From time to time, my friends are mortified of me. In my presence, they are not allowed to call women ‘chicks’ (so does that make a man a ‘cock’?), I object to ‘balls’ being used to imply strength and ‘vaginas’ to denote weakness (we all know it is the other way around) and if anyone so much as suggests that I shouldn’t step out late in the night (because I live in Delhi and my mere presence would trigger the dormant sexual needs of the city’s men), I tell them that in spite their ‘best interests’ I cannot possibly live my entire life in fear.
Yes, I am quite the bane of an inherently patriarchal Indian society. Leave alone the generic drinking, smoking, wearing short skirt stereotype, after being an extraordinarily soft-spoken adolescent, I have been slowly and steadily speaking out for several years now. Language is important. As a generation brought up on sloppy Indian movies where harassment is the only way to win a girl over, how do we even begin changing this narrative wherein a woman’s response to physical abuse is, ‘I am not scared of a slap, but I am scared of love’?
I have been told at times that I take things too seriously - “Array, it was just a joke. Please don’t go all feminist on me now.” Or if someone watches a film with women protagonists or reads an article where misogyny is being discussed, I am immediately advised to check it out. “You are a feminist and you haven’t watched the film Pink? How is that even possible?”
So, anyone who is apprehensive of embracing the other ‘F’ word, here’s the breakdown. Feminism is advocating for a world where all genders would be treated equally. And if you think we don’t need feminism, let’s look inside our homes. Why is the kitchen only a woman’s department? Why do our parks still mostly have young boys playing sports? Why do some Indian ads still badger on the idiotic idea that a woman’s entire purpose in life is to keep buying things and swiping her husband’s credit cards?
To address a problem, we need to pinpoint a problem. Hence, the term ‘humanist’ or ‘equalist’ doesn’t come even close to capturing the discrimination women have faced over centuries.
Feminists don’t burn bras (I mean, have you seen how expensive they are!). Feminists don’t hate men. We realise the insane pressure which is even inflicted on men to succumb to gender roles - don’t cry, don’t wear pink, always make the first move, always pay for your date etc.
Day 51: Our search history says a lot about where we're at with gender equality. We've got a long way to go. #100DaysOfFeministAds #the100dayproject (FYI: this isn't the exact search results that pop up when you search that term...I took some creative liberties) .... ... .. EDIT: So the Axe ad that's pretty much this exact same concept has been brought to my attention. I truly had never seen it before. 😬The last thing I want to do is copy the creative ideas of others, but sometimes it happens unknowingly. My apologies and props the the axe team for standing up for this important issue. ➡️https://youtu.be/0WySfa7x5q0
At the risk of being misconstrued as angry, defensive, on the edge, is there an easy way to be a feminist?
The answer is no. There is no instruction manual, no YouTube video, no magic pill which will lead us to a collective enlightenment. But once we come face-to-face with a problem, which directly or indirectly affects us, what good would it do to walk away without even trying?
As Nigerian author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie had once said, “Gender, as it functions today, is a grave injustice. I am angry. We should all be angry. Anger has a long history of bringing about positive change. But I am also hopeful because I believe deeply in the ability of human beings to remake themselves for the better.”