Feminism, Poetry, Women empowerment

I Shall Not Be Silenced

To the men –
Cage me if you wish.
You can bind my hands and legs
But not my thoughts and ambitions
Remember that ideas are bulletproof.

To the society –
Condemn me if you wish.
You can insult and ostracise me
But you cannot close your eyes to the naked truth I show you.
Remember that our powerlessness is your only weapon.

To the fascists –
Kill me if you wish.
You can threaten to rape or destroy me
But my honour is not your slave.
Remember that the pen will always be mightier than your sword.

To the world –
Remember me if you wish.
But do not give in to the intolerant numbers
Who will throttle all those who question and oppose
Remember that dissent is the essence of democracy.

I shall continue to live till there are those
who stand up, speak up and are unafraid.
Your bullets can destroy my body
But cannot maim my spirit.

Rest in power, Gauri Lankesh!

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Essays, Feminism

The Poison called Patriarchy

When we come across a successful girl,  we applaud her family for being supportive of her. We appreciate that they have encouraged her to make independent career choices. They do not distinguish between sons and daughters and have provided her the required cultural capital to reach where she is today. But in an intrinsically patriarchal upper caste middle class Hindu family, how ‘free’ are her choices?

On one hand, she battles the society; its prejudices, misogyny, glass ceilings and conservatism. But on the other hand, behind closed doors goes on another strife that nobody knows about. It is the constant struggle between her and the patriarch- her father in most cases. The independent girl on the verge of womanhood is enthusiastic, passionate and wants to explore infinite opportunities. She is unafraid of making unconventional career choices. Marriage is her least priority. Yes, she is growing older, but she wants to devote adequate time to attaining her education and securing employment. Hence, for her, settling down does not imply getting married and giving birth to a child but establishing a career and achieving economic independence.

However, the fault lines begin to surface within the family. As the daughter grows up, the father begins to behave more like a patriarch. In this capacity, he has made many personal sacrifices for the family. He expects the same in return from the ‘ideal’ daughter. If he does not have an elder son, he begins to search for a successor and inheritor in her. He is in his fifties or sixties and wants her to shoulder the responsibility of the family soon. Her individual aspirations are thus often not palatable to him. He wants her to establish her career quickly so that he can marry her off soon. He is not against her ambitions but wants her to align them to the needs of the family, just as he did.

The patriarch encourages but restricts; supports but controls. He sets free but the strings are tied firmly to his fingers. The entire notion of a girl’s independence thus seems illusory. Her choices are seldom free. Time and again, she is reminded of her obligations towards her family. She does not have the freedom to decide her own life partner because the honour of the family is at stake and the norms of caste endogamy are to be taken care of. She must not delay her marriage too much or the best ones (read the richest) might be gone. Her Ph. D. or job can obviously continue after marriage also, at least for the sake of persuasion.

The patriarch, now tired of running the family since decades, longs to retire from his responsibilities at the earliest. The biggest liability to be done away with is naturally an unmarried daughter. He wants her to finish her studies early so that she can start contributing towards the family income. In the process, she can also pool some money for her own marriage and the education of her younger siblings.

The role of the mother is now reduced to that of a mediator. She has no say in any decisions in the family. She is stationed between the patriarch and his daughter who are both adamant. She is the one who negotiates, but her role ends at that. The father, now assuming the role of the patriarch is now distanced from his daughter. They no longer share the loving relationship they did when she was younger. The onus is upon the mother to convey his diktats to her daughter and convince her to acquiesce. She is often placed in an awkward situation when she has to inform the patriarch of their daughter’s resolve to stay firm on her decisions. She is the worst affected in the tussle. She can neither side with one nor abandon the other. She must remain loyal to her husband because he feeds her. On the other hand, she does not want her daughter to lead a captivated life as she did.

As the daughter overcomes one hurdle after the other, she feels victorious to have challenged the stereotypes of the society. She considers herself to be a rebel and wants to set an example for other girls to emulate. But the fact remains that she is able to wage a war against the society but not against her own family. She is confined by the family values she herself clung to since childhood. She is torn between her dreams and the expectations of her family which are actually those of the patriarch.

The victims of patriarchy are never women alone. The mother is helpless and cannot let her daughter lead the life of her dreams no matter how much she wishes. The daughter obviously is subjected to restrictions and control since forever, none being slackened even after she grows old enough to decide for herself. Amidst this, the patriarch also suffers as he constantly swings to and fro from this role to that of the father. Even if he wants his daughter to be happy, he is also tied to his authoritarian position. He cannot grant her any more agency over her own life than to live it as per his rules; rather those set by the society. He must reinforce his supremacy by regularly exerting power and control, even if it implies throttling the dreams and aspirations of his daughter.

Patriarchy finds its way from religion to society and finally to the family. It has ruined more careers than poor results or other unforeseen circumstances have. When we dismiss allegations of gender discrimination by casual remarks like “Things have changed now, we have daughters and we have given them freedom to study and choose their career.” the sexism is quite apparent. Why does freedom need to be ‘given’ to daughters when sons enjoy it as a birth right? Can their choices be free if they are always forced to put their family before themselves? Patriarchy fails to answer these questions. Empowerment is possible only when women acquire complete agency over their lives. Gender equality must be fostered in the family before it can become the norm of the society; it has to begin from the home. Nevertheless, the minds of men ought to be decolonized from the tyrannical regime of patriarchy for gender equality to become a reality.

