Happy Women’s Day to all the amazing women reading this post. This women’s day our all women’s team of talented writers & editors came together to ask women from various age groups, cities, professions and family backgrounds one question.
WHAT IS FEMINISM FOR YOU?
Our Writer Sakshi spoke to two amazing women. Here are their conversations.
Rajivot Kaur, a single mother, a student of English literature and a trained Instructional Designer. She was working in the corporate sector which didn’t appeal to her creative side so she went back to writing. She shares her journey on her Instagram @shiningshower. Here are a few snippets from our conversation.
Sakshi: What is Feminism according to you?
Ravijot: It is a way of life. It is not something you can preach, it is to be practised. Giving and getting equal opportunities for both genders in every facet of life is feminism.
S: Do feminists hate men, as it is a very popular belief?
R: It is a misconception. Feminism simply means equality for both genders. I understand that over time Feminism has become a derogatory term, but only to those who haven’t studied feminism and struggled for it.
S: What about LGBTQ community? Should they be included in the gender equality scenario?
R: Absolutely! When I was younger, I was completely unaware of the LGBTQ community. But now I have had a lot of exposure. A trans-woman is as womanly as I am.
S: Is there any difference between views on feminism in women of various age groups?
R: I don’t think age has got anything to do with it. I have seen elderly ladies with flourishing ideas about Feminism and young women completely entrapped in the archaic ideas of Patriarchy.
S: Did feminism have any role to play in your single motherhood status?
R: The biggest! It is the axis I believe. A woman in our society can think of leaving her husband only if she thinks of herself as his equal. That is just opposite to what our society makes her think. It places ownership of women to a male at every stage of their life, be it her father, brother, husband, or son. Without these male figures in her life, her existence is questioned all the time.
S: Do your parents share your thoughts as well?
R: I am blessed to have been born in a family which follows a modern religion like Sikhism. I am even luckier that my family tries its best to walk on its ideals. I have seen my parents more encouraging towards my education than my brother’s. Yes, there are areas that we differ in, but we are working on it.
S: What are some concrete ways to make ours a gender equal society?
R: By being an example to our children. Gender equality is a very trendy topic nowadays, but it is also a very fragile one. Our children must know that them wearing pink or blue is not feminism. They must know that they have to work hard in life for everything equally. This was an educated working mother and her views on feminism.
Next Sakshi interviewed someone who is living in a completely different scenario and on her request we will not be able to provide a photograph.
Meet Meena, married with four sons, uneducated and does manual labour. After I explained to her what feminism is she laughed and exclaimed that these “ideologies” look good in books and not in real-life. Her words are loosely translated to English, “There is no time to think about feminism in my life. One of my sons is in jail for a crime he didn’t commit because the other party was rich enough to make sure of it. I used to work hard to make both ends meet. My elder son went to work with me. The two younger ones were in school. I took a loan from an affluent family in my village for a house. I had to take both my sons out of school to work in order to repay the loan. My husband is a drunk who doesn’t work. He used to beat me and the kids. There is no respect for a woman in such a household. Even my parents didn’t support me. I had to take the abuse and still work to have the house and put food on his table. One day I’d had enough. I took my kids and left. Now I am relaxed and happy. We don’t own a house but still we sleep in peace. I haven’t talked to my husband since. I want my kids to study and be what they are capable of.” Her kids are now studying in the school I teach at and the younger one is the brightest in his class.Next our Writer Linu interviewed two important women in her life. Here she says –
According to my 61 year old mother-in-law Mrs G, who coincidentally, was born on international women’s day, feminism means equality – equality in education, job opportunities, career growth, salary. A women may even reach to greater heights than men academically and professionally. However, feminism does not mean that you have a right to get your way always. But you do have a right to voice your opinion, and to be heard. Especially in a marriage, you may need to put your wishes aside for your spouse’s sake, but that’s a two-way street, and it’s called adjusting and compromising. In some areas, like physical strength, women are not equal to their male counterparts, whereas in her experience, women are better in crisis management than men, as they are stronger in handling whatever life throws their way.
64 year old Mrs D equates feminism with respect for women, and the right for women to express their opinion. It is accepting that women are equal to men in all fields. She also adds that men shouldn’t consider their wives to be slaves, and that all the household duties have to be borne equally by both spouses, especially when both are working outside the home.
Next our Writer Shini Gupta interviewed a talented woman. Shekha Kasula, at the age of 25 years, is a beautician with a diploma in Fashion & Textile Design. With a 5 years old business of salon & grooming services at home and a client base of over 200 people in Hyderabad, she is all set to break the glass ceiling that this society had set up for her apparently. She mentions that it took her a lot of hard work and grit to reach this place. She has experienced a lot as a part of this patriarchal society. It includes boys being favored more, prejudices for her dark skin color and much more. While all the relatives forced her to get married at a tender age with a groom of their choice, even her father was not very supportive of her job and moving places. It was her mother who took a strong step and supported her all throughout. It was only Shekha’s financial independence that could improve the condition of her parents which in turn reformed her father’s thoughts about women’s rights & liberation. He is happy boasting of her daughter in front of others now. Off late, he has also been supportive of Shekha’s idea of getting married when she really wants and to a person who she is absolutely happy with. She could make this possible only with courage and commitment towards her dreams. When asked, if she would like to send across any message to the millennial girls, on account of Women’s day, this is what Shekha says – “Believe in yourself, learn from your mistakes, smile through distress and grow stronger from your obstacles. Do not get bogged down by what others think & preach you. If you are on the right path, you will definitely make your parents proud of you.”
