Women's Day Special: Here's why women and men need to be allies for feminism to be a success

Feminism can be an organic powerhouse only when men and women join forces

Sapna SarfareUpdated: Monday, March 07, 2022, 08:40 PM IST
Photo: Freepik

Ages have passed and increasingly, women are bettering their best and being considered equals. The feminist movement is making headway in that direction. And it gains momentum with both the genders working as partners. After all, equality and rights are not gender-specific.

There is a need for men and women to align themselves for feminism for an equal society. Rashmi Mittal, Pro-Chancellor, Lovely Professional University, rightly mentions, “Women's true potential is forced to cripple behind the bars of early marriage, unequal opportunities in education and profession, and sometimes unfortunate misogyny. Both genders need to look beyond their gender to treat women all equally. Rising above stereotypes is the need of the hour.”

Issues and misconceptions

Alka Kapur, Principal, Modern Public School, educationist and social activist, thinks of sameness as the biggest misconception. “At its root, feminism is about equality between men and women. However, many individuals argue that equality cannot be achieved as women are not the ‘same’ as men. It is important to realise that ‘equal’ does not mean ‘same’. Feminism is all about equal rights and equal access to opportunities.”

Society should remove this 'sameness' myth for good. It is harming the very essence of feminism. “Indian men have no incentive to give up their privilege and entitlement in favour of women,” reveals Dr Neelam Gupta, Founder President & CEO, AROH Foundation. “They have everything to lose by being real feminists as they are wholly dependent on women for their caretaking, sexual needs and to enhance and project their masculinity.”

Being a feminist means believing in and fighting for women's social, economic and political rights and equality. Dr Meenu Kumar, Founder, Cosmo Arts & Cos We Care Foundation, adds that it is connected to female and male equality. “Today, most men and women recognise and respect equality and support each other in building their careers. Furthermore, today’s feminist moment is more varied than yesterdays because it includes transgender people.”

Societal conditioning and parental upbringing can be reasons behind achieving equality difficult. Many think of it as a concept in which feminist women are outspoken and bold. Ruchika Sinha, Assistant Professor, Department of History School of Liberal Arts Noida International University, says, “In actuality, feminism is a movement where men and women have equal access to resources available in society, nothing more and nothing less.”

More discussion

Misinterpretation of feminism among men and misrepresentation of feminism by women stops them from becoming allies. Adil Meraj, Founder and CEO, Gurucool, reveals, “As men, many times we fail to look at women’s issues objectively and empathetically. We live in our bubble and think everything is okay with women around us. There’s this confusion between equality and equity. When a man questions why a woman deserves a reserved seat, he fails to answer why most of the seats are occupied by men.”

Everyone believes in equality, but not many are aware what it actually means or how to practically implement it. Pankaj Gulati, Head – CEO Office & CMO, Fincare SFB, reflects, “The specific views on feminism are rooted deeply in one's personal and direct experiences. In the end, both conscious and unconscious gender bias is rampant amidst us, but many of us aren't even aware of it.”

The journey

Dr Gupta calls the journey progressive as Indian women are making a mark in traditionally male-dominated areas. “Most urban Indian millennials seem to approve of these changes, according to data. However, a significant portion of men are reluctant to share responsibilities at home, making it difficult for women to work outside homes.”

While the journey is somewhat sad with men staying away or purposefully ignoring women's rights, women are still trying to break the glass ceiling in different spheres. Even a slow amount of men are joining in support.

Kapur calls the ‘voyage’ as a paddle one. “The majority of men and women today recognise and accept equality. There are more opportunities for both genders, and women shine in their fields just as much as men do.”

Sinha wants to imbibe the process of feminism early in life. “Society should normalise tears as an expression of a boy’s emotions as much as normalising an ‘extrovert’ girl. A boy wearing PINK should not be mocked. A girl wearing BLUE should not be considered unfeminine.”

The modern world is progressing and seeing a decrease in gender discrimination. However, it has changed its course subtly with a whiff of discrimination, sexist comments, and so on that are not obvious. Meraj sees empowered and empathetic women leading the world towards being fair, compassionate and less extreme and corrupt. He is still learning from women and unlearning his biases and stereotypes.

All aligned

Feminism can become a true power when men and women join forces. As per Dr Kumar, for the ultimate aim of feminism, both genders must recognise the importance of equality and treat and respect each other as humans first. It begins at home with the family teaching their child early on about the importance of equality and respecting people.

Meraj calls it a tough battle ahead and wants everyone to join hands to fight for the right thing together. “Men and women are not separate beings. We are meant to support, comfort and complement each other,” he expresses.

Echohing similar sentiments as Meraj, Gulati says, “Aligning to feminism helps create awareness about the big picture; how each one deserves equal rights and opportunities, which groups/sections require some more affirmative action. In the end, you get the merits of having a fair, healthy and prosperous world for all. It starts with being receptive to different views, values and beliefs, thus creating higher acceptance of fairness and equity as the guiding principles, rather than who is right or wrong.”

In the unequal Indian scenario, there is a big necessity to begin looking at the neglected half of the population. A nation is as strong as its people. They, in turn, are as strong as their women.

Dr Gupta quotes the World Economic Forum mentioning that it will require another 99.5 years to get to global gender equality. There is a need to double to efforts. “It’s a fight we cannot afford to lose, as women’s representation is essential to design inclusive and sustainable societies. While the notion that the domains of feminism as a predominantly women's space persisted, it could not be denied that the participation and solidarity shown by men who identified with the cause, shall be an added advantage, especially from those from the marginalised communities,” Dr Gupta shares.

In the end, it would be great to follow what journalist David Alejandro Fearnhead is saying: Life is not a competition between men and women. It is a collaboration.

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