Women Lead
March 10, 2021

5 Patriarchy Alerts to Show Why We Still Need Feminism

Do we really need feminism today? These five patriarchy alerts will answer this question.

by Dr. Sonia Vashishta Oberoi
English
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Do we really need feminism today? The answer to this question is as elusive as the question itself, but let’s try once again.

If you ask this question from the women of elite and upper middle class, they will say that feminism is not needed anymore. It is all done. It is over. Women are already free to do whatever they want. They are working. They are heading the business houses. The glass ceiling is broken. They wear whatever they want to. They ogle at men lustfully. They live alone in big cities. They go for blind-dates and one-night-stands. They marry whenever and whosoever they want. So, everything is cool with women today.

If you ask a man of any social stratum, he, after looking at you up and down, will also say that women are already liberated. Moreover, if that man is known for his sense of humour, he will add that nowadays rather men need some kind of -ism to protect themselves from career-minded, ambitious and multitasking women who are hogging their jobs and masculinity.

If you ask a woman like me, I will answer categorically—unfortunately, we still need feminism.

Yes, I agree partially that women are comparatively freer today to some extent, and that is the good news; but the bad news is that this freedom is limited, partial and shallow. Women are not totally free. The freedom we talk about today is more an eyewash than the general truth.

Let me elaborate and explain!

First, I will talk about the highly-educated and working women. These women are triply burdened and extremely illusioned. They have to take care of their family on one side and, on the other side, they have to work hard to cope with the demands of their profession. There is a third side of them – the gnawing guilt of not giving their 100 percent either to their career or to family. They have sleepless nights and tired days. No doubt, they have people to help them out, but what if they have to choose between the career and the family. Then it is understood that their priority should be – family. She should not have any qualms about it. If she does what is expected from her, that means sacrifice her career for her family, everything and everyone sails smoothly.

Also read: I Hated Being a Woman, Until I Found Feminism

However, the problem arises and the equality of sexes is put to test, when a woman opts for the so-called wrong choice – CAREER. The world around her becomes biased and divided again. The glass ceiling seems to be too hard to break. She is preached incessantly to think once again and make the right choice. Now ask yourself – Has any man ever faced this kind of dilemma? Most probably NO. (Patriarchy Alert No. 1)

Second, another heart-breaking truth of the educated working women is that they have the right to earn; but they do not have the right to spend and invest. Their hard-earned money is taken care by their husbands or fathers. It is an invisible and invincible assumption that women cannot take good care of the money they earn. REALLY? (Patriarchy Alert No. 2)

Third, I want to talk about what can be termed as gender-specific-roles/careers. Young girls are supposed to choose from a limited career-basket. Teacher, nurse, doctor, engineer, manager – OK. Lawyer, journalist, actor, painter – still OK. But what if a girl has that itch to choose the atypical? What if she wants to become an astronaut or a wild-life photographer or a private detective or a criminal investigator or a wrestler? She will surely face immediate opposition from her family and well-wishers. The world is not eager to see women in unconventional roles/careers. Girls who want to go for avant-garde options, they are discouraged most of the time. In some cases, women succeed to make such choices but only if an authoritative male member of the family supports them. (Patriarchy Alert – 3)

Fourth, I want to talk about the women of the elite class. They have money and they have class. They have all the comforts in the world. They are the privileged lot. They belong to rich families and are married to rich men. They look perfect and live perfect lives. They have a trail of servants to do everything for them. Their only task is to look pretty and talk pretty. They are the trophy wives. However, everything is fine till they conform to the rules charted for them.

Also read: 37 and Feminist: Here’s Why I Don’t Want Kids

But what if someone does not want to be a trophy wife? What if she does not want to placate the whims and fancies of her rich husband all the time? What if she does not want to be dolled up all the time? What if she does not want to be treated as an object? What if she wants to do something unusual and different with her life? Do you think she can do? I am not very hopeful. She would certainly require the permission of her husband. (Patriarchy Alert – 4)

Fifth, I want to draw your attention to the most vulnerable section of women. The underprivileged ones. The women who are financially dependent on their husbands or earn meagre salaries. Being a woman is the toughest for their kind. The happiness of such a woman depends on the goodness of her husband. She can have the chance to lead a life worth-living only if her spouse is reasonably good. Otherwise her life is awful. She is trapped for her entire life. She has no alternatives. The life goes fine for the women who have accepted their fate and are satisfied with their lot. But what if one of them is a rebel? What if she is not easy to control and tame? Chances are that she will be left alone and poorer very soon to raise her kids on her own. (Patriarchy Alert – 5)

To encapsulate – the women, who do whatever conventional and archetypal is expected from them, do not feel the need of the feminism anymore. They can lead a happy and contented life. However, the women who have a mind of their own and wants to tread the atypical path; they still have to fight to chase their dreams. The women who want to do the unconventional and the unprecedent still need feminism in their lives. women have achieved much, but much more is there to achieve; and for achieving that they unquestionably need feminism.

A Writer and Educator, Sonia Vashishta Oberoi is an Indian staying in Jakarta for last two years. She is Ph. D. in African-American literature. She worked in various educational institutions in India. Her last job was as a Professor in English in REVA University, Bangalore, India. She has published many insightful academic research papers in various national and international journals on various topics like feminism, Indian diaspora, film-studies and multiculturalism. She has also published many short stories, poems and articles in newspapers, magazines and anthologies. Visit her YouTube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/c/SoniaVashishtaOberoiPoemsandStories