The year 2017 is behind us, but the expectations from feminism after successful movements like #MeToo are still looming overhead. So where does feminism go after such a monumental year? Or will our biggest fear, that it will come undone in the year 2018 come true. Hopefully, if we keep up the enthusiasm, we can prevent that from happening.
The Raised Bar
It becomes nearly impossible for a movement or phenomenon to continue with the momentum of its success after a while, especially a revolution as gigantic as #MeToo. Our expectations for this year will have a hard time keeping up with what we achieved in the last year as feminists.
We have Commitment Issues
In India specifically, such revolutions become irrelevant faster than you can flip through a newspaper. A case in point is the infamous 2012 gang rape and murder of a pharmacy student on a moving bus. The entire nation came together in solidarity of what is known as the Nirbhaya Movement. It did not even take a year for it to fizzle out. Things might have changed a teeny tiny bit in all these years, but the harsh truth is that we are nowhere closer to our aim to make this country a safer place for women. The Lokpal Bill movement is another such example, where the movement lost its steam, and is now nowhere to be seen.
The prime reason for our failure to sustain the struggle for a movement, is that we fail to give them a long-term commitment.
We cannot afford similar fate for the feminism movement of 2017
This movement goes beyond calling out creepy and powerful sexual harassers. Women all over the world have come together to address gender-related issues like gender bias and gender-based pay gap. Even in India, more women are calling out the patriarchal infrastructure of our society and the bias they faced due to their gender. This change has seeped into both reality and fiction, with more writers, directors, actors, sports personalities and entrepreneurs endorsing the cause.
We can see signs of changes on the horizon. People want to talk about women’s issues. If at this point, the movement fizzles out or loses its steam, then all our work will come undone.
The conversation around Feminism – good or bad, should not and cannot stop.
The only reason we hope that feminism will sustain its momentum in the year 2018 as well, is that it is a cause of nearly half the population of this world.
Where does feminism go from #MeToo and The Silence Breakers?
The feminists need to continue their struggle against men who use and abuse power to manipulate women. We are heading in the right direction, with female actors planning to wear black at the upcoming Golden Globes Awards, as a sign of protest against sexual harassment.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. All we need to do is to motivate more survivors to come forward.
Feminists around the world also need to bring issues like domestic violence under the spotlight. I feel this cause is not endorsed as much as it should be.
A report by WHO suggests that nearly one-third of ever-partnered women (30.0%) have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
We must make efforts to continue the dialogue on gender-based pay gap, to make sure that companies and corporations do not use this issue as a filter against hiring women in the workforce.
Women need to keep men all around the world in the loop. They should not feel targeted merely because of their gender. Women need to clear it to men that their battle is against the social structure which lets many people get away with violence and sexual abuse. Feminism wants to put an end to the reign of such social practices and men who benefit from them.
Feminism has come a long way from being a satchel worn by progressive women, to a word which no one wanted to be tagged with a few years ago, to being the Merriam Webster’s word of the year 2017.
Like never before, people across the globe have joined hands and effort to make sure that we leave a more balanced and liberal world for our children. A world where girls and boys are taught they are equals. The road ahead for feminism is a long we have to make sure that we keep moving forward. Maybe the year 2018 will not be as monumental as 2017. But if we keep pushing, we will indeed attain equality one day.
Dr Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.