For centuries women have been agitating for equal representation and it becomes more and more prominent as we approach the 21st century. Women are now much more aware of their surroundings and have widely extended their horizons in terms of their personal and professional life. Some even have awe-inspiring men in their lives who respect them for the person they are and share an appreciative relationship with the people around them. Most however, are not so lucky. Most women face a life of constant suppression in their work space and their homes. Some are oppressed to the level that they have no life outside their homes. They fight a constant battle with domestic violence of both physical and mental nature, fighting for survival against rape and sexual harassment, fighting for the people they love and care for.
In India, since the time of the epics, feminism has burst forth in small surges through Sita and Draupadi. We need only to look at Raziya Sultana and Noor Jahan to find examples in history. All through the world, women have been trying to emerge in the forefront through icons like Mary Wollstonecraft and Florence Nightingale for equal opportunities, suffrage rights and educational rights. Although women have now achieved suffrage and educational rights, equal opportunities are a long way off.
It is a pre supposed notion that feminists fight for the dominance of women over the society. It is needless to say that this assumption is a misconception that many people are living their everyday lives with. The fundamental requirement of a feminist is for a woman to stand shoulder to shoulder with her male counterpart; not in front or behind him. The UK High Commissioner to India Sir James Bevan recently told The Hindu that, “Feminism is the radical concept of the idea that women are people.” This brings forth a deep underlying incompleteness in our practice of this idea which is that women cannot attain equal parity with men unless they are supported by the men too. Unless a man realises that a woman deserve all that the world has to offer, the woman will be unable to enjoy the world in its full grace.
This theory of equality has led to the emergence of opposition and has led to the employment of constructive energy in a constant battle. Mandodari, the wife of Ravana, a lesser known character in Valmiki’s Ramayana brings forth this very phenomenon. In the story, she pleads to Ravana to let Sita go back to Ram but her pleading falls on deaf years. She tells Ravana that this enmity will prove to be catastrophic but to no avail hence, leading to Ravana’s demise. If Mandodari had Ravana’s support their end would have been very different. Actor Terry Crews recently told the Dame Magazine, “What I am saying is as one man to another man, examine your own mind-set. Because if you feel that you are more valuable than your wife and kids, that’s a problem.”
Both men and women are beautiful in their own way and they both incorporate an important part of the world. The general notions say that women are the nurturers and the homemakers whereas men are the protectors and the bread earners however, if the roles are reversed, both the genders will do equally well in the other’s shoes. We can look at some famous people for inspiration such as Sushmita Sen who is a single mother and plays the role of a protector and a bread earner for her daughters. Men can be pretty good chefs too and we only have to look towards Sanjeev Kapoor and Vikas Khanna for that. What feminists want is equality in everyday life for women and not superiority.