Being a feminist in India. Lol.

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.

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12 thoughts on “Being a feminist in India. Lol.

  1. I remember reading about that poor girl on the bus who had been out with her male friend. It was shocking. I couldn’t believe the lawyer (I think) had the audacity to try to justify the guilty parties actions by saying she shouldn’t have been out! Also in a documentary I watched, they were interviewing various men on their attitudes to rape and one had said ‘street children’ deserved to be raped and hurt. I’d assumed the media were sensationalising this, and it’s not that bad in India, is it? I live in the UK which has it’s own problems but women are more or less equals. I’m sure India is beautiful and most people are wonderful but attitude towards women, portrayed in our press is a very negative one and it saddens me to read your honest writing. I really hope things improve.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Media did sensationalize and unfortunately the Layer and the accuse were given a mouthpiece which they did not deserve at all. It was shameful for us Indians too to be watching them ramble so insensitively! I assure you, that is not how an average Indian, male or female think. But yes! There are people who still believe that if a woman is out after 9 or she’s wearing certain clothes or if she’s too drunk, or has too many male friends, she’s asking for it! Sadly we do have a long way to go but we’re trying 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes I wondered about the choice of interviewees, but then again the media love to pick the ones who will give them the best story 😦 Glad to hear it’s not as bad as they make out and there are improvements ongoing.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Great to read your post. I am a woman in India who had to face gender discrimination by men and not so united women who preferred to please a man than another woman. Good to hear when women unite over this. Being judged by women who behave like vehicles of patriarchy is most disheartening.

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  3. I love your post Appy! I am sorry it took me so long to discover it. This is an important piece and your anger and frustration comes through. We have to fight back and we have made a lot of progress. It isn’t as bad but of course isn’t so good either. As long as we have people who think like you I am happy our next generation is safe from a lot of problems we faced growing up! More power to you! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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