Changing The Misnomer of Indian Feminism

Feminism in India

A few years ago I was returning home with a friend from a party at 9:30 pm. I was wearing a simple black dress which went till my knees, high heels and carrying a blingy purse. My friend was getting late so she dropped me at an intersection about a km away from my place.

The distance was not much really, but things had started closing down for the night. I must have reached a few meters ahead when 3 men on a bike started following me. I panicked and crossed the road thinking that they will continue on their way. But they turned around and came the other way.

I frantically called my fiancé to come and pick me up. He asked me to go inside a supermarket which was thankfully open. I thank my lucky stars everyday that nothing untoward happened to me. Needless to say, I got a huge dressing down from my fiancé for being so irresponsible! In retrospect, I was wearing something that was completely out of place in an area which was surrounded by slums, which is certainly not a good idea.

Conservative Thinking

In India, conservative thinkers have many “rules” which define the behavior of a  “good woman”. The most frustrating among them is blaming the girl for being eve teased or even raped because she’s wearing inappropriate clothes or standing the wrong way or luring men etc.

On top of this there are some fanatics who makes statements to the media like “It was bound to happen, women wear nudity fashion. They were wearing short dresses.” or “They tried to copy the Westerners, not only in their mindset but even in their dressing. So there was some disturbance, some girls are harassed, these kinds of things do happen.” Like it’s no big deal but needless, it is our fault! What they do not understand is that eve teasing happens no matter what we wear, salwar suits, sarees or western clothes.

This has led to a huge hue and cry about women protesting that they have a right to wear what they want in public and should not be shamed because of it. Young girls, the “feminist advocates”, in turn at times protest this thinking by wearing clothes inappropriate for the time and place, just to prove a point.

A Real Look at the Misnomer of Feminism

While I am a feminist myself, there is a very fine line here which is often missed by many. Yes, one should have the right to dress the way they want. Wearing western clothes doesn’t mean that you are a woman with loose morals trying to get a man’s attention. You are certainly not giving anyone the green signal to your body.

But there is also something called as appropriate dressing which is defined by the environment you are going to be in.

When I was in the night club I would have been considered conservatively yet elegantly dressed but on the lonely streets at 9.30 pm in the night I probably looked like an escort to those men on the bike in that location. Maybe, if i was even wearing a sweater or shawl I might have been overlooked, but on that night I was probably sticking out like a red beacon.

When the time comes for me to educate my daughter about these situations I will tell her is that you are allowed to wear whatever you want. I don’t care about the “aunties” who sit and judge the length of your dress but to always always be aware of the surroundings you are going to be in before deciding on your outfit.

Feminism has become the most fashionable word in the country today. Every time any issue pops up, out comes the “F” word. I believe that women are grossly misusing this word to get things they at times don’t deserve or something that is impractical. This is because most of these women don’t really understand what it means or stands for. [bctt tweet=”“Misguided feminism” is the root cause of confusion within women on how to respond to issues.” username=”contactrwc”]

Further Misconstrued in the Household

Another misconstruction of feminist ideals made is when it comes to doing the household chores. Women, like men have demanding careers these days and hence expect that the men of the house also contribute in the daily tasks at home.

This is quite reasonable. But in most Indian households, the mothers-in-law will judge their daughters-in-law for making their “Shona Beta” (Darling Son) do housework. The  feeling is that their sons are being treated like a servant.

They do not understand that the poor girl deserves some time off too. This rigid thought process in turn causes the women to rebel.  They take it to the other extreme by demanding that it is the men who should do everything around the house. They lounge around thereby throwing the concept of “equality” down the drain.

I want to teach my baby that equality comes when both the man and the woman change their perspective. They need to understand and respect the fact that they are both equally busy in their respective jobs. With mutual understanding they can share the house work respectfully. There should be no rigidity that a particular task belongs to a single person only.

So, What is Feminism ?

Fighting for equality when it comes to respect, voicing your opinion, demanding equal pay, is what feminism is about.

  • It is about making your own choices.
  • It is  about understanding your inner strength.
  •  It is about grace.
  • It is about acceptance that women are as capable as men are with actions.
  • It is also understanding that men and women cannot be equals in many ways.

Men and women and each individual has their own purpose and strength. If that is how God wanted everyone to be equal, he/she would have created a world full of only men or only women or vice versa. This is the lesson would like to teach my daughter and every young woman out there.

Do not be afraid of the misogynists that surround you. They are but a handful. The world is changing, and our country is changing too. There are male members of the society who proudly call themselves feminists (your father included).

Be a feminist, do not settle for anything less than what you deserve. Do not abuse this privilege and everything that comes with it. Being a woman is not a curse as many believe it to be, it is a blessing. Be proud of who you are and believe that you can achieve whatever you want to.

Changing the misnomer of Indian Feminism #feminism #indian #india #values #families #tradition

Shuchita Kumar is a new mom. She is trying to learn the ropes of motherhood with the help of knowledge passed on by the elders combined with modern thinking. Currently, residing in Bangalore, India. She spent her early childhood years in the heart of India that is Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. She then lived in Goa (heaven!) and Pune. A software engineer by profession, she loves dancing, bird watching and just spending time with her husband visiting various jungles. She also enjoys pampering her friends and families with delicious food and pastries

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