For decades, the notion of women’s rights has been a hot topic. Between the haters, the protestors and the radicals, the concept of feminism has been misunderstood by many, thus, creating a huge misconception. Feminism by definition is the belief that women must have the same rights, freedoms and opportunities as men. It is the theory of the economic, social, and political equality of the sexes. It aims to interrogate inequalities and inequities along the intersectional lines of gender, race and sexuality. In other terms, it is a civil rights movement that promotes natural rights and civil liberties of women. However, the misapprehension of the movement makes its credibility quizzical, highlighting the delusion of it being a revolution against men.
Many are to blame for the ruinous dispersion of this fallacy. First, the pseudo-feminists who advertise hatred and discrimination against the opposite gender, and disguise their matriarchal dream in the name of feminism. Unlike what is believed, the core of the movement has nothing to do with male-hating. In fact, men themselves can be feminists. Just like you don’t have to be gay to support the LGBTQ+ community, you don’t have to be a woman to support women’s right. No decent human being will stand against the concept of fairness and impartiality. What real feminists disapprove of is patriarchy, chauvinism and male hegemony.
Several people are ill-informed and perceive feminists as bra burners, butch lesbians who hate sex and despite the existence of men. Angry, desperate women, fond of BDSM and who want to rule the world. Quite extreme, isn’t it? But unfortunately, this is what the media projects to its audience. A sickening image of a movement that enforces: social change and fights against social injustice. It is ironic how a concept that is extremely progressive and empowering, also happens to be one of the most controversial, – if not hated-, notions in the world.
In 1940, Akhawat Asafaa (the sisters of purity), the pioneers of feminism in Morocco, took the upper hand and emboldened women to step out of the oppression they lived in and to –peacefully yet strongly- revolt against the burdensome marginalization of the society. They stood against the traditionalist views of the status of women, fostering awareness, activism and freedom. A proof that the strength of a certain community depends on its unity. Although our country is torn between secularity and religion, women were able to rise and to leave their footprints on every march.
Women activists gathering in Rabat, 1950
Tunisia, the birthplace of the Arab Spring, has witnessed massive improvements when it comes to the status of women. In July 2017, the Parliament, took the lead and stood against violence and sexual abuse against females. The law took the avant-garde by annealing penalties against rape and spoliation, in addition to the removal of the ‘’ marry your rapist ‘’ law. Not only that, it also mandated indemnity and support for the victims and survivors of sexual assault, explicitly acknowledging that women, as well as men, can be raped and abused. A well deserved standing ovation for a country that seems to blossom on daily basis.
YOKO ONO: A Feminist Symbol.
Author of Grapefruit and music icon, Yoko is not only a multimedia artist but is also a peace activist and an impacting feminist. The 84-year-old idol is a living portrait of strength and devotion. In her 1971 manifesto, ‘’The Feminization of Society’’, she emphasizes the value of women and their role in empowering the nations. She also sheds light on the crucial energy of females and how society can use it for its benefit; stating that denigrating and abusing women can only be detrimental to society itself. ‘’Cut Piece’’, one of Yoko’s early performances, created a huge polemic, accusing her of objectifying and sexualizing the woman’s body. The sexual revolution was one of her battles. Fighting for freedom and body positivity; the artist wrote several songs and created art pieces to support the cause, marching and pointing the fact that it is very unwise to deny and ignore the woman power.
Yoko Ono, Cut Piece, 1964
Whether we want it or not, women’s issues are one of the most important talks in the world. Public ruckus and internet drama over the matter are inevitable, however, it shouldn’t mislead our attention over the real effort to achieve equality and gain freedom, both mental and physical. Feminism is not a trendy space filler for newspapers and magazines. It is a battle for individuality and equal rights. The essence of such movement is not just an escape from misogyny and male dominance, but it is also liberating ourselves from several mind trips and social traps, such as denial, fear and self-destruction. On one hand, feminism believes in the secularism of the institutions. On the other, it bans chaos and stands against violent riots.
The truth is, we need more positive contribution of men and women in order to make a beneficial change. As Abraham Lincoln once said: ‘’ Union is strength ». So the question is: Are you a feminist?