Next our Writer Shikha says, Two women who help me in keeping my life together are my mother and my house-help. This women’s day I asked them what they thought feminism is about and if they believed in it.
My mother, a sociology post graduate, has always been a homemaker. I am her only child. She is my world as much as I am hers. So here are her views on equal opportunities for women:-
Q-Do you know what feminism is,if yes, what are your views on it?
A-Feminism is something I believe in strongly. I feel females shouldn’t have to work extra hard in all spheres of life only because they are females.
Q-What do you have to say to people who think of feminism is a radical
A-A concept which is targeted at the basic thought school of our society needs to be radical. How else do you expect it to reach the grass root level? Frankly, we don’t have to do much except encouraging our girls. My house help who helps me greatly on a day to day basis, is from West Bengal. She has never been to school yet she has ensured that her three kids are getting elementary education. On being asked the same questions (in Hindi)as I asked my mother,this is what she had to say:-
Q- Do you know what feminism is,if yes, what are your views on it?
A-Ye kabhi suna nahi didi. Waise ladki yo ko barabar ke Haq milna chahiye. Mai apni beti beta dono ko school bhejti hu. Dono mere liye barabar hai. My conversation with both women brought out one thing. Mothers from two extreme socio economic groups believed that daughters have to be encouraged and made to believe that they are no less. All this has to start right from within our homes.
Next our Writer, Shubhada shares her chat with 2 women in her life.
Mrs. Shakuntala, 70 a rural resident of Barkur, Karnataka. She has played various life roles a daughter, a sister, a mother, a mother-in-law, and a cool granny to her 3 granddaughters. She believes that the art of playing all the roles successfully is by being utmost kind to everyone and treat every person with love.
1. Do you support feminist and feminism?
A: I don’t exactly understand the terms but as per you defining it to me, I would truly support women as I know what women here have to go through.
2. Your views on girls wearing short dresses?
A: my granddaughters wear all kind of clothes and I think they look extremely pretty in it. It’s their wish to wear them as it’s boring to wear the same kind of clothes (laughs).
3. Have you ever got a chance to stand up for women who went through domestic violence?
A: During those days, husband’s hitting their wives for doing small small mistakes was common. Though me as a woman feels bad for the other women, we didn’t have the guts to stand up for them and take action against the men.
4. Would you ever vote for a female Prime Minister?
A: I am a woman, I am always with women. If I feel she has the potential to run the world, I would surely vote for her.
5. How does society see a man having an extramarital affair and on the other hand a woman having the same?
A: For me both of them are wrong as they have no rights to hurt their respective spouses and their families. But I think society won’t blame the man for having an affair but at the same time the woman might be punished for doing the same.
Meet Preety Poojary, an ex Cabin Crew and currently a Makeup Artist residing in Mumbai. Happily single at the age of 37, sets her standards high with her overpowering strong opinions! She is someone young girls should really look upon to!
1. In your opinion which phrase best describes a woman?
A: Okay! Maybe not a phrase, I do have a saying, ‘ Don’t let someone dim your light simply because it’s shining in their eyes. Just be yourself’.
2. Do you believe that men and women have equal rights and equal opportunities? Do women deserve it?
A: I do believe in that! But whether they deserve or not, that depends from person to person. Just because I am a woman, I would not say that every woman deserves it. Feminism is not something like taking it from someone and giving it to you. You have to get it because you are capable of doing it.
3. Do you think women should have body hair? What’s your take on it?
A: Till the time you are really comfortable in your skin, no one can ever put you down. Don’t be ashamed because somebody else is telling you to do so.
4. What is your take on men being paid more than a female co-workers who has the same position and designation in the company.
A: I think it’s wrong! Where the output is just equivalent to a man, she deserves to be paid equally. And trust me I truly stand for it.
5. Have you ever been challenged by someone that women can’t do this, later which you proved them wrong?
A: Frankly, I have never been challenged. But just as a sibling rivalry, I can say my brother used to think that I would do nothing in life, until and unless I proved myself. Today I feel extremely proud about myself.
6. What’s your take on sexual assaults on women in public transport? And how much is the victim to be blamed?
A: I am sorry but the victim is not to be blamed! I have travelled in buses. I’ve had instances where this guy is standing behind me and rubbing against me literally! These people are sick in their minds. They need treatment! You can wear fullest of the clothes and still get molested.
7. Do people look at you differently because you chose not to get married?
A: Yes they do! They look at me very differently. I have been asked by people if I like women, and that’s the reason why I am not getting married! I just laugh it out. It’s like you don’t have to know your worth in a man! First of all find your own worth and then find a man who’s worthy of you!