Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Am I a feminist?

As a woman and a writer, I ask myself this question everyday. The biggest quandary with respect to calling myself a feminist is that there is no one definition for the word. While to some feminism means equality of men and women, to other more radical thinkers it is one which asserts that society is a patriarchy where men are the primary oppressors of women. Over the years it has been loaded with so many attributes, some of them, if I may add: I do not agree with.
Before I go on, I would like to make a small note of my problems with particular notions of some feminists who see all men as oppressors, sometimes as the enemy, and this bothers me to no extent. Women are no angels either. Some women torture other women more so than any man ever could. The fettered feminine is not an exclusive conspiracy of the male, but one which is deep-rooted in both the male and the female. We need to liberate our minds together. Men and women need to unite in love to understand each other, and change.

That said, here's the other side:

Despite my disagreements with certain radical ideas of feminism, I believe that for any movement to succeed it has to pass through a radical phase. All ideas that seem radical, communism, even non-violent struggles and satyagrahas, needed to shock society with their absolutely different ideology in order to make a dent on people's minds.

Imagine a world where we trust the systems as they are, believing that progress would happen slowly within existing paradigms... in which case things probably won't change at all. Every event that changed the history of the world was radical in its times, and feminism is one such. It had/has to be RADICAL.
In Hinduism, Kali is an angry Goddess with skulls hung around her neck, out to destroy evil. All those serene looking Mother Goddesses of the past could not affect the minds of men and women as the image of Kali did. She had to appear the way she did, she had to do the things she did: including furiously dancing on the body of her all-powerful husband, Shiva.

Sometimes, women MUST lose their patience and rage. The radical feminists are those Kalis. They needed to remind the world of the power of the feminine. I am glad they did so.
Times have changed, for some of us at least. We are free to live our lives as we please, we work, we travel, we love, we cry, we hate, we exist. And some of us even consider calling ourselves postfeminist, if we have to choose some form of feminism for ourselves. Postfeminism does not have any one definition either, it loosely looks to be pro-woman without being anti-man.

But, other women are not so lucky. In India, where the Kali cult is so vast, women are still oppressed, raped, burned. And it makes me ANGRY. Sometimes I wonder, who do we blame, the mother for bringing up her son with no morals, the father for treating the mother badly in front of the son, the government for doing nothing to change reality, religion...?

Today, after waves of women's liberation struggles, feminism, postfeminism, no-isms, we are still at the same place. Women are in chains. Maybe not all of them, but to use one's sex against one is a pathetic state of humanity.

Personally I am always wary to call myself a feminist because I fear people would look at my work differently if I did so. Some men might not even read me. Although, now I think the time has come for me to choose.
I suppose in a world where one's sex is allowed to predetermine everything, even if I do not call myself a feminist, most might read my work thinking that I am a feminist. I write from a woman's point of view, and that to most is feminist. 

So, postfeminist or RADICAL feminist, at the end of the day I suppose I am a feminist, because I believe in equality and individual liberty.


  1. Good read Sindhu ! Nicely written..

  2. Well said..!
    Good to read this kindda article.
    But sindhu,
    When and where the equality and individual liberty of a women gets into chaos mostly?