Yes, I’m feminist. And I’m Indian. And in my opinion, the two make a rather interesting combination.
The dictionary definition of the term feminism defines the term as advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes. Yet I think that given my culture and background, the term feminist takes on a slightly different meaning.
Because in my part of my world, being feminist also means fighting the additional baggage of culture, tradition, occasionally even religion. A community that practices paradox like second nature . Where an endless number of female deities are worshipped. Yet women are being abused in every single form possible. One which has produced no dearth of female leaders, yet where misogyny and patriarchy still prevalent. One which doesn’t oppose objectification of women in popular culture. Yet conversation around natural biological processes like menstruation and safe sex are considered taboo. And if this environment doesn’t call for one to be feminist, I don’t know what does.
My biggest reason for choosing to become a feminist was the understanding and appreciation that in this scenario, I was truly, genuinely, one of the fortunate ones. To have never faced discrimination in my personal or professional life. On the contrary, to have been supported by an entire army of men who encouraged, propelled and drove me to scale heights in my professional and personal life. And it is this sense of gratitude that drives me to be feminist. Feminism, in my opinion, is about fighting the social evils against women that exist in society. But it’s equally about fighting the internalized misogyny that lives silently in minds, yet constantly surfacing and displaying its murky self. It’s about believing that as a woman, you are capable of anything. But above everything else, it’s about building a longer table. About not treating feminism like some kind of elitist club, rather a collective sisterhood. Where both women and men acknowledge first, that a challenge does exist, and consequently working collectively towards uplifting women who, through some twist of fate, didn’t have the opportunities you did. Without being judgmental, opinionated or biased.
So yes, I’m feminist. And an Indian woman. And I will continue to be both. For both these badges, are ones that are part of my identity, and ones I wear with utmost pride.