As we dwell in the 21st century, women continue to seek the same rights as enjoyed by their opposite sex in all areas including education, health, transportation, and franchise. On many occasions, they face discrimination and are sexually harassed because of their sex. In the face of these challenges, it becomes the duty of every man and woman to stand by the women. If an individual irrespective of gender campaigns, writes, and speaks for an inclusive world and against gender inequality, is called a “feminist”.
According to Britannica, “feminism is the belief in social, economic, and political equality of the sexes”. Likewise, it says feminism is of western origin, however, across the globe, women face common challenges such as the gender pay gap, being degraded, and subjected to domestic violence. Whether you are in the USA or live in the rugged mountains of Balochistan, social likeness, political articulation, health, and education facilities must be given to both genders.
In this article, we will explore the emergence and evolution of feminism. We will also discuss the role played by different experts, intellectuals, and writers in promoting the cause of feminism, and also leave some questions for Baloch feminists.
Historically, Women’s liberation persisted as an issue without a movement until the nineteenth century. One of the founding feminists was Mary Wollstonecraft. Her work had a tremendous impact on the feminists in later years. She wrote two famous books: “Thoughts on the education of daughters” and “A vindication of the rights of women”. Her work called for males and females to be equally informed; equally represented, and women to be seen as human beings just as men are.
She campaigned for women’s rights in politics, employment, education and negated this notion that women’s duties are only to give birth to children and to look after them. She was also of the opinion that if equivalent education were given to women, they would accomplish results as males do.
The other influential feminist was Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815–1902). She was the first to organize the first women rights conference at Seneca Fall(a convention to discuss the social, civil, and women religious rights, work conditions, and privileges for women at large in 1884, New York ), it was the same time when Stanton was protesting for women rights, in the same year, Marx wrote the communist Manifesto. She dealt with women’s rights; comparable pay for equal work. Her work still is playing a gigantic role in today’s faminism and encouraging every Male and female to struggle for equality in different corners of the world.
Another prominent feminist of the nineteenth-century was Victoria Woodhull, the first women advocate for women’s rights of sexuality, and early woman to run for president of the USA. Moreover, she scandalized civilization for love as well as for socialism. She asserted that women who had already had the rights to vote as well as citizens born in the United States were granted these rights under the 14th Amendment to the constitution. In an announcement about the 15th Amendment (which abolished slavery in the USA, in 1870), Woodhull instructed by saying: “If men continued to exclude women from government, women had no choice, but to revolt and govern themselves “. She said each sex should be prone to the same social expectations. She questioned the conventional way of marriages and family burdens on women.
The first country to enfranchise women was Australia in 1902 and then pursued by others. USSR, now Russia bestowed ballot rights to women after a marvelous revolution in 1917. Canada in 1918, 1919, Sweden in 1919, Germany in 1919, USA in 1920, England in 1928, India in 1949. Before these upheavals, women were withheld from their basic rights of franchise apart from other rights.
Mao – Tse-Tung, the architect of the Communist Party of China and the revolutionary hero of China, once articulated while passionate about the role and rights of women said, “Women hold up half the sky”. It appears that Mao was fully acquainted with the rights of women in the communist society of China. However, it is another controversy that today’s China is pursuing an imperialist approach towards not only the Muslims of her own country but also in her neighborhood.
It is also a fact, feminism did not unfold in Mao’s land as relatively in Europe, and the west respectively. The French writer Simon de Beauvoir born on 9 January 1908 in France, was a feminist existentialist and feminist theorist. He published a book, “The Second Sex”. In that book, she contended that the dominance of women is not a biological but a social factor. By expanding her argument on the existence of women she said: do women really exist? If yes, then what is her stance in history? Furthermore, by defining her self she has to define her “first of all” as a woman, Beauvoir illustrated.
Following that, another outstanding personality on the subject Betty Frieden was a writer, activist who published “The Feminine Mystique in 1963, in which she pointed out women’s frustration and humiliation in a male monopolized society. The work instructed Friedan to be the first president of the National Organization of Women (NOW). Friedan was influenced by the endeavors of Beauvoir and she is known for inspiring the second wave of feminism in America.
The struggles of Mary, Woodhull, Cady, Beauvoir, Frieden, and many others fitted the backbone of feminist notions. They stimulated and motivated the upcoming feminists to obtain considerable opportunities in every aspect of life. These feminists and experts on the subject matter cultivated road maps for the term itself, simultaneously, they rendered different strategies and thoughts. Therefore, the question is not whether you are a feminist, more greatly, which camp of feminism you pertain to. Currently, there are myriad thoughts of feminism and each one has contradictions with the others. Let’s interpret them one by one and analyze which one can generously represent the Baloch society and how.
Reform feminist, also known as liberals demands important changes within the society. They do not want any disturbance in society, but rather the strength to cooperate with males. Reform feminists hold that men and women are distinct in many ways, but that diversity does not mean that one is inferior to the other. For them to be”equal” does not mean to be identical. They campaign for equality of humans, equal claim in human rights. Reformists say that leadership positions, professions in governmental affairs to be equally representative of genders. Moreover, the treatment for reformists is to provide an equal partnership with men according to societal norms and deeds. These are the liberals’ claims everywhere: women and men be equally treated, share resources, be it capital and human resources,
and child-care. Reformists investigate a cooperative relationship with men in persuading the goal of shifting the anti-feminine biases in the society. Thus, they speculate that cooperation between men and women is fundamental for society to progress.
Revolutionary feminists are completely distinct from those of the reformists. Their ways of campaigning are different. They believe that anti-feminist prejudices are so deeply rooted in men that they are useless to be followed. Additionally, claim that the joint effort to change society is flawed. They want to bring change through “force” and regardless of how much support they receive from males. They say patriarchy (government or controlled by men) is so strong in the male psyche that a gender-neutral society is impossible as reformists believe. But they negate this gender base neutrality of women. They are anti-worldview made by males. Instead, they revolt against every institution of society and assess them in their own biases. Simply, they work for feminine-oriented values.
Trained by profound male-biased society should be converted to reproduce woman’s way of looking at things. Political, social, and cultural institutions should be reoriented. Art, religion, education, government, law, science, the association have to be made to turn away from male-oriented power relations, and go over to feminine values of mutual consideration and nurturing.
Another factor they show is a timely focus on sexual oppression and violence. And they also support gay rights movements. They are the activists in combating pornography, sexual Harassment. Revolutionary feminists never think about cooperating with males in the struggle for women’s rights, whatever the situations are, and how hard it is to fulfill them. They just want to bring women emancipation by the one-sided struggle which is depended on the shoulders of women themselves.
This camp of feminists is relatively confused. For example, in one way they are against male culture, on the other hand, they want cooperation with them. Separatists neither accept male-dominated society nor they are in a position to reject it.
As they point out, bring reform with men but not by rebelling against them. Here they are not against male-dominated society, but they also say that the feminist movement can only succeed by ignoring the male culture. However, they agree with the revolutionary feminists at some points. Like they say the male culture is so strong and so be accepted, it can not accommodate the change. Withing the Separatists they disagree with themselves about the reasons for strategies. Some speculate that gender differences are due to biological while some say it has socially been constructed. Thus, whatever the reasons, the unification of women against a male-dominated society is essential and we shall resist it. The Separatists are totally against the heterosexual relationship and advocate the female sexual relationship. They say women can create egalitarian and loving sexual relationships themselves. Women can reside their lives ignoring their former authoritarians, thus liberating themselves from centuries of dependency on hopeless exploiters. Women should begin immediately creating their own world based on their own values and norms. They should flourish their own social system.
(to be continued)