Feminism and US

The three waves of feminism have created on traditions

An apparent storm of the term “feminism” has recently gripped the country owing to some unfortunate incidents, including one in Lahore recently. Soon after such incidents, “feminist” warriors jump in to malign the “men” of this society who, according to them, are at the heart of all issues facing women. It is a pity however that the cannons fall silent once realities are exposed of certain women, including the one involved in the aforementioned case. Sadly, most of the self-proclaimed “feminists” are even unaware of the destination their chosen path leads to and blindly side with the “popular” view amongst peers. Adding Insult to injury, it is also unfortunate that most conventional media acts as fuel to the fire by conducting debates involving those who asininely attack each other bringing much-craved ratings to the outlets but doing little to address the core of this new divide midst men and women.

I, therefore, attempt to studiously highlight this ideology (and would wholeheartedly welcome any future critique grounded in academia too!) To quickly summarise, three waves of feminism are critical to the field with the first initiated in the 18th century by Mary Wollstonecraft who, in her famed Vindication for the Rights of Women, rightly envisioned the “humanization” of women which inculcated their right to education, and treatment not as property but independent human beings

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Once the first wave became efficacious (especially manifested in women suffrage of the early 1900’s in Europe), the upcoming years saw the “second” wave led mainly by Simone de Beauvoir, a French writer known for her book “The Second Sex” (a title that self-evidently signifies the decoupling of women from men). Briefly, for these relatively new-feminists, the whole system was unfavourable to women which could only be mended once women were able to break out of their domestic chains or “comfortable concentration camps” (a term used for the family home by Betty Friedan; another key figure of the times). Equality in jobs distribution was also demanded with equal pays for women other than the amelioration of structured domestic oppression within this wave.

But it was not long that this wave met internal opposition from another blend of activists/academics generally termed as the “third wave” feminists. Alluding to the privileges held by white women (who were the flagbearers of the second wave), the third-school called for the de-structuring of the feminist discourse and the addition of “intersectionality” (a term introduced by Kimberlé Crenshaw to study how women of color encounter differing layers of oppression). Briefly, according to the third wavers, singular generalization of women was not enough, and. one needed to address black women distinctly since they were in double jeopardy compared to those from white backgrounds. The same post-structuralist thought is propelled further by the likes of Judith Butler, who tend to question the whole idea of “gender” by delinking it with the biological “sex” believing that gender is a self-construction which further reinforces the binary relations between men and women that needs to end.

While attacks made by the third wave upon the second seem substantial considering the absence of other-women within the key contributors of the second wave, the more notable issue with it is its provision for “equality within jobs” which is not literal “equality” since threatening chores like coal mining are not where equality is demanded. Secondly, the wave counted domestic chores as a “burden” on women (akin to oppression) uncovering the hidden capitalist tendencies within it which aim to only glorify that which is price-tagged.

Let us collectively fight against all layers of oppression; may that be men doing against women, or women against women, or women against men, by targeting that “vice” and not the “gender”, for this is the ultimate path towards a prosperous society and not the one taken by a handful of “feminists” that are detrimental to our social and religious fabric

The hypocrisy is explained best in The Myth of Male Power by Warren Farrell who illustrates how getting more subordinates in an office is considered an increase in “authority” but managing more children is not, but rather a burden. However, coming from white, middle-classed women, it is less surprising that the wave is inclined toward capitalism and not “equality” which it claims to confer. The third wave which largely breaks away from the second is also self-refuting especially in our context, since if women can identify themselves with their ethnicity, then they can with their religion too.

A British-Muslim, Muhammad Hijab, in his exceptional work The Fifth Wave Feminism deciphers in-depth how the feminism of the West not only serves capitalism (as depicted above) but also men. Men? Well, since the enhanced freedoms imparted to women by feminism lower responsibilities of men, they are subsequently better placed to exploit women than ever before and it is probable that Simone De Beauvoir was encouraged by her partner, a male-French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, to continue her work for similar reasoning according to Hijab. While going through Hijab’s work, I was reminded of a friend in the UK who once wondered that people here apparently talk of gender equality but once they dress up for a formal occasion their men are all covered, but their women are not! Is that he asked, was the manifestation of their equality?

Trigged by that, I too observed the society there before reaching a conclusion that the best way out of such social ambiguities is the word of God, who gracefully accords an “equality of value” within genders rather than “identicality in roles” (a futile pursuit made by second/third wavers), and that too well before Mary Wollstonecraft or any other feminist was even born. Thus, in these times of dubiety, it is incumbent upon us to open the Quran as these worldly theories may make us look “cool” but today they are self-conflicting and overtly defying nature as in the works of Judith Butler; and it goes without saying what fate God holds for the aberrants who defy His nature.

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Also, let us collectively fight against all layers of oppression; may that be men doing against women, or women against women, or women against men, by targeting that “vice” and not the “gender”, for this is the ultimate path towards a prosperous society and not the one taken by a handful of “feminists” that are detrimental to our social and religious fabric. A Pakistani poet Nadeem Bhabha in the following lines rightly wishes for us something I reiterate today.

Yeh log jaa to rahay hain naya zamane mein

 Dua karo inhain raasta samaj main aajaye 

(These people are going into the world

Pray that they understand the path)

Syed Sarim Fatmi
The writer can be reached at [email protected]

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