dignity it degrades and humiliates the victim and where the victim is a helpless child, it leaves behind a traumatic experience.

End Matter:
In the ancient time, women were not allowed to go outside by themselves, they were even not allowed to take off their veil, not allowed to talk with others. At that time, there were no one to fight for them against this cruelty. but now, there are numbers of debates that, now women's have their rights, they are getting free and have their protection. Indeed, there has been vast change in last few decades, laws were created, they are become free, they have their rights now, they are being in protection, and after this all, if they have rights to raise a voice, then why they are scared to raise their voice. Do you really think that they are safe? and if they are, then why in every 15 minutes rape commits in India according to survey.

If a woman, who is victim of rape, tries to file a case, then death threat, threat-notes, blackmailing and also all the ways possible are used to pressurise her for not starting the legal battle or for not raising voice against the crime. That is just a tag that women are being protected, actually they are not. That is just a tag that women are being treated equally, actually they are not. Feminists are doing much more things related to this by various women organizations, they are doing protest, many of the movements are still running, etc. but while this, we need to do a lot of things about this word called Feminism. If we want to end this inequality from the society, we have to change the way of thinking and we have to think innovatively.

Women demand rights today and the world needs to step-up and stand for it. It is universally accepted that even if the world wants peace, a group of few people could disturb the stability periodically and yet peace could be established. Let's dream about that day when the world would want equal women's rights and no periodical disturbance would be able to break the foundation of such noble thoughts. Remember, we are not talking about reservation for women, we are talking about equality.

  1. Ram Krishna Dalmia vs Justice S R Tendolkar
  2. E.P.Royappa (1973)
  3. Article 14 of Indian Constitution,
  4. Legal Information Institute (LII), Cornell Law School
  5. W. Kalyani v./s State Tr. Insp. Of Police & Anr on 1st December 2011
  6. Independent Thought v. Union of India

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