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Why India needs feminism

Lately feminism has turned into a negative word and it has weirdly enough┬ábecome somewhat synonymous with hating men, but that’s not what feminism is. Feminism in it’s entirety means “equal rights for women and men, equal status, rights and opportunities for both the genders.”

And feminism doesn’t just affect women, it affects men too. Not just India, but the world today needs feminism. But charity begins at home, we┬áare really in need┬áof it.

Not everyone is┬áprivileged. Not everyone has a car to travel, or a bodyguard for protection, or the means to protect oneself from gender based discrimination, may it be social, economic or otherwise. Feminism is not just about crying out loud about how life is unfair to us. It’s about change and what we do to bring that change. Mr. Narendra Modi, in his speech said something beautiful, “While you ask your daughters why they want to go out, ask your sons where they are going.”

1. Even when a woman is a housewife, she is criticised for wasting her education and degrees. On the other hand if she is working, she is deemed to be insensitive, selfish and too “set in her ways”. Must we live with the guilt no matter what decision we take? Balancing one’s personal and professional life is hard for just about everyone, then why do we women have justify our choices much more than men?

2. Clothes
On a trip to Paris the first thing I noticed was: No one cared about what I was wearing. No hungry eyes staring at my legs, no cheap whistle or mediocre dialogue, nothing. For once in my life I felt free to wear what I wanted, no one judged me for it. Clothes do not provoke the devil in anyone. It’s the thoughts that have been in there all along, irrespective of the clothing. The recent incident of Gauhar Khan being slapped for wearing “provocative clothes” was ridiculous and unbelievable. Learn to control your mind, not the length of someone’s dress. Respect comes from the heart, not the eyes.

3. Travelling.
Buses, trains and now taxis, it seems, are not safe for travelling at any point of time. The most recent case of a woman travelling by an Uber taxi who got raped had lead to shockwaves across the country. This was one of those modes of travelling we thought were safe, and now we┬áknow that even they as a reputed company did not have the awareness to check the criminal background of the drivers they hire? The Police and the Licensing authorities do not check the authenticity of the certificates. Fake documents, licenses allow people with criminal back grounds to┬ácome into┬áthe mainstream. It doesn’t strike the authorities that heinous crimes against women can happen in taxis and buses.

Slapping hard across the face or hitting doesn’t work, as shown by the recent incident when two girls were being teased in a bus and astonishingly not a single person in the bus helped. What are people afraid of? Will you only learn and help when it happens with you or your loved one? Is that the time you feel the pain, humiliation and helplessness? Lighting a candle for the troubled soul will not conquer anything in this world. But offering a helping hand will.


4. Recent feminist movements are not in vain. They do affect the society. A year back had someone eve teased me, I would be too shocked or even scared to react, fearing that I’ll only worsen it. But that is no longer the case. I feel stronger, and I know that my silence may leave me unharmed but could be the harshest nightmare for someone else.

5. Education for both the genders is very important. Even today, a lot of families do not let their daughters study beyond primary education, because “she has to get married.” We are privileged enough to have parents who do not discriminate between sons and daughters, but everyone is not that lucky. Education helps in all walks of life and in every situation, may it be for buying groceries, using a telephone, knowing your rights or starting your business.

Too many stigmas cause girls being labelled “bad”. From what IÔÇÖve heard though, the code goes: donÔÇÖt show too much skin; donÔÇÖt spend too much time with boys; donÔÇÖt stay out late; donÔÇÖt talk back; donÔÇÖt drink; donÔÇÖt dance; donÔÇÖt smoke donÔÇÖt make independent choices about anything including what should play when your phone rings.

And I am not implying in any way that men discriminate against women, alone. As they say, a woman can be a woman’s worst enemy. Quite often we as women forget to be sensitive towards the problems other women face just because it doesn’t happen with us. If we teach our children to respect a woman who is working, who has an ambition, who has a voice even if she is wearing a saree, a pair of jeans or a dress, the seed of change will have been sown and the benefits will be reaped by women all over. Blaming the women for everything that goes wrong is not going to change anything. It won’t protect our mothers, won’t help our sisters and definitely won’t teach our daughters that complying to the shackles of society is not something to be proud of.

The problem in India is the pride we take in having “sanskari betiyaan and bahu”. All we want to do is stay aloof, out of embarassment and the typical “log kya sochenge”. Feminism is not about how men get everything and we dont. Its about what we need. Nor does it mean that we think every man is a rapist and use the “woman card” to get our way. No.┬á But it does mean not being labelled weak, dumb or insignificant just because we are women.

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