Post-Feminism: Against Patriarchy Or Men?
“We are still not enlightened but we are living in the age of enlightenment”. These are the words of renaissance philosopher Immanuel Kant. It is a fact that renaissance was self-conscious and was a new dawn in the history of Europe that resulted in the liberation of reason from the tyranny of medieval scholasticism.
Likewise, with the dawn of 20th century, Feminist Movements swept across the new industrialised Europe demanding equal social, political and economic rights for women.
In this regard, Feminist Movements via women rebellion against the patriarchy marked itself as one of the inherited legacies of the age of enlightenment.
Basically, it was the consciousness of modernity among women who opposed traditions, modernity of bourgeoisie civilization and opposed itself as a new form of modernity that gave birth to the mass feminist movements. Today, we are experiencing the ‘The Third Wave’ of Feminism, which is also known as neo-liberal or hyper-modern feminism, whose demands superseded from the base to superstructure.
Sociologist like Daniel Bell predicted this crisis two years earlier before the dawn post-feminist discourse. In his famous book “The cultural contradiction of Feminism”, Bell asserts that: “The popular bourgeoisie culture across the world is on the brink of collapse. So, the contemporary scene presents some signs of possible revolutions”.
Then the question arises why crisis not revolution? The context of crisis is very clear across the global south, where feminists are not targeting the colonial indulged patriarchy rather targeting the agency of men. Whereas, the level of violence against the patriarchy is submissive while level of violence against the agency of men is at the extreme. According to Frantz Fanon: “At the individual level, violence is the cleansing force, it frees the colonized subject from his inferiority complex, from despair and inaction”.
But in the global south, there is a dilemma of true consciousness of Feminism, where half of the women population are still living in rural areas striving for basic rights such as health and basic education. A small chunk of urban feminists is promoting pseudo-bourgeoisie culture instead of focusing on the formation of mass feminist movement that must include a sound feminist intelligentsia, strong feminist lobbying, rural-politan groups and acculturation groups. Even in a country like America, the proper patterns were followed to mobilise the women to challenge the conservative patriarchal norms.
It was in the 1920, when the American women won the right to vote in the 19th amendment. Though, with the approval of women franchise, the typical American thought that the nation was done with the women business. But 50 years later, the revolt was stronger than before.
In 1961, it was Eleanor Roosevelt (the wife of late president Franklin D. Roosevelt), and Esther Peterson of the women bureau, who urged President Kennedy to establish the short-lived commission on women. Based on this commission report, that evaluated the level of violence, and finally the National Organisation for Women (NOW) was established. Thanks to Eleanor Roosevelt and Esther Peterson for establishing the political platform to promote the idea of women agency at the national level.
On the contrary, in the global south, which is still hampered with colonial-based patriarchal culture and traditional orthodoxy, the consciousness of ‘women agency’ is even absent among the feminists.
Hence, the fact cannot be denied that in the colonial times, the images of white women was socially constructed to protect the colonial power structure from the threats of native men. In this regard, the feminists of the global south need to focus on the post-colonial social reconstruction of women that confers the belief that “women are not oppressed by being female (Biologically) but by the social and cultural powers which generates the notion of femininity. Perhaps, the global south needs a new feminist ideology with new abolitionist and suffrage women agency that must target the power structure of patriarchy not the agency of men.
However, it was the surge of the concept of cosmopolitan modernity (one of the dormant legacies of the colonial rule) that gave birth to the existential crisis of feminism across the global south. Likewise, if we further deconstruct the feminism of the global south in Sartrean discourse; there are four major protagonists involved in the drama of feminism. The anti-Patriarch, the democrat, the inauthentic women and the authentic women.
The anti-Patriarch woman constructs a woman in the light of ruthless patriarchy. The democrat loves the women as a human being and demands the rights, but at the same time annihilates the woman in her specification as an agency. The inauthentic women either produces or reproduces herself through the gaze of anti-men and this in-authenticity is the outcome of the situation that perpetuates counter-discrimination.
Finally, then comes the authentic woman who either rejects or accepts her situation and does not seek the avenues of flight rather strives for the Feminist Praxis to generate new theories in order to challenge the power structure.
Consequently, in the age post-feminism, the global south needs the anti-patriarch and authentic woman, who should revisit the history of feminism to foment the feminist revolution. Therefore, the time has approached, when the feminist of the global south needs to revisit the feminist literature such as the “Second Sex’ of Simon de Beauvoir and “The feminism and suffrage” of Ellen Carol Debois. In a nutshell, the feminists of the global south must focus on the praxis to challenge the constructed colonial structure of patriarchy instead of targeting the agency of men.