So, after a couple of drinks down, when one tends to think of how one’s life has been till now and whether one has done justice to their skills, here I’m, faced with a question by my close friend, “so Sonam, what is feminism according to you?”
All I could reply was, “Feminism is a state of mind. It’s a way you live your life. I’m proud to be a feminist. I may not be a true feminist, maybe just a feminist by convenience, but I wouldn’t hesitate to stand by the right of a woman, a girl, a lady, any female, to live her life as any other ordinary citizen of this country. That’s feminism for me.
If I’m smoking a cigarette in an auto, and if my auto is waiting at a signal, aligned to another auto next to us, and if that auto-driver smirks at me, I wouldn’t hesitate to ask him ‘What’s wrong?’ till he feels uncomfortable and looks away. If I’ve a cigarette in my hand, and I’m walking on the road, and somebody decides to shake his / her head in disapproval, I wouldn’t hesitate to walk up to that person and ask, ‘Would you do the same if a man was smoking instead of a woman??’
This is feminism for me. Not that I say that smoking publicly would liberate a woman!! No. Feminism, for me is about equal rights for a man and woman.
Why is that if a woman decides to walk back home at 12’o clock in the night, there would be many to ridicule her, but in the same situation, if a man is to walk back home at 12’o clock in the night, there would be nobody to even blink an eye. Why!!!
Abolishing this inequality is feminism for me.
What happened to that just-another-regular-girl-in-Delhi in December was brutal. No second thoughts. Not that this was the first rape of our country. That this would be last is beyond consideration. I did cry when I read the first report about her. Stone-hearted if you may call me, I wasn’t emotional about it later on. But yes, I did cry initially. And I have no shame in admitting it. Having gone through something similar, at the age of seventeen, though mild compared to what she had to go through, yes, I did cry.
I cried because now, we were of the same age. She was just like me, with dreams, hopes and aspirations. You, as my friend, reading this outburst in words, how would you feel if I would have been in her place in that bus? How would you feel if the next morning you tried to call me and found out that I had to go through such a heinous act by mankind just a mere twelve hours back? How would you feel?
That feeling is feminism for me.
What did she do wrong? What was wrong if she was with a guy at around 10’o clock in the night. What was wrong is she was alone in the night with a man?? What was wrong? Was that her only crime, for which she had to go through such a severe punishment?
Again, she is not the first one, nor would she be the last one.
But seriously my friend, what was her crime!!!!
Six men, on a single woman. Imagine the pain of the man she was with. He tried with all his might and strength to protect her, but he failed. Now, he’s alive and she’s dead.
Imagine the loss.
Imagine the loss and the pain. Imagine the loss of all the dreams and hopes and aspirations of a regular next-door-girl. Seriously, what was her fault, what was her crime?
Was it that she refused to be put down by a group of narrow minded individuals?? That she kicked and bit and scratched them with her last bit of strength?? Well, that’s what provoked them to insert an iron rod into her, rupturing multiple organs, too weak to support her life.
Imagine yourself lying down in a hospital bed, with ruptured uterus, intestines, stomach, and above all, the horror of what you have just gone through. Too difficult???
That’s what feminism is all about. The ability of a human being to associate a woman’s pain and fight on her behalf.
Talking about all these things takes me back to the conversation I had on my work floor. I distinctly remember the pain in my colleague’s eye, when she was screaming at the top of her voice, with all her tiny frame, teary-eyed, letting out the indignation of what another female had to go through. I remember her statement, when another colleague commented that she shouldn’t be emotional about this issue, that it’s just another issue in our country. ‘No dammit, you don’t get it, she is not another statistic, she is an individual like you and me, and she doesn’t deserve to go through this. She is fighting for her life out there. She is dying out there. What would her parents be feeling right now? I feel an unexplainable pain when I think of it. Every morning, when I switch on the news, I feel like crying all over again, how you can ask me not to be emotional about it,’ she retorted. This is what feminism is all about.
When my other colleagues decided to participate in the protest, they did so not just for that girl, but for every other girl in this country. That’s what feminism is all about.
Yet again, most of us are feminist by convenience. If you would come across a worker class women being beaten up by her worker class husband on the streets of a cosmopolitan city, would you stop him??? I did, way back in Bombay. When others simply looked upon. And I feel proud on that. I wouldn’t mind bragging about it.
You dare disrespect a woman in front of me for no reason, and when I screw your happiness over it, that’s what my feminism would be all about.”
That’s all I had to say to my friend. To which, all that he could reply was, “Don’t remind me of this topic, girl. What I feel is something which I would never be able to explain. I just hope something like this never happens again to any other girl”
Above all, no matter what happens to the culprits, whatever happens to the diminishing protests, all I hope is, all the time, may her soul rest in peace.