Friday, 4 July, 2008

The Feminist Me

I guess I was born a feminist. I am told that all Libra women are fiery feminists trying to find justice in this unjust world and I am a true blue, rubble kicking, justice seeking Libra.
My first clash happened with my father. I remember when I was a kid an advertisment used to come of VIP Frenchie or some other underwear. Now they used to show a VIP Frenchie wearing man and a bikini clad woman drooling at that man. Everytime this ad used to come my dad used to say "This girl's dress does not make any sense" and I would immediately challenge him saying "If this woman's dress does not make sense, then neither does this man's...why dont you say something about him too?". We used to launch into a verbal fight but over the years I have noticed that my father has stopped making such biased comments.
Next round was regarding ghomta or ghunghat (women covering their head). Aparently my grandmother used to do it and my dad loved seeing his mother in a ghomta. Now I have a huge problem with ghomta. Why should we women be covering our heads? My father said it has to do with the concept of lajja (shame). Lajja? What am I ashamed about? The fact that I was born a woman in a traditional society? Sorry I refuse to be ashamed of my womanhood. Again I won the round and my father stopped such discussions. I tried remembering my mom ever covering her head and except for a few vague pujo bari memories I dont remember her ever covering her head. Sometimes I think my father used to say these things just to tickle me and make me fight with him. Because when I would get all huffing and puffing, splutter femminist jargons, he would smile at me, making me further enraged.
My suspicion got further reinforced by the way he and my mom has raised me and my brother--without any kind of discrimination. Ok sometimes I was positively discriminated and did not have to do certain chores cos I was a girl! Most importantly it was installed into my brother from the earliest time to respect women.
Getting back to feminist story in schools and colleges I used to have huge discussions/fights (afterall I am a true blue Libra, I can never ever resist a hearty discussion) with boys regarding this. However sensitive and sensible a guy is, the moment he hears the word feminism, something happens. Men treat this whole concept of feminism as some of huge threat like it is a beast about to gobble them up or something. In this regard I am proud of us women, leave alone hyperventilating at the mere thought of something, we live in patriarchy and yet manage to have a jolly good time, insipte of all the shit men throw at us.
When I shifted to JNU, I had huge expectations from it, afterall I was joining one of India's premier institutions etc etc. But JNU girls' hostel was a huge eye opener. On the rare non vegetarian days some of the girls at mess table would drool over the food. But they would eat only the gravy of the chicken/mutton/fish. I was really surprised. On asked they said "humare ghar main banta hain papa/bhaiya khate hain while mom and me, we eat the gravy". Now these are not goan ki ladkiyan. They are all LSR/ Lady Shriram College girls now studting in JNU. Next shocker was when a girl announced that she was pro dowry. Pro dowry? Yes otherwise she will not be getting any part of her dad' property. And another chirrped in " I can understand adarsh (principles)...but what if adarsh ka chakkar main mera shadi nehi huyi to (what if I do not get married while trying to stick to my principles)?" So much of premier insittution and progressive women.
I was interning in UNHCR, preparing an Afghan women and her daughter to move to Canada. This lady has had a really shitty life, nothing compared to what I have heard so far. She was training to be a doctor when talibans came. I will write about her some other time. Anyways I was accompanied by a translator, a young Afghan girl. All three of us sitting in the tiny counselling cabin on a hot, sweltering Delhi summer day came to the general conclusion "some men are bastards". This lady was speaking in Pashto while I in English, yet we did not have the slightest difficulty communicating this.
In my present office, we keep getting battered and shattered women (from acid attack victims to rape victims to victims of domestic violence). Each one's story is as heart wrenching as the previous ones'. Sometimes listening to them we wonder are men human beings or some other being?
Everytime I have a discussion with a man on this issue, he points out to me that all men are not like this blah blah. He too has been hurt by some girl. Now a days women have been misusing certain laws. But could any man please justify how so far for centuries men have been misusing all the laws ever made and how come no one ever protested???
Or is this question too feminist?


  1. Love the way you write!!! U shud write a book boss, maybe a chick lit!!

  2. yeah and in the book i write there would be no happy ever after endings...maybe my chick would go lesbian or maybe she would just learn to spend her life happily with a toy...wld this be too drastic???


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