I am not a feminist, mostly because I am not very clear on what it means and what all it covers. Being on the wrong side of feminism will be a problem. So I will leave it be. History of feminism has gone through several rounds of definition throughout ages and geographies, needs a more thorough study to understand the world context and then Indian one.
I want to talk about women empowerment in Indian context. I understand mine is going to be an alternate voice, but would say it to gain a perspective against West’s idea of feminism.
We are young country politically, but let us not forget that we did exist before several invasions through the ages. As people, we have been around thousands of years, have been molded by invaders and rulers, assimilated them in our genes but still are here to tell the story .We have a vast history not just of gender but caste oppression ,religious biases and political gambits played out for vote bank gains. So the idea of strong vs weak and the debate around it has been as long as civilization itself.
One of my concerns is about the way society is getting polarized in several categories, including gender.
For normal aspiring middle class folks (around 300 mn in last census ), what career to choose ,what hobbies to pursue ,when and who to get married ,when to have kids , whether to pursue career after kids and so on are some of life choices women and men need to make . Some decisions are forced or involuntary due to social conditioning or economic reasons, but behind it all of us had a choice. Yes, if we chose one path that was less traveled, we had to fight more. But so is with men, of all categories. And I agree that farther societies are from education, more would be the struggle. It does not make sense to bundle all women issues under the garb of sexism and make men as common source of disenchantment.
In general women are much more articulate in putting feelings and emotions into words. Not too far back, we had freedom struggle where women were at the forefront taking out marches and shouting slogans when hit by police while their men were in jails .We have innumerable examples of queens and commoners who fought, yelled and swore in the battlefields of yore .They have fought and won for causes that were worthy of being fought for. What changed ? Are we viewing women empowerment in right context?
I have a problem with women being portrayed as victims. More than portrayal, I believe this victimization complex is preventing them from actually asking some hard hitting questions about themselves.
I do not think women need Women’s Day if there is no Men’s day .If we are talking about parity, let us make sure unrepresented sections of societies get equal say in all areas, regardless of classification.
This article was also published in LinkedIn.