In today’s day and age where female literacy is higher and awareness of rights is gaining more momentum, feminism in its true sense has turned into a jurisprudence or philosophy to back various movements to gain equality, respect and gratitude in the community by women.
Various issues in the last decade have been tackled with the backing of feminists and ideologies of feminism. The modern day work place history is laden with the gender pay gap. The constant objectification of women in so called progressive industries like film and entertainment has still to be rectified. From a woman being an accessory to a man, only worth the dowry paid for her to being the ‘eye pleaser’ for being pretty in cinema, women are still to gain recognition purely for their talent. And if they do so, they are deemed legends. A study in the pay gap of Bollywood recently stated that amongst the top 10 female and male actors, the highest paid female actors have a lower wage than the lowest paid male actor. There were changes made due to numerous movements where the highest paid actress in Hollywood, was paid 56 million in 2019. However the gap still exists and so does the movement.
In the modern day society, we like to brag about various achievements in the attainment of equality. We read articles and papers on how women are no longer prohibited from work spaces and how they are stalwarts in all professions, but there still lies an underlying form of oppression and patriarchy that’s disguised by the excuse of biological shortcomings in work. These are labels for women to biologically be caregivers and homemakers. On an average the wage gap in the US is 85 cents to a dollar for a woman. The Pew Research Centre stated at that rate a woman would have to work an average 39 days extra a year to earn as much as an average working man. These gaps in payment are justified by one simple factor. Maternity leaves. Most high-income countries like Switzerland, the USA and Ireland state that they have to women lower incomes as its compensated by the maternity leaves and lower productivity due to it in the workplace. This is where the new wave feminists have started the movement for paid maternity leaves and the narrowing of the gap to attain the equality in pay. With the term “mommy punishment” as their slogan, feminists all around the world have started demanding compulsory paid maternity leaves.
Another more recent feminist movement that has taken pace is one that begun with the 2017 #MeToo movement. During this movement prominent cases of sexual assault and “rape culture” have been spoken upon with victims of both male and female genders coming out and speaking against their abusers. What this movement did was, by all these women and men coming together, the structural norms of misogyny and patriarchy came to a standstill where every person feared partaking in such abuse. This movement gained traction when an article against all the ‘casting couch’ and abusive behaviour of one of the most well-known Hollywood producers – Harvey Weinstein was revealed in a New York Times article. This led to women speaking up against a number of powerful men, including US President Donald Trump. This movement boosted the feminist movement even more when on the first day of his presidency a Women’s March was organised that not only took over the American capital of Washington D.C but also all around the world where this campaign sparked over 3 million women to speak up.
Through these movements and via observing history, one inference that can be noted is that feminism works with a ‘domino effect’. And this ‘domino effect’ can be observed once evry few years where these movements lead to legislative changes all over the world as we had noticed through the introduction of the Protection of Sexual Harassment at the Workplace Act post the case of Vishakha v. the State of Rajasthan in India or the demand for paternity leaves and queer rights all over the world. We slowly see feminism gaining momentum in various spheres where it advocates equality for all including males and members of the LGBTQIA+ community.