Feminism in India is as much as an expletive word as Mental Health is, often misinterpreted and looked down upon for its lack of understanding around the country. Not just around the country but around the globe, feminism is most often confused to be a sexist movement trying to create a world for women by oppressing men, killing the meaning of the word in its true sense.
To be true, feminism is a movement working towards equality of women, finding an equal footing in a world dominated by men and their archaic patriarchal views. While in some countries it works to empower women with a right to vote and freedom to work, in others it presents itself as a catalyst in demanding equal pay for equal work and liberating rights for reproduction, sexual preferences and orientations for women to establish their own identities.
It’s shameful enough to think that women need an international women’s day and the need to fight for their fundamental rights of existence. And, now they have to push a step further to get identified as equals in the society, staking claims for gender equality and women empowerment in a biased society. So, yes, I would say feminism is as much a mental health issue as it is a fight for liberty and freedom from the unjust norms ingrained in society.
The role of Feminism in Mental Health
We often forget that women have dual roles when taking on personal and professional life, compromise on either is subjected not just to external pressures of feeling incapable but also the terrible experiences of emotional and verbal abuse, sexual harassment, unending shame and ridicule and to top it all off, guilt.
Similarly, a woman’s opinion is looked down upon, forget being acknowledged and appreciated, and her needs- they are simply demands of a crazy person! Our history stands as evidence for this, numerous cases of hysteria being registered against women who didn’t ideally fit the “norms” of society, voiced her opinion and demanded her rights.
Diagnoses in Women
Do you really think anxiety and depression count as disorders that women experience for things that should be their moral duty? Contrary to popular opinion, it is! Women experience high levels of anxiety and depression, higher than men in fact and are subject to numerous experiences of eating and sleeping disorders. The worldwide reported cases of depression stand at 300 million, and unsurprisingly women double the number of men suffering.
Research over decades shows how individuals suffering from oppression have a direct connection to mental health disorders. And women as you know it have been oppressed for generations on end. You name it and women have it, starting with PTSD caused due to violence and abuse, stress, depression, anxiety and panic to personality disorders and well, the most looked down upon post-partum depression. Women suffer from a host of disorders that are hurtful to their existence, and what is even more hurtful is that it is subtly slipped under the rug going unacknowledged.
Feminism for Men
Men suffer too, we aren’t denying that fact, and it becomes important to highlight that here or else it would seem like any other misinterpretation of feminism and mental health for women. Highlighting the problems of women doesn’t mean men don’t suffer, it is never once a comparison but most definitely an attempt at shedding more light unto the shadows. A cry for equal rights is as beneficial for men as they are for the women as it takes a conscious effort in driving out the lopsided pressures of society.
Honestly, not just men or women, every individual irrespective of their gender and sexual orientation deserve the right to mental health and access to the right platform to reach out and seek support without any judgments. Our modern world is transforming to create a highly inclusive society, bereft of discrimination and stand on the stepping stones to basic gender equality, but we sure have a long way to go.
So, do we get discouraged and sit down hoping that someone will carry the baton forward as it seems hopeless right now? Probably not! A revolution doesn’t begin overnight, it needs patience and resilience to build a world that we dream of. It’s high time we step down from the high roads and judging people based on their labels, or lumping people into categorically divided sects that no nothing of a continuum. A multicultural approach that provides equal treatment to everyone in terms of the life that they deserve and the healthcare that they must be privy to is what we aim to provide as feminists, as liberalists but first as humans.
Be proud to celebrate your existence as a woman, go have that women’s day and show off to the world what an asset it is to be one in today’s modern world!
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