Indian feminism is not yet a brand, unlike our western counterparts.! We are misled for not being able to choose between a Sex and the city and the Balika Vadhu ideology. The Indian woman is still seething to find her one moment of glory, where in she wants to know who she really is.?
While the nation has bid goodbye to its first President who in her saree covered head and experience of women's issues granted mercy petitions to mass murderers, kidnappers, killers of young children and even rapists, scoring a point with the clemency call, she forgot in the scheme of things to portray a strong leader in the Indian woman. Similarly when we saw our country's first IPS officer waving the national flag and addressing explicitly a mass meeting, little did we understand that she was aimlessly avenging from the government what she was denied ages ago, maybe for being a woman. And in between we have many more so called role models like the Queen Mary of Vatican, Ms.Gandhi or a navel showing Katrina, the Indian woman is confused and trying to find her role model in one woman who can be our Indian equivalent of Angela Merkel or Hillary Clinton. For trying to find a feminist goddess in any of these women can be a far cry from reality.
And while some women like Kiran Mazumdar Shaw is braving all odds to define the new age Indian Woman entrepreneur or Saina Nehwal despite her traditional fostering is the best of badminton players in the world, the common Indian woman is caught in the saga of saas bahu soaps and domestic politics. While sparing a break to check the news reports about a molestation case that happened in the city. Does she have an example to emulate.? Yes perhaps in a Balika Vadhu for she closely identifies herself with her rather than a Carrie Bradshaw of Sex and the City fame. Everyone else might be an example of a self service of selfishness. Atleast these women politicians.!
While she is literate the crooked corners of her soul are still yearning for a million dollar gold plated wedding with week long celebrations and ritualistic revelry. She will be the first of her friends to blog about a rape incident that happened in the city but then she is not sure about what she should do, to not let that kind of a curse fall on her. She refuses to move out of the cultural corruption of a civilization that has worshiped goddesses but raped its women on every street and corner of the city, ready to tame herself in the patrilocally positioned house of her husband accepting a friendly devil called the Indian culture rather than a westernized word called feminism all for the sake of her parents and the societal stigma she dreads.
This is the first kind of feminist, the Indian imitation of her western counterpart, who knows her rights but isn't willing to do her duties in the spirit of things. She might roar out loud against evils like dowry but she is yet to come to terms with choices that she can make for herself in a family or professional sphere or ones concerning her own body and health or beliefs.
The second kind is the more worrying one which is unacceptable to most Indian women. The cigarette smoking, tequila drinking bimbette who defines freedom with her skimpy clothes and sexy stilettos with a brain sold to the scrap dealer for half a penny. She isn't bothered about a character certificate but will ramble to appear raunchy to define feminism in flesh and blood. Is that feminism in first place.? I wonder.?
Do we need a vagrant vilified idea of liberation to fight for equality.? And more so, this idea will never work in the rural rustiness of a world that still lives in a century old social mould.
While Indian feminists fought hard to change the rape laws in 1972 or the sati saga in 1987 they are yet to create an Indian definition of Independence with debates on birth control, abortion, patriarchal family or professional or family choices with a say on marriage or motherhood.
The third kinds might be the ones like me who are caught between best of both the worlds. While I essentially became a feminist half a decade ago, for my soul was refusing to budge to a kind of sexual selection that was made at birth for me, since the XX or XY equations are biologically calculated and not our choice. I was not affiliated to the idea of being discriminated for being a bearer of a XX combination of chromosomes. Let that be at home while partaking in the domestic chores and running away from fixing a feast, for cooking is the one activity I have grown up to hate, or at church trying to regressively put down the idea of covering my head in the mass, to the professional and creative circle that brought me both brickbats and corsages.
While I tried finding answers in Gloria Steinham, Simone de Beauvoir or the modern Indian feminists like Arundhati Roy or Nivedita Menon, my greatest hour of liberation came when I was invited to do a paper on the social evils existing in the Syrian Christian society for the University of Nottingham. I couldn't say a yes initially and in a split second of confusion posted a status update on facebook to see how many men and women would give me a thumbs up, I was astonished at the massive support from friends and especially male friends. Even then it took me another ten days to make my fingers tap dance on the keyboard and write my own fable of suppressed sobs prevalent in a Christian patriarchal society. And in all the writing and writhing, for it also made me think that I might never get a guy from our own community after this one act of adventure, even though getting married isn't as important to me as it is to my parents, this glorious moment of breaking free from the shackles of shyness and scare was the greatest leap I made towards feminism. I changed for good and gave myself wings to fly with. I defined feminism for myself in that one moment of reckoning.