Experiences, Feelings from the heart, Feminism

Short hair and an existential crisis

Let me tell you something about myself. I am twenty year old girl; tall, thin and usually dress in western attire. Not more than a fortnight ago, I got my hair cut very short. Short enough that I do not require to comb them. This is when my story began.

In the past two weeks, I have been asked more than a hundred times whether I am a boy or girl. I find this question completely baseless. What does my hairstyle have to do with my sex? Who decides the haircut I like? Why is it mandatory for girls to have long hair and boys to have short hair? Why can’t the society accept a girl with short hair as readily as it accepts one with long hair?

Unfortunately, it doesn’t end there. I am the only child of my parents. When I go out with them, people joke around saying “You have a son now.” They have heard enough taunts already for not having a son. Now people ask them whether they have a son or daughter while they look at me.

The point is that stereotypical ideas of the appearances of boys and girls must be done away with. Many of my male classmates have long hair. If they like their hair long, nothing else matters.

Dear society, I will keep my hair the way I want to. If you cannot recognize me anymore, I too refuse to recognize your stereotypical and patriarchal notions of femininity and masculinity. I am no less a female by keeping my hair short. I am and will always be proud to be a girl.

Feminism, Women empowerment

Ban the mentality, not the documentary!

The documentary called ‘India’s daughter’ that exposes the 16/12/2012 Delhi rape case, directed by Leslee Udwin, produced by BBC and supposed to be aired at 9 p.m. on Women’s day has been banned by our honourable Home Minister. Commendable, sir!

The documentary is a holistic overview of all aspects of the case. It demonstrates the grief of her parents, the ruthlessness of the convicts, the opinions of the Defense lawyers, heads of NGOs, High Court lawyers as well as that of the families of the rapists. It has been banned on grounds of its criminally instigating nature. The underlying question is- Will banning it guarantee a safe and secure India for women?

After raping a helpless girl and hitting her with an iron rod so savagely that her intestines gush out, what right do those beasts have to live? This December, the juvenile shall be out of jail, ready to rape another girl, maybe on a train journey this time! Why delay capital punishment when they have all the evidences against them and when they have confessed their crimes already? Why give them a chance to defend themselves when they gave the girl no chance to save herself? Why should we be tolerant of such psychopaths committing heinous crimes? Why should they even be allowed to be a part of the society?

Two years and three months- the case seems to be going nowhere! Simply take their lives away! What right do they have to live after they ruined a girl’s future, devastated her parents and made every woman in the country insecure? Deferring their punishment is nothing but providing an incubation period for more potential rapists!  What good is it going to do to the world? How is it going to foster women’s safety?

The rapists have not even the slightest sign of remorse on their faces. They do not even feign it! One of those makes absurd statements such as the girl is more responsible than the boy for the rape, giving us capital punishments will do nothing but force rapists to kill girls after raping; we at least threw her on the road alive are evident of how inhuman those brutes were! There is no point keeping them alive! Kill the bastards, including the juvenile! Who gave him the brains of raping a six years older girl, when he himself was of the ‘tender’ age of seventeen and a half?

Dear Home Minister, change your sick mentality before changing the nation! Tumhare rehte achchhe din kabhi nahi aaenge! Let every Indian watch the documentary and be AWARE! Let women learn to be bold, aware, courageous and never submissive to any hungry male! Let the potential rapists learn a lesson that they have no right to touch a girl without her consent, barely to satisfy their irrepressible sexual desires! The entire country will rush on the streets and kill them if they even think of it! Let the judiciary understand that IT OUGHT TO HASTEN ITS MESSED UP LEGAL PROCEEDINGS to give every rape victim justice! Let the country understand what a kind of future we are shaping for our next generations! Let the world know how safe our country is!

There is life beyond votes, Minister. The country trusts you. Every woman trusts you. Banning the documentary does not ban the crime, it only boosts it. Show your manliness and accept that there are ones from your sex who are not human at all. Take away their right to live and don’t be a coward!

We are with you, Ms. Jyoti Singh. We salute you for the fight you fought till your last breath. You will be an inspiration for all of us. We will never let you down. We shall spread the light you wanted to, all across the world.

It is time our politicians unveil their masks and rid themselves of their hypocritical attitudes. We are not fools to vote for wimps who cannot come forward in favour of the women of our country!

Yes, we are women, and we are not afraid of men! We are together against these wild beasts. We are strong and together in this fight for our freedom from the threat of such criminals!

Feminism, Hermione Jean Granger

If Not Me, Then Who?

An amazing blog! #emmawatson #respect

A Fashionable Approach

It is no secret to anyone that knows me that I love Harry Potter. I grew up reading the books and spent my teen years anticipating each movie. Hermione Granger was one of the first characters that I was able to connect with. She was smart, brave and determined. A female role that was not common in the other book series that I had been reading.

As I grew older, my admiration for Hermione only grew. The fact that Emma Watson played her in the movies made the character even more appealing. Emma is classy, graceful and an amazing actress. It wasn’t long before I started following her as an actress and soon I had seen everything else she was in. Amongst the Lindsay’s and Paris Hilton’s of the world, Emma’s good girl attitude was something that never wavered.

I have always believed that women and men are equal. I…

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