The simplest definition of feminism is the equality of sexes. Do we really think that women are considered equal to men? I myself feel like I have been in a bubble, thinking that I am an equal and if I want, can do whatever a man can. This ‘I’ represents the smallest fraction of women in India who have the luxury of such thoughts. Yes, ‘thoughts’. Some women are probably shunned for even thinking of such unspeakable things. Yet, even this ‘I’ is under a delusion. We women have been conditioned in such a manner that the proceedings around us seem to be the norm of everyday life. It was very frustrating for me when my perfect bubble was popped and I was forced to face the reality. Statistics drive a spear through the perceptions of upper class women. Let’s face it, we are not truly equal to men. So were we brainwashed? Probably. Even while deciding on careers parents have subconsciously guided their daughters towards jobs that are “fit for women”. A daughter wanting to pursue Civil Engineering or Mechanical Engineering is always faced with the question of “are you sure you can do it?” Why can’t women do it? Is it written somewhere that women can or cannot do certain things and what credibility does that source have? What is normal? What is ideal? These things are entirely subjective. A woman or a man should be able to decide what is ideal for himself/herself.
The book “Feminine Mystique” by Betty Friedan talks about how after WW2, women were viewed as baby-making machines and the children born were taught that a woman’s place was in the house, caring for her husband and children and not aspiring towards a career. Women were so severely brainwashed that the second wave of feminists struggled to continue the fight for equality and establish a strong role for women in society. I am of the opinion that this brainwashing has managed to survive over the years and still shows itself on a number of occasions because women too subscribe to it, wittingly or unwittingly. Another lesson from history is learnt from the suffragette movement in the United Kingdom, where many women demanding political power were imprisoned. They were examined by doctors and were said to have been “hysterical” because they were women. So they were “victims of their bodies”. Women have been “victims of their bodies” [suffragettes forever- The story of women and power S01E03] for far too long now. I met a man a few days back who shook my male friend’s hand and didn’t even glance at my outstretched palm but that’s okay because I’m a strong independent woman who receives equal treatment from everyone anyway. “That was just an isolated incident” I told myself and pushed back the embarrassment I felt when I retracted my hand and hid it in my pocket. What is the difference between a man and a woman? Their genitalia. And does genitalia shape who you are? You tell me.
Bored of this rant? Before I finish, here are some statistics to open your eyes my dear empowered women. Percentage of women in parliament stands at a mere 12% [Data from IPU (inter parliamentary union)], percentage of women executive directors is only 6.8% [Data from an article written by Namrata Singh on Feb 25, 2017 on the Times of India Website], the gender pay gap exceeds 30% [Data from an article written by G Sampath and published on 22/12/16 on The Hindu Website]. Still not convinced? Wake up and smell the roses, ladies. The fight against inequality is ongoing and we have to keep fighting because the ultimate goal is far off.