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Dissent: The Personal Is Political!

Posted: December 31, 2014

When it comes to dissent, the personal is political, and every little thoughtful act of defiance counts, says this post.

Protest. Dissent. What comes to our minds when we think of these words?

Large gatherings of protesters at Jantar Mantar in Delhi? Angry people sloganeering in loud voices while holding up placards? Large candle-light vigils? Or people wearing black outfits performing street plays protesting against some social issue?

These symbolise a very public form of protesting where the intention is to reach out to many people and make a statement. But is this the only way of protesting? Are they the only ones subverting oppressive norms and breaking out from them?

I’d like to think not. I am a firm believer of every human being (and in the context of this article, women) as being intrinsically powerful and very much capable of being subversive. We are, on a daily-basis, in some way or the other, making a statement against social and gendered norms.

Think of the day when you were all decked up and ready to leave to meet your friends, and your mother throws an inquiring look in your direction (to be translated as – ‘are you wearing that outfit to go out?’). When you decided to step out in that very outfit; you made a statement and you subverted a norm.

The time when you convinced your parents that you can stay out late, given that your brother is allowed the same freedom – you won a battle for at least a dozen of the rest of the us.

When you politely but pointedly told a colony ke uncle that his jibes of ‘ladki jaisa bhagna/drive karna’  (running/driving like a girl) are wholly sexist, you created a thought ripple which would cross his mind every single time he dons his sexist hat!

Remember that local goon standing at the bus-stand, who would stare at you every time you boarded the bus? Well, one day you just stared back at him till he averted his gaze and sheepishly walked off, and you made that bus-stop a safer space for others as well.

The day you explained to your parents that marriage will follow only after you’ve figured your career path out, you gave courage to your peers to say the same to their parents. When you helped your friend come to terms with her abusive relationship and recognise her self-worth, you gave a voice to so many more who continue to languish in physically and emotionally traumatic relationships.

The day you began your live-in relationship by junking the ‘log kya kahenge’ paradigm, you protested against some of the most oppressive norms against sexuality and freedom in relationships.

You know what I am getting at, right?

Billions of drops make an ocean, and every act of subversion (no matter the context or the person) has larger ripple effects that will cumulatively shake the tyranny of the system.  Collective  acts of protest have their own relevance, but we should never negate the impact of our everyday actions as well. We are knowingly or unknowingly, willingly or unwillingly, directly or indirectly, inspiring many others to find that reserve of courage and take control of their lives.

We all are setting precedents and helping women around us, and even those who are yet to face the patriarchal nature of our society. You will face all kinds of naysayers along your journey, but that should only further your resolve. I urge all you readers out there to keep the ball rolling and help all of us inch closer to our ultimate goal of equality and freedom.

 Pic credit: Image of a revolution via Shutterstock.

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