Why the ‘lol’? Not because I take my beliefs lightly but because, if you want to be a feminist in India, you have to be chill. You are going to have a lot of people in your face and a whole lot of extra goading if they realize you loose your cool.
Growing up in a semi-orthodox family I went through a phase where not a week would go by, without calling my dad a ‘sexist’. Name calling doesn’t change opinions, nor does it win arguments, I have learnt.
There are jerks and gender roles everywhere, being a feminist isn’t easy. In India, where gender roles are given meaning and actually justified, it becomes so much more difficult. I have parents who genuinely believe that gender roles exist for our benefit and that the “old way” was the perfect one. Yes, my working mom too. This is an oh-so-good argument I hear often, “That’s the difference between stainless steel and gold kanna, you only lock up gold, because it’s so much more precious” and thus locking up women is made to sound almost rational. WRONG. What if the gold wants to have fun too? or how about the fact that you can’t actually equate a whole gender to a METAL?! If you’re going to give an analogy, try one where ‘people’ are involved. But no, you think this argument is preposterous, you should hear about the other stuff we do!
I saw an interesting video of Vishaka Hari, a chartered accountant who’s into spiritual discourses. She said that the concept of women’s liberation is a western one and that it’s unnecessary in India. We treat our women with reverence, and respect.Heck, we worship them. She said that women take their husbands’ names beside theirs after marriage but our male gods did it the other way. Radhe Krishna, Lakshmi Narayana, and so on. She said we didn’t need liberation if we just follow our ancient vedic ways. While it’s true we underplay India’s greatness, I don’t think we can entirely go back. Say we take the “old way”, would that be really wise? Yes, my grandparents have led a peaceful and almost perfect life, but my both my grandmothers didn’t study beyond their 10th std. Maybe they could have been professors or athletes, now we would never know.
The vedic ways. We can’t just selectively ignore all the cons. Women didn’t leave the house. There was no rape, probably because there was no woman on the street after 6. Whether we like it or not, globalization happened and it’s here to stay. We can’t walk backwards. Times have changed, women are contributing to the nation’s development. let’s focus on solving the problem instead of pressing ctrl+z.
The problem is that ’empowerment’ is deemed as a western concept, something that if an Indian woman exhibits, is seen as a show of arrogance.”‘How dare she goes out at 12 in the night, with a guy? It’s her fault she got raped.” Except a handful of cases, I hear this line for almost every other rape case. Victim blaming gets me so enraged, I want to scream and bang my head against a wall but I know that I still can’t change the way people think. Yes,we worship female forms but if a girl dares to go out at night, she’s clearly asking for it. She’s all yours, men. Despite education, laws, punishment and DEVELOPMENT, the fact that a man feels entitled to a woman just because she was out late or that she was drunk or alone is sickening.
It’s sickening? Deal with it. If you’re a woman, you have to deal with a lot more. This is what we’re taught. From a very young age, we’re taught that we have to be tolerant and submissive, cautious and scared because biology played a cruel joke on us. Yes, prudence never hurt but it has to be conflated with an actual solution. Are we ready to change the way we think?
The Indian mindset has come a long way, but there is still a longer way to go. Changes don’t happen overnight, this one isn’t any different.