Quick Look At Feminism History
Feminism is a western idea which is among the most talked about and debated topics in west. First wave of feminism, initial women’s right movements were focused on political equality via voting right for women and made it happen in 19th Amendment, 1920. It was the first major victory for Feminism. With mid-19th century, second wave of feminism started raising issue with a much wider range as domestic violence, marital rape, gender pay gap, family and custody laws, unpaid work, etc, many of these issues still found under current discourse. Then, there is a third wave in 1990s and fourth wave in 2010s that basically believed women is a victim of oppression at multiple level in every society and need to be liberated from men’s clutches. Use of technology and social media to raise support for cause and mobilize people to pressurize governments to act on Feminist issues.
What Defines Today’s Feminism
There are many definition of Feminism today, but most generic and widely accepted definition is, “Feminism means equality for Women“. This definition is very obvious and positive, when scrutinize with more details and question on word “equality”, you will realize that it is bit confusing and it is kept like that for a reason. For example, gender-pay gap, it is a gap in average income of working men and women but disregards their sector and sometimes even salary slab they fall in. Women’s choice for medical fields is discredited, blaming it on upbringing rather than personal choice and nature. Men is by default oppressors and should be other-ed if do not believe in feminism. Women taking care of their home are inferior to corporate women and need to be enlighten.
Having a loose definition also allows Feminist to adjust as per sociopolitical situation of a country or region. If something work, it can be highlighted further, if it doesn’t, it can be abandon easily. If some idea got backlash from society for being cruel, all it takes to disown a set of people and replace them with new faces.
It is due to this reason, many people have to give clarification on being feminist (as “according to me, feminism is this” or “according to me that is not feminism”). Because, issues raised in US (#BlackLivesMatter, #MenAreTrash movements) being abandoned in India, positions taken in Canada (Bill C-16 for enforcing gender pronouns) is not even discussed in India, Issue of marital rape (Wife can accuse husband for sex without her consent) went silent when masses didn’t support it. Considering housewife as an unpaid full time worker for her chores, can make Indian mother furious, hence not highlighted much, and many more such discrepancies in ideas.
Empowered Indian Women
What we are observing these days in India is 3rd and 4th wave feminism issues, since voting rights and property right was never been a problem for Indian women (except Jammu & Kashmir ruled under Art. 370 ). Feminism in India is not taken seriously enough in our discourse even by powerful women in our country.
India had Indira Gandhi as our first women prime minister in 1966 and Indians still mention her name with pride, bigger point is, when she took PM’s oath there was no debate on “why we need a woman PM?” or no discussion on “we must have a woman PM”. Nobody remember her as just a woman, but as a tall leader and former PM of our country at first. It is still a matter of discussion in western countries though.
Smriti Irani, one of the most influential and outspoken women leader of our country also mentioned that the feminism is imported from west and it is not in sync with the culture of our country that believes in “अर्धनारीश्वर“. She also said, classifying a professional as a woman, itself is insulting towards women as everyone should be judged on the merit not gender. She criticized forceful entry of activist in to a temple where woman are banned (temples where men are banned from entry) due to “ब्रह्मचर्य” of the God living there, nobody has right to desecrate.
There are many such strong Indian women whose grand thoughts don’t fit inside feminism.
Why Feminism will not work in India
Since time immemorial, Indian people (regardless of gender) are worshiper of Goddess. Indians worship Devi (feminine) in different forms and have dedicated festivals for each form of Devi. Longest festival Navratri, dedicated to Goddess Durga, Lakshmi, Saraswati and MahaKali, is celebrated for nine days where men and women perform Puja everyday and serve meal to young girls as a service to Goddess herself. This festival end with taking blessings of young girls by men and women of every Indian home.
Devi Durga and others are a manifestation of Shakti – All energy in the Universe. Shakti is the part of all life, including plants, humans (regardless of gender) and animals. Hence, Devi cares for everyone as a mother. Devi takes different forms, Durga is goddess of focus and determination to deal with “Durgam” situations, Lakshmi is goddess of wealth, Saraswati have all the wisdom in the world and MahaKali is invoked when annihilation of enemy is needed.
One may argue that these traditions are not followed 100% in the society, true, but it is followed to a large extent and the ideals are still intact which eventually help society to come back on track.
Even if you now re-read first few paragraph of this article, you will find feminism as narrow in front of Devi. That is the reason, Indians don’t find anything enlightening in Feminism, it may be new for Western world but not for Indians who are practicing highest form of feminine since thousands of years.
Devi is Divine, Feminism is small
Feminine divinity is no way comparable to feminism but a quick review of both in today’s perspective will give clarity in our minds
- Feminism talks about only women, Devi talks about humanity and cares for everyone equally as a compassionate mother (real gender neutrality).
- Feminism assume women as superior to men, Durga is destroyer of arrogance and even when God of all Gods Shiva bows down to her.
- Feminism see women as a separate identity, Shakti is part of all life in this Universe hence no segregation from one to other since all belongs to one, Shakti.
- Feminism is either ideal less or having ideals who are not enlightened, Devi is supreme and above the bondage of life and death. Understanding Devi is the enlightenment in itself.
- Feminism defined loosely and it keeps changing with time and more precisely it changes as per forces in power (radical left), Devi is indigenous, it is well written and defined, hence, cannot be hijacked by any ideology.
- Feminism is western construct and had to be forcefully injected in our society, Devi is part of our roots, it persist in all of us organically and can be used to wake us all.
- Feminism is asking women to be more like men, Devi inspires women to become goddess.
As the need for women empowerment is visible, Indians should adopt Devi as an inspiration so that men, women and transgender lives in harmony as part of one. Let the Devi guide us, give us strength, give us knowledge and sanity, give us resources and give us infinite power to suppress demons among us.
या देवी सर्वभूतेषु शक्तिरूपेण संस्थिता । नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमो नमः॥
Feminism in India is a wide topic to be covered in one article. If you want to read more about this topic then please mention in comments section.