Feminism as an idea has emerged through the ages. Started as a campaign to assert the basic Rights of women, the idea of feminism has been exploited by a few. Christine de Pizan was considered as the first writer ‘to take up her pen to defend her sex’ in 15th Century. Later, the first wave of feminism began in late 19th century to assert political rights (Right to vote and Representation). Adding on to this, the second wave of feminism began in late 20th century to assert sexuality, workplace and reproductive rights. The demands are evolving with the time and it is beneficial for the society. All these reasonable demands can be genuinely addressed with political will, but in the name of dignity, there are few under carpet demands which ought to be blatantly opposed.
A World Bank study in 2001 found that for every one standard deviation increase in female representation in Parliament, there would be 20% reduction in corruption. But a recent study points out that the impact of gender on depends on the societal norms. If the corruption is widely accepted in a society, then women tend to be as corrupt as men. Those women who successfully climbed the ladder by asserting their rights are not averse to the greed of money. It will definitely not hold to everyone. But, while demanding for their rights and dignity, are women forgetting the cost of assertion? Is it resulting in selfish feminism?
Few women emphasize their rights only when they need it. This irony can sometimes be observed around us. It is always an issue if someone asks dowry to marry ‘her’. But when it comes to her brother, he should be ‘well paid’ as he is the sole breadwinner. It is completely fine if her father accepts a bribe to buy her a new iPad. But, it is a big issue when a Chandigarh police officer accepts the bribe and refuses to file a FIR. She also demands a better earning husband though she has access to similar resources. Only when a husband earns more than her, he deserves the respect. Sometimes, even the concern for her security is being viewed as imposition of patriarchal norms by her parents.
The demand for 33% women reservation in legislature, entry of women into temples, stringent norms against marital rapes are all valid. From abolishing Sati to passing a strong Nirbhaya Act, Indian feminism has pocketed many successes. However, different levels of intervention are needed for different geographies, religions and castes across India. Sex ratio is skewed in Haryana where the sex selective abortions are rampant. So, government duty is to fight against female foeticide in these parts of the states. In rural areas, the patriarchal norms are still rampant. Here, the cultural intervention by NGOs is necessary. Muslim women face even more subjugation. Thankfully, Supreme Court abolished Triple Talaq and provide them a hope in Indian Legal system.
A wide range of disparities in Indian society is the dilemma for most of the feminists. As women gain more power and respect in the society, they should not forget the fact that their fight is for EQUALITY and not for HEGEMONY.