Feminism is a range of actions & ideologies to achieve social, political, personal and economic equality for all sexes. Yes, it says sexes. But feminism, in simple words, has been a movement, fighting to empower women.
As a kid, I didn’t face inequality of any kind. While I had an over-achieving brother, I was never made to feel inadequate or any less than my brother because I was raised to parents who were feminists (while they wouldn’t know they are still). I was taught to embrace my potential as an individual and not accept the notion of choosing what people expected me to do.
Once I decided to step out of the bubble called my home, reality hit me hard and right so in the face. I realised how hard girls have it in their lives while I was blessed to be born to a family where a girl-child birth was celebrated. But girls in my circle weren’t as fortunate as me. I remember at the age of 20, they would plan to get married, not knowing how would they do with their degrees. There were stories they shared that their parents wouldn’t fund their education because they were saving it for their dowry. These girls had the zest to fund their own education through taking loans.
I was quite unlike a typical Indian girl never as sweet, polite or smiling. Always questioned about my language, my outfits, my hairstyles, or basic choices like smoking – drinking etc. Termed as a misfit within my own gender. By this time I had realised how every action of mine was being judged and how I was breaking stereotypes almost always. Because I chose to be and live my life on my own terms.
I continued to break societal norms, when I became a mechanical engineer which was almost a reserved spot for boys. Then joined the automotive engineering group, being the first woman to join the group in my college and then the rest followed. Through my life I learnt that one needs to carve one’s own path, and every stereotype or restriction is a barrier only until one breaks it. So have been breaking the glass ceiling and pushing it upper again and again. May be I was fortunate because of the family I was born into and my upbringing shaped me in to a confident being, hence I could fight it so far.
While other women in India continue to express immense abuse on a daily basis. Women have experienced years of abuse and assault fighting for rights that they were entitled to just as much as men were. But since men have been privileged enough to get their rights served on a silver platter to them, women have always been considered the second gender making men the first. Women have been considered an inferior or secondary gender for years across almost every realm of life positioning them as a weaker one too. Women have been perceived physically weak and hence have been confined to the four walls of the house or have been rejected for years because they were considered inadequate for survival or may be men feared that women would overpower them and not satisfy their egos.
In every phase of a women’s life in India, since birth, women are taught to respect men, bow down to the man they will marry and offer her life to him, in sickness and in health. Women are expected to know how to cook, how to take care of a child, to clean up after everyone else, dress appropriately and remain mostly within the four walls of the house. If taking care of a girl seems too much for a household to take, they are either killed or abandoned, which in India is very common. There is a common notion that girls are born in a home to ultimately end up in a different home. Going by the societal norm, girls were brought up with the notion to serve men hence making them a second gender.
Women have been denied the right to education, career opportunities because men were considered the bread-earners and women the home-makers. Hence losing the chance to education, making a living for themselves. They have been prisoners behind the walls of patriarchy well guarded by the patriarchal society. For years women weren’t heard or believed if they dared to speak their truth. But there were these spectacular women who just refused to summon to the needs to men over their own. These women wanted to be heard and understood if given a chance, they can surprise with the unwavering strength. It was never an easy road; it still isn’t and probably won’t be for a long time in the future.
Feminism should remain intact in its essence a fight for the equality of all sexes. Which now is being targeted towards women, thanks to the innate patriarchy in our society. It’s an ideology of creating a world, where women are heard, understood and supported just as much as men are. Where girls are seen as humans and not just as a gender and a liability. It’s about having empathy and accepting her choice to live life on her own terms.
At the end Feminism is a way of life, empowering each individual to be who they are. It’s beyond judgement basis gender, its equal rights, opportunities and responsibilities to both men and women.
Written by –
Elora Nath, O Womania Team
A Mechanical Engineer, turned to blogging and content writing. If she is not at work, she spends most of her time binge-watching TV Series and Movies. Occasionally participates in Poetry Slams and Sports. Loves Swimming and Karaoke.