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Feminism in a desi setting

Fellow blogger and one of my oldest mates, apu tagged me on this. And she says we have good ole Ams to thank for it. As it is a tag, I'd like to tag my fellow fem bloggers - Suj, Dee, Premalatha as well as my fellow mommy bloggers - Mad Momma and Tharini, as well as Kishore to take the baton from me.

Right, now let's get started. What is feminism, exactly? According to the dictionary, feminism is the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men. Feminism in an Indian (or desi) context is a wierd thing. It is like Antartica - everyone knows what it is but no one wants to go there. To most, life goes on as it always had, as if feminism never existed.

Like I mentioned in one of my previous posts, I realised what feminism truly is and that I am a feminist only after I started blogging actively. Till then, I was going along with the Antartic effect. Having been brought up to be fiercely independent, I did not question my right to do things my way. I always thought that that was mostly thanks to my folks' outlook towards most things concerning self and sibling. But I realise now, it is thanks to them being feminists (in their own setting) that they could go with the choices they made, which in turn made it easy for me to go with my choices, my way.

But to many, this is not the case. I have heard of many, many cases where the girls were so 'protected' that many had hardly ventured into the Big Bad World on their own. S frequently jokes that I had a lot more freedom growing up than he did!

In that sense, I feel feminism is linked to your basic freedom as a child. If you, as a girl, are raised as an equal to your male siblings, then you (and your siblings) will grow up to think the same way. If, on the other hand, you are told right from the time you were a child that you must defer to your male siblings or that they come first, then chances of both sexes retaining this and forming a template to their lives, is very high.

So, what has feminism given me. Well, it has given me the right to be me. I can be my own person and not be defined as someone's child or wife or sibling or mother. I can be my own person, in my own right, charting my life the way I want. It lets me be what I want to be. Heck, it gives me the right to make that choice. It puts me in the driving seat of my life.

This basic right is denied loads of women across the country. For them, the alpha male has to make the decision - should they work full-time, do they stay at home,
can they do this or should they do that. Every time a woman is unable to act independently, she is denied the right to freedom.

In my opinion, feminism is synonymous with freedom. And for feminism to truly flourish in a desi setting, it is imperative for not just the women, but the men to become feminists as well.

Read Ams' and Apu's view points.

Posted by DesiGirl 11:08 am  


  1. apu said...
    Excellent. One thing you mentioned really struck a chord - it is important to start forming these attitudes young. Our culture not only assigns us specific roles, it also doesn't encourage questioning. When combined, it is easy to see why many people (both men and women) find it difficult to think beyond traditional roles.

    I am going to combine all these posts in one place somewhere...
    Kishore said...
    Mine's up.. Mine's up...

    The Mad Momma said...
    hey i did one of these a few days back.. does that count?
    desigirl said...
    Saw yours, Kishore. I am just tagging. I think Ams is keeping track.

    Yeah MM, I know the post you are talking of - I will ask Ams or Apu to link it.
    Svaha said...
    Liberated Advertising? The Exploitation of Women in the West
    The irony of women's liberation in western societies is a deeply imbedded form of mental slavery that is hostage to sexist advertising, a hugely profitable cosmetic (from gels to surgery and wire-bras to stilletos) industry, and the widely held notion of progress by "comparison" with the sorry state of women in the third world.
    Women are meek, servile, wretched, abused, the other/Eastern societies. In the West, they speak in a masculine tongue/harsh/gravel voice, they are "equal" to men, they work outside the home, they smoke, drink, take drugs, shave their legs and armpits in ritual fashion/fashion ritual, wear make-up their entire lives, wear restrictive underwear, and are made to sell everything from cars to razor blades through their physical nakedness. Now in the globalizing convergence of progress the mysterious separateness of men and women that constituted the most beautiful aspect of humanity is being diluted by Body Shop, an obligingly carbon-neutral guilt free removal of layers of difference and a plastering of organic make-up that will enslave all women as made-up gloss at the altar of those asexual objects, the Gods (Godesses?) of Equality.

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