Most people today have more questions about feminism than answers. In the modern society, there is still not a clear unambiguous attitude to feminism and a clear understanding of its goals and methods. Even those who generally support women's rights often believe that there is no need in feminism in the modern world where there is a state of triumphant equality. Nevertheless, in fact, a whole range of topical global problems is associated with gender inequality. Despite cultural diversity, in many countries the quality of life still depends on sex. According to the forecasts of the World Economic Forum, gender equality in the economy will come in 170 years. This means that in 170 years average salaries of men and women will be equal and that feminists have something to work on during this period. While some women are eager to fight for equality and express their attitude with their deeds and positions, there are often other women who oppose feminism.
Problems that Women Encounter While Challenging Gender Expectations of the Society
Since the advent of the feminist movement, it is taken by the society aggressively as it is portraying feminists as psychopaths who are unsatisfied, ugly, and unsuccessful women. Since too many people are supporting such idea, other representatives of the society have started believing that a feminist is an unlucky aggressive woman, which could not be taken as truth. In many countries, women are still afflicted with rights and feminists are struggling to ensure their basic rights using the voice of the mass media to prove their attitude. Unfortunately, elimination of inequality at the legislative level is not enough: gender stereotypes are firmly rooted in culture and lead to the fact that women and men have a restriction by certain social expectations. Unequal position of men and women is not only evident in the usual way of life, but also in legislation (Sa’ar, 2001). Although laws should be a way of protecting and ensuring equal rights, they are often an instrument of infringement. Under the laws of some countries, for example, India, rape of women in marriage is not even considered as a crime. One of the most difficult provisions in terms of legislation for women is in Israeli-Palestinian families as male custodial relatives control almost all spheres of women’s lives (Sa’ar, 2001). Females have to follow rules and show decent respect for the elders even when their demands are humiliating (Sa’ar, 2001). Feminists are often struggling with obsolete laws and regulations, even facing the punishment for this from the perspective of the public opinion.
It is necessary to point out problems of the feminist women from the so-called Third World where the fight with gender expectations in the society faces a number of problems. Uma Narayan who defines herself as a Third World feminist immediately makes a point of clarifying that she assumes this identity for the sole purpose of explaining her location rather than assuming a fixed set of values and knowledge of the culture that one belongs to (Narayan, 1997). Feminists from developed countries often accept uncritically distortions of the ‘First World’ view over other feminists from other countries. At the same time, the modern society fails to admit that the Third-World feminist critiques have the origin in intracultural criticism of social institutions of those countries (Narayan, 1997). The most common consequence of this position is that of blaming the culture for practices considered to be undesirable.
According to the organicist analogy, malfunctioning of a part can only be a cause or a consequence of a diseased body. Another variant of this reasoning concerns a critical and shifting stance of the Third World feminism as a form of betrayal of the integrity of the culture (Narayan, 1997). In a more leftist version of this critique, feminist protest activities in those contexts are seen as a form of westernizing gentrification (Narayan, 1997). Narayan shows that these criticisms are related to the imperialist notion that the West is dynamic and plural, while societies from the rest of the world are trapped by immortal traditional cultures (Narayan, 1997). According to this prejudice, feminism, fighting for the change of habits and values, only fits in the West (Narayan, 1997). Following this reasoning, in Third-World contexts feminism has only a created vision of a product imported from the West, which is exotic and ill-adapted, a way of destabilizing values of local traditions.
Women against Feminism
On the opposite side of supporters of the ideas of feminism, there are people who consider gender equality as something shameful and it is significant that such attitude is also common among women. At different times, feminism faced particular attempts for compromise in different ways. Nevertheless, one thing has remained unchanged as it has always been said that only inferior and abnormal women share the ideas of feminism. At the same time, the myth of real femininity in the spirit of patriarchal ideals of obedience and helpfulness has progressed and is progressing. In support, a threat is formed that a woman who does not meet the patriarchal ideal will never be happy, will not marry, does not recognize love, and so on. Even more confusing is the fact that there are enemies of feminism not only among men, but also among women. Both those and others in their rejection try to bring the ideas of feminism to absurdity, disgust them, and form an extremely unaesthetic image of a feminist.
In the understanding of many women, feminism is an ideology based on the issue of life in a patriarchal world in which all women are oppressed and all men are privileged, when a movement is trying to correct this situation, as well as a set of dogmas and all sorts of doctrines. From the perspective of feminism, sexism exists only in relation to women. Therefore, women who do not consider themselves to be victims of oppression and believe, for example, that men can also be subject to gender discrimination just like women oppose feminists. A woman can think that feminists want to take away from her the opportunity to enjoy those privileges here and now that the patriarchal society provides, but these phenomena contribute to supporting the worst situation of women in the society as a group. In addition, women who oppose feminism have been waiting for this movement to deprive them of what is called protection from men, as well as traditional courtships. Many women brought up in conditions of gender inequality do not like the situation relating to equal rights and equal responsibility when a woman makes her own decisions, takes responsibility if necessary in areas where it is traditionally expected from men, or takes the initiative in a relationship (Kandiyoti, 1988). A woman can think that feminists want to make men effeminate, irresponsible, and infantile. Therefore, the attitude based on a wrong interpretation of gender roles and positions of feminism concerns a constant misunderstanding between feminists and opponents of the movement.
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Feminism has no task of imposing anything on women; on the contrary, one of its goals is to enable them to choose their own life scenario and have conditions for its implementation. Gender stereotypes have also had a significant influence not only on women, but also on the culture like in countries of the Third World. While feminists have been trying to prove original goals of the movement, which are equality in social life and freedom of expression without limitations based on gender and culture, other women have opposed the movement. Supporting any views that are considered to be non-standard, including support for feminism, can undermine adaptation of a person in the society and lead to public condemnation, while women can be judged not only by men, but also by women. All women are different and the society should understand this, including feminists.
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