Breaking the Glass Ceiling

The distorted understanding of feminism has become a reason of prejudice
against those who voice for gender equality and women's empowerment.

By Azmina Ali Khan | May 2020

I still remember the day when I got the opportunity to attend the Global Community and Development Programme. Using the AIESEC platform, the world's largest youth-run organization, my short trip to the Mauritius Island turned out to be a life-changing experience for me. As an exchange participant under the AIESEC programme, I worked in Mauritius with the “Gender Links,” a local NGO dedicated to promoting feminism and women’s rights. While working there, I chance upon to hear about some real-life stories from women, who were abused and tortured in numerous ways and how the Gender Links helped them to lift them out of poverty and male subjugation. In the beginning, to be very honest, I was a bit hesitant to work with them, but I soon realised how wrong I was about FEMINISM. Many of my friends criticized me for being one of them. I doubt even many of you still believe the same way about feminism.

Learning from my work experience at Gender Links, today I realise the fact that political matters and socio-economic issues give rise to public unrest and lead people to undergo abuse, often silently. Going against the general perception, now I can firmly say that it is not just women who suffer from gender bias, but men too confront similar gender-based discrimination and injustice. Many research studies prove the fact as well.

Unfortunately, the unrealistic critique of feminism has been used to define it as an anti-male movement and to distract one’s attention from the rampant gender discrimination that permeates every facet of our society. Honestly speaking, the main objective of feminism is to advance social, political, psychological and economic equality of both genders: men and women. The term "feminism" does not imply that women more important than men; it simply places emphasis on the need to end gender inequality and to offer women equal opportunities to advance socially, economically and politically, as men tend to enjoy in the world.

As per the feminism perception, a woman should always be recognised as an individual, instead of being a daughter, wife, sister or a mother, and her personal identity should not be amended once she gets married. According to feminism, women have the same value as men’s and deserve equal opportunities in all walks of life. Feminism espouses the fact that when a women’s privacy is violated or threatened and her modesty encroached, it’s not her fault. For the most part, feminism is an overarching concept that broadly describes that each individual in the society has equal rights to flaunt their own sexual identity and express their sexual orientation in their behavior without hesitation. Above all, feminism tends to be a conviction that one’s ‘consent’ should be prioritized before anything else.

‘Feminism is not misandry.
In our society, the word ‘feminism’ tends to be largely a misinterpreted term. Unfortunately, feminism is not seen as a movement that ensures gender equality but is wrongly taken as an evil move that disregards man, incites gender-based hatred and endorses female power over men, which is not true.

The term ‘feminism’ is wrongly considered synonymous with ‘misandry’. The distorted understanding of feminism has become a reason of prejudice against feminists. Over the years, the word ‘feminism’ has attained negative connotations which describe the movement as a drive to endorse the superiority of the female gender. It is not even near to its true definition that mainly talks about the equality of the sexes. Hence, the word remains a subject of debate.

To be very honest, feminism is a complete way of life and is not just a time-bound movement. To end gender bias, we first need to address all forms of discriminations that take place on the basis of class, caste, ethnicity and religion. Gender equality is for everyone irrespective of their sexuality, gender, race and religion.

Personally speaking, I am not a feminist as inaccurately seen by the society. I am a woman of dignity, have high aims and ambitions and would like to see other women be proud of their gender and wear it like a badge of honour. I believe feminism is a well-knit lifestyle which imparts equal opportunities to both genders in all walks of life. Without a doubt, there is always a scope for the men's rights movement to improve and sustain and it must be in synchronization with women's rights.