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PSEUDO FEMINISM: OVER AND ABOVE MALE COUNTERPARTS A CRITICAL ANALYSIS

Updated: Oct 4

Author: Avesta Vashishtha, I year of B.A.,LL.B from Dr. Ram Manohar Lohiya National Law University, Lucknow.


Pseudo feminism- Inequality- Superior rights- Prejudices- these are a few proverbs that have been revolving around in our country ever since certain cases of 'misunderstood' feminism have occurred. People claim that feminism is an ambiguous concept. Instead of calling it ambiguous, it is imperative to understand that this concept is being misinterpreted by some people.


The stereotypical cultural and societal practices followed in India make it vital to have women rights intact and a forward march towards gender equality. But can feminism be sometimes misused to aid an agenda that contravenes the basic human rights of the so-called 'accused'? And to what extent can someone cause "INEQUALITY IN THE NAME OF EQUALITY" in a democracy which enshrines 'gender equality' as a fundamental right in its constitution?


The Webster Dictionary defines feminism as "a belief in and advocacy of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes expressed especially through organized activity on behalf of women's rights and interests". Unfortunately, the word 'sexes' is frequently interchanged with its singular form, 'sex', and feminism is used as a weapon to cultivate an undue advantage to the female gender in various areas of life.


NEED FOR FEMINISM

A set of movements to defend women rights is imperative in a democracy like India, where women are still subjected to gender inequality. Instances of domestic violence, inequal work treatment, child marriages, dowry deaths, etc. can be brought to a hold only when voiced against by the stratum that suffers such discrimination. In 2018, The National Commission for Women reported 716 complaints of sexual harassment. With a population ratio of 940 females per 1000 males, India stands at 140/156 in the global gender gap index.


The Right to Education Act was introduced in 2009 under the 86th Amendment Act, but even after 12 years, almost 40% of girls ranging between the age of 15-18 years are not attending school. It is evident that the causes furthered by female leaders like Savitribai Phule and Ahilya Bai are not even close to being achieved, and feminism is essential for the achievement of equality among men and women. But the cause of concern in the current scenario is that can everything done under the name of 'feminism' be excused even when it has the ability to violate someone else's legal right?


BIASED LEGISLATIONS

With the advent of the feminist movement in the 20th century, protecting women with legislative measures became indispensable. But the amendments so introduced, have failed to promote a gender-neutral society and tend to put the burden of proving innocence on men. The rule of 'innocent until proven guilty' is defeated here, and numerous laws fail to provide equal protection of law to men.


IPC Section 375 (Rape)- Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code defines rape as "sexual intercourse with a woman. This section refuses to protect men against sexual offences and breaks the whole backbone on which feminism is formed, i.e. equality of genders. The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) proposed in 2020 that rape suspects be shielded against "false charges" by concealing their names until they are proven guilty.


The reasons behind false accusations can be feelings of revenge, envy, etc. According to figures released by the Delhi Commission of Women (DCW), 53.2 percent of rape allegations submitted in Delhi between April 2013 and July 2014 were proven to be 'false'. Men have to go through huge mental turmoil when falsely accused of committing such a heinous crime {Radhu vs. State of Madhya Pradesh (2007) 12 SCC 57)}.


CRPC Section 125 (Maintenance)- Sec.125 puts an obligation on men to provide maintenance to their wives, children and parents. Highly educated and self-sufficient women demand maintenance from their spouses, forming a vicious cycle of dependence on husbands.


IPC Section 498A (Domestic Violence)- In the case Arnesh Kumar v. State of Bihar {(2014) 8 SCC 273}, it was noted that Section 498A is more often than not used as a weapon rather than shield by disgruntled wives.


The damage caused because of the laxity of law should not be termed as 'collateral'. The after-effects of false include a tarnished public image, psychological unrest, negative career consequences, etc.


ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY TAINTING THE THEORY

In the 20th century, Bollywood and other entertainment sources were inclined towards portraying the male protagonist as the centre of the world, and women as mere accessories. Fortunately, this prejudiced storyline is changing in today's era, and filmmakers now do not mind making women-centric movies. Movies like Pink, Piku, Neerja, etc. were successful in portraying self-supported women who did justice to the gender-neutral principle of feminism. But at the same time, movies like 'Veere Di Wedding' portray women who curse, drink, smoke in the name of feminism. It is a woman's choice to drink or smoke, but the movie actually focuses on justifying these negative aspects (which are bad for both men and women), instead of touching the actual problems faced by women in real life.


Feminism stands for positive equality of rights and does not give reasoning to a habit like drinking. The entertainment industry sometimes tends to further the unhealthy features of society in an attempt to portray a progressive woman.



LUCKNOW GIRL CAB DRIVER CASE

On 31st July 2020, a girl in Lucknow was witnessed slapping a man 22 times. The startling aspect of this incident was that the police, in the first instance, took action against the victim. The girl, in her defence, said that the boy had ‘almost’ hit her with a car. Even though the girl committed the actual crime of assault, the victim was subjected to punishment. This case received a lot of backlashes, demanding punishment against the girl. But it was only after a week that the police filed an FIR against her. This incident depicts the legal framework’s disparity between men and women, which apparently does not believe that all crimes are crimes.



CONUNDRUMS IN EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS

Many prestigious institutes like IITs and NLUs have started providing reservations for women. This is definitely a step in the right direction (achieving educational equality). But this reservation is also being provided in states that show tremendous improvement in overall literacy levels over the years. The major factors behind girls not securing seats through merit lists are societal stereotypes like preference given to boy children, mobility constraints, etc. These problems cannot be solved by reservation, instead, these institutions can include more women by providing free remedial classes for them.


CONCLUSION

The only solution to the above-mentioned problems is understanding the difference between feminism and pseudo-feminism. Feminism is simply a theory that advocates a gender-neutral

society where every gender is treated equally, inclined towards providing those rights to women which were earlier the privileges that only men enjoyed. Whereas, pseudo feminism is a negative term that aims at securing rights over and above that of their male counterparts, sometimes by demeaning men. The legislative framework should be amended to provide equal protection of law to women, as well as men. Tolerance should be practised by everyone so that no person is deprived of his/her fundamental rights. We should focus on achieving an environment where no female is deprived of the positive opportunities that any person exploits to thrive. It is essential to respect the other genders and not concentrate on the supremacy of any one stratum of society.


BIBLIOGRAPHY

  1. Definition of feminism.” Merriam Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/feminism. Accessed 22 august 2021.

  2. “Ranked 140 of 156 countries, India slips 28 spots in WEF’s global gender gap report.” Indian Express, 1 April 2021,https://indianexpress.com/article/india/ranked-140-of-156-countries-india-slips-28-spots-in-wefs-global-gender-gap-report-7253575/.

  3. Gohain, Manash. “40% of girls aged 15-18 not attending school: Report.” Times of India, 25 Jan 2020, https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/40-of-girls-aged-15-18-not-attending-school-report/articleshow/73598999.cms#:~:text=NEW%20DELHI%3A%20Ten%20years%20after,classroom%2C%20according%20to%20status%20report

  4. “Section 375 in The Indian Penal Code.” Indian Kanoon, https://indiankanoon.org/doc/623254/.

  5. “NHRC study recommends protecting rape accused from ‘false cases’ till found guilty.” Hindustan Times, 27 October2020,https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/nhrc-study-recommends-protecting-rape-accused-from-false-cases-till-found-guilty/story-WDKegC6e1EZkpqtIeCJogN.html.

  6. “Woman files false rape complaint against neighbour in UP's Ghaziabad, fined Rs 20,000.” India Today, 31 Jan 2021, https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/woman-files-false-rape-complaint-against-neighbour-in-up-s-ghaziabad-fined-rs-20-000-1764533-2021-01-31.

  7. (2007) 12 SCC 57)

  8. (2014) 8 SCC 273