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I spoke of empowerment here but wanted to continue this conversation with you.
India is a polytheist society. One where we celebrate gods and goddesses alike. Yet when it comes to the place women hold in society, we often fall second. There were many times living there that disturbed me to my core. I could scoff some moments to childish folly but deep down even they laid the foundation for my moral framework – I knew I was a feminist.
I will be the first to say that I have grown up living a life of privilege. A life sheltered from the harsh realities that millions of women are subject to everyday. I was given a perfect education and allowed to chase every dream. But I never lived in an ivory tower. I remember an incident distinctly where a friend was being subject to unwelcome sexual provocation by a man she had to interact with everyday. And her fear of speaking up came from the way she would be judged. Even today, it is not acceptable for a woman (who is the victim in most cases) to come forth and speak of abuse. We – both men and women fail her. And here, I as a woman take greater responsibility, because oftentimes women end up being meaner and less supportive of each other. This is where it has to stop. We have to learn to support each other before we can hand off the baton to men to do all the heavy lifting. There can’t be a heforshe if there isn’t even a sheforshe.
I’ve often spoken to men about feminism. They tell me that whenever they choose to become part of this conversation, it eventually leads to male bashing. That to me is not what feminism is about. I am not saying one gender has to be better than another – this is simply about equality. The right to an education, the right to earn equal pay, the right to be in the workplace, the right to property, the right to speak ones mind without being labeled. There has been plenty of talk in the media about this lately – from Emma Watson’s speech, to Chanel’s runway show, to Malala Yousafzai, to Vogue India’s Empower issue. I think we are at a tipping point – where we know we cannot continue building societies based on a dysfunctional dynamic. We can’t have women abused or mistreated without men by default becoming abusers.
In the past five years, I have had the immense joy of supporting a girl’s education in India and have seen her blossom into a beautiful young woman. When we correspond, she speaks fondly of school and her dreams of being an artist one day. It doesn’t have to be grandiose, but we all have the power to make a difference. As Emma Watson rightly said – If not me, who? And if not now, when?
I’d love to hear what your take is on feminism.