Feminists in the Indian society are still looked at with a skeptical eye, like we are not real, or worse, we are real… and dangerous. They ask, “Why are you a feminist? Isn’t the society good enough for you?” Because being vocal about your rights and pointing out the inequality still rampant in the 21st century society is being ungrateful. You are trying to break the age old hierarchy that your ancestors built in the society. Basically, feminists are regarded as a bunch of men hating, crazy women. And men, if they voice themselves as feminists, well either they are only trying to get into the good books of women or they are women.
Feminists are questioned,
Why are you a feminist?
I think shouldn’t the question be the other way round?
Why are you not a feminist?
There are still households in India where girls don’t get the equivalent education like their brothers, where the birth of a girl is the saddest thing that could happen to a family, where more money is spent on a girl’s wedding than on her studies, where the girl has no say over when she gets married and to who. And you dare to ask why am I a feminist? Why should I be not? And all the examples I’ve cited, I didn’t take them down from a book or I’m not speaking of only rural households. I’ve seen them happen, right here, among people I know. I have a sister, cousin sort of. She got married off at the age of 24 or 25 (which is way too young, in my opinion, especially if it’s not with her consent). She had a baby girl last year and when we reached the hospital, we couldn’t see either family happy. Neither the girl’s nor the boy’s. The girl’s mother, in fact, went as far and commented, at least she’s fair.
Thank God, right???
And no, they aren’t some less educated or underprivileged people. Well educated and rich, yet the best thing they could say about their first grandchild is about her complexion. Why? Because she’s a girl.
Once I was in a public bus with two of my friends while coming back from college. A man was constantly trying to touch me although there was enough space in the bus for him to stand. When I shouted at him for that, my two friends standing right beside me pretended they didn’t hear any of the commotion. Why? I don’t know. Maybe because shouting at the man for his inappropriate acts would be shameful to us and not to him.
That is why feminism is needed, my friend.
People make big statements like, “Mera Bharat Mahan” (My India is great) but dare someone ask, what is the mahanta. They will hurl abuses at you, calling you unpatriotic and a traitor. And good gracious, if you are a Muslim, you’ll soon be branded as a terrorist and threatened to be deported off to Pakistan. Because a Muslim pointing out the loopholes of the country, they must be a Pakistani in disguise.
Now, you must be thinking if my rant is on feminism, why am I bringing such political issues in the article. But well, isn’t that what a feminist is about? Upholding rights of an individual? How can I fight for the rights of women but deny the rights of a person who is of a different religion or sexual orientation or is differently abled? What kind of a feminist will I be? That won’t be feminism anymore. That is pseudo feminism. My sister taught me that to be a feminist, you have to inclusive. You cannot laugh at ‘retard jokes’ or at the LGBTQ community and then declare yourself as a feminist.
Moving over to media, agree with it or not, but media plays a huge role in shaping the society. From the kind of shows and movies being shown to the kind of issues making headlines, they tell you a lot about the society. Our Indian television has been in a coma since decades. The same saas-bahu drama has been going on, on every channel, at any time. No, there isn’t just one drama being telecasted but all the dramas are basically the same. The serial will revolve around a sati savitri abla naari (a simpleton woman) who worships her husband as the God and her entire life revolves around her family and the kitchen. If Indian television isn’t the biggest agent of patriarchy, then what is?
Then, of course, some big personalities will come around every now and then, and make comments without thinking if they make sense or not. A renowned Bollywood actress said a year or two back that she stands for gender equality but she is not a feminist.She said she’d prefer if she is looked at as a role model, not a feminist. Of course! You are standing for gender equality. You ran the campaign of Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (Save the girl, educate the girl). How can you be a feminist, those men hating crazy women?
So, you see, it is not easy to be a feminist in a society where people pull a Gandhari and pretend to be blind to the real issues, where people don’t even know what feminism actually is and is not even interested to know it. But. But. Don’t shy away. If you’re a feminist (and you should be), then voice it. Say it. Out loud.
I am a feminist. And proud.
Don’t let the patriarchs shush you. Stand up for your right, for her right, for his right. Don’t let them tell you girls can’t go out alone, boys can’t cry. Don’t let them shame you when you shame them for their sexist comments or acts. You are a feminist and oh, should you be proud!