People sometimes wonder why I call myself a feminist. They wonder how I came to become one. I was a feminist long before I knew the term for it. Because I was born in a country that hates women. I was born in India. Believe me, it’s not a stretch to use the word ‘hate’. How else do you explain a statement like this:
We have the best culture. In our culture, there is no place for a woman.
Yes, my dear readers. This was a recent statement in an upcoming documentary by an Indian lawyer ML Sharma. He was the defence lawyer for the arseholes who gang-raped Jyoti Singh in 2012. One of these fucking rapists also had the audacity to blame Jyoti for the rape in this documentary. This is what is wrong with India. This is the misogyny that exists in so many patriarchal societies.
I grew up learning how as girls, we were responsible for everything that happened to us. If a family had money problems, it was because the daughter or the wife was bad luck. If a girl had her period, she was banished from areas such as the kitchen or the prayer room and not allowed to touch certain things for fear of making them impure with her touch. I grew up learning that I was wrong to wear shorts and get dirty playing cricket or soccer with the boys. I learnt that girls couldn’t play sports. I learnt that as a girl, I had to always serve others and be submissive. I learnt that my big mouth and my oppositional behaviour would not be tolerated by my in-laws. But most importantly, I grew up learning that as a girl, and later a woman, I was responsible for being groped, touched or even being assaulted.
It made my blood boil.
I wanted to be a boy at a young age. Because being a boy meant more freedom and more opportunities. Not by my family but by society, in general. That’s how young I was when I noticed gender inequality. Without actually having the language for it, I knew that patriarchy was rife. And that if you were a boy in India, you were guaranteed a better life than a girl.
Sure, I was fortunate. And I give all credit to my parents for that. For giving me opportunities and not treating me any different than they would a son. But so many other Indian girls and women are not this fortunate.
They become a statistic. Like the 1 woman raped every 20 minutes. Or they become the subject of a documentary like India’s Daughter.
So to all those who ask me why I became a feminist, my answer to you is that I think women are human beings too. I think we need to be treated like we matter. I have been fortunate that my family kept me unlike so many female babies in India. I have been even more fortunate that my family gave me opportunities like education. But I still grew up in a society where I had to fight. I had to fight being groped on public transport. I had to fight to explain my reasons for my education. I had to fight to matter.
While I am no longer Indian and no longer in India, my blood continues to boil for the women who suffer there. For the gender inequality. I will continue to be a feminist till my dying day because, in the end, we women need to be heard. We need to matter. No matter which country, region, religion or culture we are born into.
I despise the patriarchal society. I despise the poison it spreads.
Yet, I hope some day women will be granted equal rights.
After all, one can dare to dream.
With International Women’s Day coming up later this week, please remember all the women who are being sorely discriminated against.
Image Source: Here
Until next time,