What we are born with defines our sexuality but the norms of these societies act as our mould and make us man and woman. Simone De Beauvoir in her book Second sex wrote “One is not born a woman but rather becomes one.” This is relatable to every human out there. Society makes us unequal, it wants us to fit into the narratives defined for genders. The misconception of our society is so deep-rooted that it doesn’t want to accept feminism thinking it to be matriarchy instead of equality.
“One is not born a woman, but rather becomes a woman”
These are the words of Simone De Beauvoir and with these words, she means the social norms made by the society based on the preconceived notion of the society for femininity and masculinity.
Simone De Beauvoir has explained why the first sentence that comes to her mind whenever she tries to define herself is “I am a woman”. She shared an anecdote of her life from the time when she was born. In October, when she was born and was just one year old her aunt visited her. In the bassinet of Simone, there was a little tag that announced “It’s a girl” while the very next bassinet held a tag that announced, “I am a boy”. Thus there lay an innocence of a distinction between a male subject and a female object.
Now, this very little anecdote defines how one’s individuality is so much dependent on that person’s gender.
Judith Butler author of “Gender Trouble: Feminism and Subversion of Identity(1990)” has said, “The gendered process of socialisation rigidly categorises children into the binaries of femininity and masculinity, and teaches them to gender roles and relations which are constructed through their repetitive performance of gender.”
This signifies that we all are caged in our gender by seeing and performing the continuous gender roles and perceptions that have been practised for years without any question. Blue is for boys and pink is all for girls is just one example of it.
“When she stopped confronting the conventional picture of femininity she finally began to enjoy being a woman.” - Betty Friedan
Betty Friedan accused the media of the reproduction of sexist ideology which led to the growth of unhappy women in America, trapped in their domestic roles as dedicated mothers and subordinate wives.
The second wave of feminism saw research on gender roles in media and how women are represented in it. Betty Friedan had a great role in it. This all led to the bursting of beauty myths and standards kept by society and the media was taking it all along on its shoulders.
Media is the most powerful tool to create one’s thinking and narratives. The rise in awareness of people about the third gender would never have been accomplished without the media. Well, it is this media which many at times hints that being a misogynist and misandrist is alright and one can do nothing about it.
Media builds and breaks gender stereotypes. For years the media has shown us that advertisements on cleaning equipment, kitchen appliances, detergents, or energy drinks for children are always associated with women as if men have no role to play in these. While advertisements of SUV or TMT steel bars always have men as their symbolic representation as these are thought to be the product of strength.
Now Media is changing the stereotype that it has built as the new Raymond ad celebrates that show how strong a single mother is. They portrayed how a true man respects the sacrifice of his mother and is proud of her.
Scrutinising a feminist will make you feel that they don’t hate men or the other women who are against it. Most of the times they need to chant this “ yes, I am a feminist and I don’t hate men” due to the environment of stereotypes where feminist is termed as men haters. Most of the time the question is raised “why feminism and not egalitarianism or humanism?”. The reason is that feminism is not about just equality between every gender, it's about making women reach the rights they have always been denied.
While exploring the delineation of women in India, the only female prime minister is Indira Gandhi and the only female president is Pratibha Patil. Women have always questioned their position in society and quite a long history is linked to it. Every country has a different demand for feminism as the demographic disparity of countries. India is still fighting for the basic living rights of a girl where female foeticide is so evitable.
Indian women's struggle for rights through generations has been witnessed. Sita, a woman of strength who never gave up on grief or fear as a single mother, she portrayed that women can be the breadwinner along with homemakers. Draupadi, a strong woman who for the sake of her honour questions her husband and all elderly people available in the courtroom. She defined that women are not anyone’s property who could be put on stakes.
Feminism has always seen Virginia Woolf, Adrienne Rich which makes it sound western but it's not. Feminism is the need of every country and every woman.
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