‘’You deserve a love that listens when you sing, that supports you when you act like a fool,
That respects your freedom, that accompanies you when you fly and isn’t afraid to fall” – Frida
As a child I faintly remember our domestic maid speaking to Maa about her husband and her in laws.
How they use to abuse her physically.
Back in our childhood days I remember I had visited one of my best friends in the afternoon.
Poonam’s mother was a senior superintendent in a hospital and her father was working in SAIL,
Rourkela. Her mother was on a night shift the previous night and the next afternoon when I went
there to play with Poonam I saw her mother waiting for her husband. In spite of the fact that her
duty did not allow her to have any rest the night before , she returned home and without any grudge
, not only cooked food for her family but also waited for her husband till 4 pm to have a copybook
‘blissful’ family lunch .How much blissful for her I wonder !!
When I entered the corporate world I was taken aback by the news that one of my friends was rated
below average during appraisals as she was on maternity leave even though she had been present at
work for eight and a half months in that financial year.
Before my child was born during my baby shower ceremony, I remember an old lady who happened
to be our family friend whispering in my ear,” It’s a baby boy’’
Though each of the above anecdotes are unique in their own way, yet one thing is common there is
a bias against women in all cases. And as I grew up I had come across several such stories.
Women are still subjected to unfair treatment. It can be in the form of lack of respect in a
relationship, someone may face gender discrimination in workplace or in one’s own family. The
society humiliates a woman when it is insensitively expressed that the ‘Daughter’ can’t do a lot of
things which a ‘Son’ can do.
In its earlier phase feminism meant acting like a male but the concept has changed now. We have
read about the contributions of many famous women personalities in various fields. One such
eminent personality was Frida Kahlo – a Mexican contemporary artist. I am thoroughly inspired by
the way she has used her art to focus on the sufferings and ill treatments meted out to women. She
had a turbulent life and had to face the brunt of adverse criticism. However, this unfavourable
situations could not deter her from supporting a feminist movement in art.
Recently I was invited to attend a programme in one of the city’s 5 star hotels. The programme was
organised by the ‘’Sheroes Community’’. It is one of the largest women online community which is
committed to enhancing the quality of opportunities for women and investing in women
professionals through various phases of their career. The coinage of the word ‘’Sheroes’’ had the
objective of paying a tribute to the feats achieved by women. Though I fully support the cause, I
have reservations regarding the etymology of the coinage. I would rather read it as ‘ She rose’ (and
not use the word ‘sheroes’ here).
It was a day long event and it started with an important conversation around women and the future
of their work. It was great listening to the Ted style talks by some renowned and influential women
of the society. During the Q & A session someone from the audience asked one of the eminent
writers ‘’How do you handle a situation when you know someone is abusing you?’’ The writer
answered ‘’ Firstly , it is essential that we identify such situations since most of the time we keep
silent thinking it to be a normal scenario. Physical abuse can be identified without any fail.However at times we fail to identify when we are abused mentally ’’. She added, “Suppose you
reach home late and on entering the house your grown up child tells you ,’’ I will tell Dad that
today you were late’’. When your colleague tells you ,“She has mood swings during this period
every month’’. That’s also a kind of abuse. This experience has strengthened me in locating the
abuses which we somehow tend to overlook. It is important that we identify them and deal with
them boldly without being silent. So it is time we inculcate in the minds of our children a sense of
respect for every women without any discrimination.
Feminists are not merely those who are into shouting slogans on women’s rights. Rather in today’s
world feminists are those who follow their dreams with courage without being explicitly rebellious .
Sudha Murthy is perhaps the best example in whose persona we find an amalgamation of the so
called traditional womanliness and the intensity of a dreamer. Today women are becoming
independent and are coming out of their stereotypes. ’’Girls Gang’’ have become popular across the
globe these days. It feels so good to see women going on a solo trip. As a society we are definitely
evolving and becoming equipped to understand and support the very essence of a woman’s life. If
an individual supports a woman, she or he need not be merely called a feminist in a sarcastic way.
Time has come to understand that people should speak up for equality and not segregate society on
the basis of gender.
In this context Barack Obama’s words are worth quoting :
“ We need to keep changing the attitude that raises our girls to be demure and our boys to be
assertive, that criticizes our daughters for speaking out and our sons for shedding a tear.
We need to keep changing the attitude that punishes women for their sexuality and rewards men
We need to keep changing the attitude that permits the routine harassment of women, whether
they are walking down the street or daring to go online.
We need to keep changing the attitude that teaches men to feel threatened by the presence and
success of women.
We need to keep changing the attitude that congratulates men for changing a diaper , stigmatizes
full time dads and penalizes working mother.
We need to keep changing the attitude that values being confident, competitive and ambitious in
the workplace –unless you are a woman.
We need to keep changing a culture that shines a particularly unforgiving light on women and girls
Way back in 2001 the national award winning movie ‘ Astitva ’ talks about discovering and
celebrating a woman’s individuality. It reveals the callous double standard maintained by the society
where women are being judged and stigmatized not only by men but also by women. Women are
still held to a different moral standard. When the protagonist is rejected not only by her husband but
also by her own son she finds solace in the company of her would be daughter in law. This is a story
of a woman’s compassion for another. Unfortunately this factor is still missing in today’s world. A
woman’s empathy for another woman should be the new definition of feminism