Impact of Feminism on our Society!


‘I am yet to understand what the exact meaning of feminism is! But I have noticed that every time I have tried to extend my identity beyond that of a doormat, I have been branded a feminist.’

— These are the famous words of the earliest feminists of Europe, Rebecca West. And yet they ring true even today.

To those women of honor who chose to disagree with this, I at The Style Symphony, wish to say, peek into homes of men who claim to be liberated. The status of their women and those men’s impact on them will tell you the true story.

And to gauge the liberation of any society, take a look at its matrimonial columns. Are matrimonial columns still divided by caste? Is it still mandatory for the advertised bride to be fair, beautiful and homely? Has any space been created for independent minded, self-assured, confident women? Do divorcees wanting to remarry still have to advertise themselves as ‘innocent divorcees’ and mention in passing that they were married for only a few weeks or days? Do men have to advertise themselves in the same way?

If one dwells on the answers, it would be obvious that even if we are not exactly doormats (at least a large majority of us) any more, the impact of this new change has been more cosmetic than real. Women have always existed mirroring a ‘created’ identity that would put patriarchs at ease. Every time a woman tries to redefine that, eyebrows have been raised. A rebel is welcome as long as she does not disturb the status quo. Not only at home, but at work as well! Her impact is only welcomed if it doesn’t disturb the so-called ‘Male Ego’.

It would be naive to imagine that a power struggle as intense and as a politically important as this could be a simple affair. A redefinition of her status would mean redefinition of the status of men and that of man-woman relationships.

At home it could mean redefining sharing responsibilities. At work, it could mean much the same. If the woman’s feminist impact turns out to be more efficient— which she often is— it could mean greater status and honor for her. This could lead to a situational crisis where the male would be nursing an injured ego and the woman, true to her centuries of genetic conditioning, is apologetic about being too obviously superior.

It is a tricky situation which could escalate existing tensions and bring about a marked deterioration in man-woman relationships. How does one defuse the tension? The honorable way, so far, has been for the woman to backtrack on her success route and call the truce. This impact has been embedded in our minds as the honorable way by religion, by popular culture, by commercials. And by the media!

The sexy dame, who woos the hero in her trendy micro minis, takes no time to switch to the traditional sari and pallu once she ties the knot. There is, however, no such role switch for the man. He continues to wear what he wears, and continues to do exactly what he has done all along, in every walk of life.

There is one little difference though! He now has a companion who inspires him and provides him with emotional support. Is the situation identical for the woman? Does she get as supportive a companion? Does her companion feel as proud of her success as she does of his? Does he choose to stay in the background once in a while and allow his wife to hog the limelight? Or make a few sacrifices to allow her smooth passage to her next promotion?

We know many of us will say yes, our men do. We agree. Some of our men have changed and accepted this new impact of gender relations and power structures more gracefully than many, many others. But they are only a handful. And we know what kind of social pressure they endure in order to allow their grace to prevail. These are the men who make us feel it was worth the wait. That the change came the right way and at the right pace!

For who can deny the fact that we need them as much as they need us? The idea was never to eliminate them from our world but to redefine and bring back the two on an equal platform. While we are proud that our perseverance paid off, in some cases the battle is far from over. We have a few understanding men, but there are many, many more who still advertise for women who will not disturb the status quo.

And as long as there are such advertisers and as long as there are women who respond to such advertisements, many of us will continue to remain glorified doormats. The impact of that battle that was launched a century ago by feminists is far from over.

Sangeeta Mishra

  • When I was studying literature, I read so many articles on feminism…..the idea behind it all was the ‘struggle’ to be become ‘free’ from unjust patriarchal laws……Gradually, each and every act started being labelled I guess…..we humans always want to label things because we are so unsure of where we stand….Equality was what feminists had started the fight for…..some understood and some carried it to wherever they wanted…..Can there be a possibility that we will ever become ‘equal’….? I am not sure of the answer….For in uplifting the cause of ‘woman’, many have erred too, blaming it all on the ‘male’….and considering every act of doing things ‘differently’ as a sign of liberation.

  • You have raised some wonderful questions, questions that I ask too. Women are still fighting battles in their lives for things that the law has provided them. But laws don’t change mindsets, do they?

    • Well said Kalpana! Despite having such a strong law system to our rescue, we are still stuck in a battle- like situation where we have to fight for our basic necessities.
      Laws can’t change mindsets,as long as they are implemented in lives.
      Thanks a lot for stopping by. 🙂

  • Any genuine relationship can only be based on equality, an attitude which accepts the other as another individual with the same rights as me.

    • Very well said. But despite being educated and self proclaimed modern, people still think otherwise. Their are only a few of them, who have accepted this change and implement it in their lives.
      Thanks for dropping by. 🙂

  • Extremism is always bad Archana. But at least we should be fair enough to judge the other gender, keeping their perspective in mind. And that should be applicable to both, men and women. 🙂
    So ‘feminism’ in actually ‘seeking for equality’. 🙂

  • Thank you so much Prasanna. It’s being quite clear that you have completely understood that this post is not at all against men. But it’s about the way women are still being treated with bias and disparity, and about the social and economic inequality prevailing in the society.

    I’m so glad that you, despite being a boy, agree to all these points, which are the basic reasons of imbalance in our Indian society. If the boys like you think this way, no longer is the day when we could see that balance and equality in our society.

    Thanks once again for appreciating. 🙂

  • Purba Chakraborty

    Wow! I loved the way you have written this article. Powerful, bold and honest. And I totally agree with each and every point 🙂

    • Thank you so much Purba. I’m so glad that you liked the post, and the idea. Your words of appreciation mean much. 🙂

  • Feminism doesn’t mean battling with our male counterparts or imitating male traits in every way. It means recognising the deserving place in the society and to become independent, in every way. Equality is the essence….very well-written article on feminism…I must say… 🙂

    • Absolutely right Maniparna. You have perfectly sensed the essence of feminism as well as this post. It’s not at all about playing poles apart, but all about being treated as equals.

      Glad that you liked this post. Thank you once again for dropping by.

  • I am not a fan of feminism at all… some how that concept doesn’t cut ice with me… 🙂

    • Not the feminism in ‘typical’ terms Archana. What I’ve written is not at all against men, or say about the extremist approach of feminism, but a quest of being treated as equals. 🙂

  • The thing in matrimonial columns for a ‘fair,beautiful,homely ‘ girl always hurts me and the thing about film heroines made me wonder always ,girl who wears sexy clothes in first half ,will change into extremely traditional ones after shaddi or judai ( in the crying time of the judai songs ) .The image of ‘perfect woman’ which they are trying to sell through films is in fact irrational.

    • So true Sadhvi. This is quite a hypocritical situation projected by our media or films, despite being claiming that they have quite progressively evolved. That’s why I said “women are being treated like glorified doormats there”.
      The term ‘Perfect Women’ is a mirage caused by them and women often wander over around that image.

      Thank you so much for your insight. 🙂