The Future of Feminism: How I believe #MeToo and Time’s Up movements are reshaping gender dynamics
Proud to be a feminist
I am sure we must have heard of these hashtags and phrases too frequently in recent years. Earlier, many people labelled them as feminists without realizing what it meant to be a feminist. Let me tell you one thing: I was (and am) a feminist. I had struggled with the baggage of that term. Whenever I used to debate women’s rights, gender equality, and equal pay, either at my workplace or with anyone, I was met with one thing: a garbled answer that led me nowhere. The answers simply fueled my anger and left me seething.
But, with the #metoo and Time's Up movements bringing to the forefront the pervasive nature of gender inequality, sexual harassment, and sexual assault, happening in various strata of society, I can definitely say that both #metoo and Time’s Up are reshaping gender dynamics.
How do I define feminism?
I would like to call feminism a broad term that encompasses various meanings, depending on the context in which it is used.
For instance, for me, feminism is not simply a socio-cultural movement that proactively advocates for the rights of women. It is a phenomenon that can shape-shift to encompass a wider range of issues, ranging from equal pay, workplace discrimination, and reproductive rights to LGBTQ+ rights. I strongly believe that feminism, at its core, is based on the strong belief that all individuals, regardless of their gender, caste, creed, colour, or race, should have equal access to all opportunities, have the same rights, and enjoy equal benefits.
Feminism in the times of #Metoo and Time’s Up movements
I will not begin a lecture on these two movements: their origins, current developments, etc.
Enough has been spoken about already.
From the Harvey Weinstein scandal to creating a legal defense fund for the upliftment of survivors’ lives, the path of global feminist movements has travelled a long way.
In this context, I believe feminism has taken on even greater significance as people have viewed the issues through a new lens. Feminism, which has long been dedicated to simply vocalizing women’s problems and challenging societal norms, has been reinvigorated by these two movements. As a feminist, I strongly believe these movements will have a greater impact on gender dynamics and change feminist activism and discourse. As we look toward the future, we can see more questions about the future of feminism arise. As of now, we might not have a concrete answer to each of the imploring questions that are thrown at the faces of feminists. But there is also another burning question that needs to be answered in considering these movements.
The question is: how are both of these movements going to reshape gender dynamics?
Again, I presume, there might be different arguments with a single thought at their core, viz., feminism. However, here I am going to share my thoughts, which I strongly believe will play a vital role in feminist movements in the upcoming future.
How I believe #MeToo and Time’s Up are reshaping gender dynamics
Everyone agrees that both the #metoo and Time’s Up movements have sparked an immense cultural shift in the protocols (or may I say paradigms?) with which society has approached issues involving sexual and physical abuse, assault, and gender biases. These movements were successful in exposing the overall pervasiveness of society and galvanizing the masses.
I believe one of the key ways in which both movements reshape gender dynamics is by defying the traditional power hierarchies and strata that have enabled and empowered both violence and discrimination to exist. For instance, after the emergence of the #metoo movement, we can definitely say that many workplaces have come forward to re-examine their power disparities. Power imbalances often become the root cause of sexual harassment and violence. Many claims support this hypothesis. For instance, in 2021, the sexual harassment claims against the then New York governor Andrew Cuomo and his responses became a worldwide rage.
Likewise, the Time’s Up movement has exposed gender disparities and gaps in leadership positions across various industries in the world. It has been a firm proponent of equal representation of women, underscoring the relevance of disregarded circles in decision-making roles. Many workplaces have now become more inclusive and empathetic, and stringent workplace policies regarding harassment, violence, and inclusivity have arisen. Safety and equality at work are now being considered prominent factors when devising workplace rules.
To conclude, I would say that both of these movements have brought greater attention to issues pertaining to inclusivity and intersectionality. The voices of survivors have always been historically silenced and marginalized, especially those from underrepresented communities. But the emergence of both movements has given a new lease on life for the survivors by amplifying their voices. While there is so much work to be done, one cannot deny the fact that these movements serve as catalysts in the reshaping of gender dynamics. I feel that this transformation would revolutionize common beliefs and perspectives on gender discrimination and equal rights, constructing a cooperative, mutually beneficial environment for everyone.