Defining feminism the right way – Work of a Shero!
Defining feminism the right way – Work of a Shero! | Credit: Espn

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Defining feminism the right way – Work of a Shero!

Nov 29, 2018

As we look around the present state of the society, it is very confusing to decide what the general status is. There is so much of change, transformation and metamorphosis happening right now that it is hard to put all this into any single box. In the process, many important transformations that are needed in today’s world get diverted due to miscommunications. For example, words such as ‘feminism’ are freely used and sometimes it gets misinterpreted and the whole movement towards equality of genders gets misdirected.

H.S.Sreemathi is a scholar in women’s studies who addressed the issue of miscommunication with respect to an important aspect of societal change – gender equality. She has published a dictionary that deals exclusively with words related to feminism.

The ‘Feminist Dictionary’ is not a conventional dictionary that just offers plain definitions and pronunciations. This dictionary delves into the real meaning of various words with respect to feminism. For instance, the word ‘city’ is a commonly used one and is used to refer to an urban dwelling space. 

However, when viewed with a gender-based magnifying glass, the word has different meanings and intricate nuances that get ignored in day-to-day life. Sreemathi notes that ‘city’ was a word coined with a patriarchal mindset and has undertones of meanings that convey that men are supposed to work outside their homes while women are supposed to take care of household chores. 

These are small things that people usually don’t take notice of. Yet, it is such common stuff that paves the way for the development of regressive mindsets. Such things make it even more difficult for women to break the shackles of inequality. According to Sreemathi, another such word that has gender-based meaning is ‘technology’. Sreemathi says that technology was advocated by many women as it empowers their kind. In a way, it gives control to women to make their own decisions. However, the real issue is that the people who control technology must be progressive. Therefore, technology can be either helpful to achieving equality or not based on who is controlling it. One example of such an empowering technology is the use of contraceptives that opens a lot of doors for women who have suffered in a patriarchal and judgemental society.

The highlight of the dictionary published by Sreemathi is that it is Kannada which is a widely spoken Indian language. While there have been many such dictionaries in English, this is a first in Kannada. Being a retired professor from Kannada University in Hampi, Sreemathi says that she took up this task to create a good understanding of feminism in the country. 

She notes that knowledge relating to women’s studies is very less in India, especially when it comes to finding material in regional languages. So, her book is a step in the right direction to solve this problem.

Feminism has seen a lot of change in the last few decades. Today, many women are able to choose their professions and have a career. Women are able to take care of the household as well as take on responsibilities in their professions. While it may seem like they have it all, there still is something missing. There is a constant pressure that women are still fighting. It is this pressure that people like Sreemathi are trying to wipe away by making sure that the constructs of the society are friendly towards women and are not biased. Sreemathi notes that the backlash that many women are facing with respect to the #metoo movement is a clear indicator that men are still feeling threatened and a lot more needs to be done to achieve true equality.