Our society has evolved so much in the past few decades, in the sense that more people have finally opened their minds to allow the world to become more inclusive. History shows that we have indeed achieved some progress in society regarding equality, justice and freedom of choice. In honour of International Women’s Day this month, I’d like to share my insights on the challenging theme of feminism. What is the true definition of feminism and why do so many people have a false perception of the term?
The Google dictionary defines the word Feminism as “the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes”. Thus, this definition states that the concept aims to achieve gender equality, meaning to equate women with men. It is a theory of the political, economic, and social fairness towards women and the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.
The concept sounds simple and the theory of feminism seems understandable, honest and fair. Then why is it being perceived so wrongly by so many in this day and age? Why do so many dismiss its importance and disagree with the idea of feminism? And why have we reached a point where even some women almost hate a theory that actually fights for the equal rights and opportunities of women?
One of the reasons why many dismiss the importance of such a subject and seem to ignore its significance in our society, is because they fear that men will eventually lose influence, impact, and even economic opportunities, which in turn will effect traditions, religious beliefs, and established gender roles. Another reason is because they feel we have already arrived at gender equality. Some others believe that a continuation of support requires too much effort and is unlikely to lead to success. Many also feel that the feminist movement does not align with their personal beliefs or values. Finally, a significant reason for the ignorance of such a crucial topic is the lack of empathy, which in fact is not always ill-intentioned. Our views stem deeply from our direct, personal experiences. If one has not experienced a certain type of discrimination, one may even doubt its authenticity and reality.
However, what concerns me is that the seemingly greatest cause for this type of reaction is the popular association of feminists with forceful and angry women who have formed a certain hate towards men. Many people believe that feminists want to overtake and control the world and diminish men. They fear that feminism will have a negative impact on society and culture and in business, job and economic opportunities.
In order to avoid this association, it is very crucial to understand that “equal” does not mean “same”. For example, many argue that men and women do not contain the same physical structure and therefore cannot undertake the same tasks, etc. They believe that because the genders are not the same, men and women cannot be equal. However, what is meant by gender equality is for women to have the same access to opportunities as men, like to leading roles in films or ability to run for political office. A true feminist loves men, but also loves women. He/she strives to achieve acceptance and recognition of women in the eyes of our society.
Our society represents our understanding of the world through stories, and through these stories people feel empathy, identification, and at times, are challenged to expand their beliefs and views. These types of challenging themes can create positive change, but they may also form false perceptions, which can lead to intolerance and refusal to accept the concept. Therefore, these provocative topics must be represented with great mindfulness and awareness of the opinions and emotions of the opponent. It is also important, while doing so, to consider one’s own way of approaching the subject and with what sentiment and energy you are tackling the theme.
We possess these intentions within our hearts at Cinegirl. We aim to inspire female filmmakers and encourage them to believe they have so much potential within them. We continue to empower women across the world to be the best versions of themselves, and allow themselves to discover their true worth, which is equally powerful to that of a man.
Photography by The New York Public Library Photography and: Kheel Center