Articles

Feminism: Political Dimensions

This Article is written by Shivanshi Aggarwal, a student at Maharaja Agrasen Institute of Management Studies, GGSIPU

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Indroduction

As per the last census of 2011, women constituted about 48.5% of the total population of India. With regards to the world population, as per 2020 reports, women constituted about 49.6% of the total population. By observing this almost equal population of men and women there is also a need to give equal rights, opportunities, attention, appreciation, and resemblance. But this was not the case, women were oppressed by the other half of the population and there was the need to uplift them. Talking about uplifting women, there begins the concept of Feminism. Feminism as a concept came with actual meaning to give women their recognition amongst the male-dominated society. Feminists’ motto was to provide women their equal rights, recognition, and protection as men. In the earlier era, both developed and underdeveloped societies did not recognize the importance of women, and women were only treated as house caretaker and thus there was the need to encourage and enlighten feminism as a concept and the feminists running the idea. But this could not be done casually; there was a strong need to add political aspects to it. Political machinery, states, and their agencies can really help to achieve what was needed. 

Background

When women deteriorated that they were not given any dignity to live as in the case of medieval Europe, where women were not given the right to own property, to study, to vote, to hold elective office, or to participate in public life, in France where they forcefully asked to cover their heads, in Germany where the husband had the complete right to even sell his wife, in India where women were burned alive at the time of their husband died and if not then not giving any space to live in both native home as well as in the home of in-laws, then their started need to speak for themselves which can be seen in the ancient civilization of China, Greece and India. Though effective feminism came in the second half of the 20th Century seeds were sown earlier. Various Upanishads like Brihadaranyaka shows the role and position of women in the family and various ancient books around the world give the idea of modern feminism as well. These books and ideas gave strength and a new valuable mindset to women and they came to protest. In the USA, women gathered around streets demanding equal rights and protection. In India as well many women could be seen giving speeches, handling rallies, and protesting to protect and educate girls especially youth. At the time of Independence, many women came to show their bravery such as Rani Laxmi Bai, Uma Bai, Sarojini Naidu, and many more which shows women had the audacity to handle all that was not considered as women’s work. This protest gradually spread to more parts of the world like Britain, France, and Paris. Various publications of books helped women to engage themselves more in this protest like Kate Millett’s Sexual Politics, Germaine Greer’s The Female Eunuch; Mary Wollstonecraft’s All indication of the Rights of Women, Beauvais’s The Second Sex, and many more. Earlier politics was mainly controlled by men and rarely any women could be seen in power. Moreover, when many women wanted to stand against this mentality, she was stopped by even her own family, neglected by people, and threatened by so-called ‘men in power. When any women party, organization, group, activists were formed they were not given any attention or value and definitely not viewed as politically empowered. They were not supported and voted. Earlier people thought women were fir for kitchen and housework while organization and businesses were made for men and men only. When women did some work for the society their contribution was not even mentioned by men politicians and leaders and gave themselves all the credit for the betterment of societies. There was a lot of gap between opportunities given to men and women, work admiring to men and women and giving the real paycheck for their work done and thus started women enlightenment and self-development in all political, social and economical aspect and feminism found its real motto and meaning.

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Wrong Feminism

Women were so weakened that it was necessary at that time to come in front and show that no gender is less than other. But the entire concept of equality, slowly and gradually took place of revenge and superiority. A lot of spaces can be seen where women raped men saying that if men can do why women cannot have the advantage, there were lots of cases where false allegations were put to come out of the situation. This shows that feminism somewhere took the wrong turn. In the name of feminism many crimes took place, they were encourages and many innocent went behind the bars. Feminism somewhere lacked its motive of developing women and rather made women step into mud which was meant to clear. Some recent cases can be shown where a cab driver was falsely slapped by a girl in Lucknow. Women cannot use feminism as a weapon for revenge rather it was a support to show and enhance their skills and capabilities. 

J.S.Mill’s Contribution

Mill wrote a lot about deeply affected life of women. In that era women was leaving under the shadow of her husband. All the property and money which even belonged to her was under the holding of her husband. Women did not have voting rights. Legally as well she was under the influence of her husband. Women were always looked as house worker. Women were considered as emotionally weak and incapable of performing leadership work. Thus to show this inequality J.S.Mill wrote The Subjection of Women. Where he told how women should be given more legal powers and should be given work which could show that this gender is no less as well. His essay gave the idea of modern feminism as well which shows his characteristics of modern feminism. In Mill’s essay he shows that inequality was not just harmful for women but also for society’s overall progression. In the era of politically discouraged women, Mill gave the idea of liberal feminism and shows the quality of women hood.

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Judgements

Equal Coparcenery Rights

In the case of 

Vineeta Sharma V. Rakesh Sharma and Ors.

The three judge bench of Honorable Supreme Court of India gave the idea of equality through its judgement. In this case Vineeta Sharma filed the case against her two brothers and her mother. This judgement shows how both daughter and son have equal rights to be and as a coparcener even after the death of their father in a Hindu Undivided Family. This judgement proveds same rights to daughter as a son would have regarding succession of the property. The court further cleared that if partition took place then property would be divided as per rights and rules but if not then both successors would have same rights after the death of deceased.

Equality even after marriage-

In the case of

Bhuvaneshwari V. Puranik Vs. State of Karnataka

This case was another historic example of equality. This case shows how marital status of daughter does not affect her relationship with her parents. If married son can claim appointment on compassionate ground on the death of his father, so can married daughter be. The high court claimed that the rule will violate Article 14 and Article 15 of Constitution of India and thus married daughter should have the same rights as a married son. 

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Sexual Harassment at Work Place-

In the case of

Vishakha V. State of Rajasthan

This judgement provided safety for women at workplace. At that time labour harassment and sexual touch at workplace was increasing, thus this judgement proved a light sight of relief for women. Bhanwari Devi, a social worker was gang raped by five men when she tried to sto a child marriage. She was even tortured and humiliated by doctors and police officers and spent entire night at police station. But high court gave decision in her favour when trial court acquitted the five men. All her sacrifice led her to the landmark judgement in her favor which proved feminism as strong as any men could be. 

Conclusion

It is not so that politics was strengthened and structured by men only but the contribution of women in ways of doing social work, giving opinions, education and so on was not recognized and admired thus feminism needed support in several ways like to grant women equal rights as of men and to participate in all affairs, more women to be appointed in army, schemes like Save Girl Child, Educate Girl Child and many more. All these schemes and projects were taken into consideration and proved to be affected specially in such countries where men are considered to be valuable and strong. People needed to understand that women are not inferior to men. As the concept of democracy is being adopted by several countries, they needed to know that democracy comes along with equal rights irrespective of gender and hence both men and women needed to be treated equally both legally and socially. The patriarchal society and the families which treat men as head and supervisors needed to be changed and replaced by communal living. But women also needs to understand that this fight was for equality and for bossing around and hence all the effected and harmed women should be given strength and they should not misuse this such an wonderful opportunity in the name of feminism. In my opinion consciousness of women shall be raised but not given the right to forcefully put someone in the incident which shows or proves innocent, guilty. 

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