Freedom of expression is the openness of communication that includes the right to be free without deliberately causing harm to another. It is one of the many subsets that come under the category of gender equality and feminism.
Women should be allowed to wear short skirts and dresses without it being met with criticism and a reason for them to be victimized in any degree.
In 2016, the remark made by Mahesh Sharma, the union tourism and culture minster of India was met by angry speculation. He discouraged foreign female visitors from wearing short skirts and dresses in India stating that the western culture is different from the culture in India. It is true that one must respect culture and tradition in any form and country but it shouldn’t overlap with freedom of expression of an individual. These two factors should remain independent of each other.
A woman, living in India, in the Middle East or in the United States of America should be allowed to not only wear what she wants but also to get an equal say in matters concerning her without being pressured by a third party.
Society intentionally or unintentionally tends to pressure women to look a certain way or dress accordingly instead of being accepting in the first go.
As reports of crime rates fall, Delhi still reports around 6 rape cases per day. Four years prior to this report, the Nirbhaya case shook the very foundation of the country leading to The Criminal Law (amendment) in the legislative system. Sadly this law does not provide protection for women against marital rape. The statistics for marital assault is 40 times more than those women who are attacked by unknown men in India. The Nation Crime records Bureau of India stated that 92 women are raped on a daily basis.
Many political leaders blame the victim based on what they wear and where they go.
Is short skirts the issue politicians should raise or is it the misogynistic behavior of men, the patriarchal system persisting, mind-set and caste system that should be talked about?
Although there is more awareness, legislative changes, a bigger platform for voicing opinions and better security in India the main rock is yet to be moved. The real challenge faced by the nation is to integrate this into the social realm of India.
According to Indian history, women are portrayed as submissive, vulnerable, serving and weak. The perception of women is engraved at a young age. Modifying those young perceptions in favour of equality and respect will lead to a wide spread acceptance movement.
Maybe a woman’s apparel could be a reason for extreme acts against them but there is very little evidence to support that theory. CNN reports (2016) that 94% of the rape crimes in India are committed by men who already knew the women. There is little or no legal protection against marital rape.
Even if a woman wears dresses, sarees, burkhas and short tops she is not a victim of these activities due to her clothes. If she were a victim due to her clothes and freedom of movement then all countries would issue a ‘Ban certain apparels for women and other restrictions’.
Freedom of expression is for everyone. Including the men. They are allowed to show emotions, they are allowed to not be macho and they are allowed to love the colour pink without seeming to ‘girly’.
Men and women need to both understand and respect one another as they are two different sides, but they belong to the same coin. One cannot deny the basic fact that they are both human.
Human. That is the sole reason why feminists fight for human rights.
Feminism is the sole belief that women should have social, political and economic equality of the sexes.
A few myths created about feminism are that women are superior to men, are anti-men or too strongly opinionated and aggressive which is a grave misconception
The campaign supporting women does not strive for a gladiator war of ‘Men vs women’ but strives for the complete implementation of ‘Men and women’ getting equal rights and opportunities.
United Nation Campaigns like HeForShe support gender equality. Indian NGOs like Development Support Team empower women in Maharashtra. The unity shown for equal pay, equal work and equal opportunities is truly an amazing! From no voting rights to worldwide awareness, women have come a long way but ‘Feminism’ and ‘Gender equality’ in India is faced with complexities as it extends across different classes, castes, and urban and rural areas. Breaking “the glass ceiling” will not be an easy task.
Freedom of expression and Feminism, are interlaced. Both are dependent on one another. Malala Yousifzai is an inspirational girl who stood for girls getting quality education. She got shot and still has not changed her viewpoints. Hilary Clinton and Emma Watson are inspiration women who promote gender equality worldwide. They are feminists as well as freedom of expression promoters’.
Freedom of expression and feminism is a feat but still is met by hostility today. Society at times creates social boundaries for people and limits their thinking. Regular talks regarding equality and respect should be made mandatory in schools from time to time. Laws need revision and cooperation amongst all. Like Maya Angelou said without love and respect we slowly die.
In an ideal world, the stage of the world belongs to both men and women as equals’, both allowed the freedom of expression. Victims are not blamed for crimes based on clothing. Apt legislative laws, open mindedness will increase security for women and social acceptance will usher the world into a Golden age. Hamlet’s treatment of women will become history and a new act, scene one will begin.