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While the 'Lean In' message may apply more to upper middle class women, it gives all women the chance to make our presence felt in the public spaces that matter.
While the ‘Lean In’ message may apply more to affluent/upper middle class women, it gives all women the opportunity to make our presence felt in the public spaces that matter.
‘Lean In’ has become one of the most important pieces of writing of the last 5 years, on the challenges for women in the workforce in intermediate to mid-level positions. It has reached a mainstream audience and for feminists and feminist networks it has now become a staple book for discussion.
More than just agreeing with it wholeheartedly or simply refusing to read it, it is important to understand what its faults are, but also how to galvanize its momentum for a broader gender equality agenda.
First, let me just say, I don’t think the book’s message is universal. I think it addresses structural challenges for (mostly white) women to succeed in Corporate America. Following its neo-liberal tendencies, it puts a lot more emphasis on the individual women, than it does on the structural challenges that prevent their ascension to leadership roles.
I still think the book is important though. Not because its message is new or inclusive, but because it is opening a discussion about the difficulties of women within several patriarchal structures that most mainstream channels didn’t even begin to question. The author of the book, Sheryl Sandberg, is admittedly not a Gender studies scholar or an activist. I think it would be disingenuous of her to do so. It is a lot about us now, to take this space and move the discussions forward.
A women’s demonstration in the Philippines, rights reserved to Kilusang Mayo Uno.
The third wave of feminism is about inclusion, so let’s bring our issues to the table. We want to talk about inclusion in the workplace, women’s representation in media and women’s representation in government. Let’s talk about violence against women, harassment on the workplace/in the streets and sexual violence.
Let’s use this opportunity to have open discussions on the need for comprehensive sex education, abortion, especially in conflict-zones and access to birth control and family planning. Let’s use this space, more than ever, to allow us, women from Latin America, Asia, Africa, indigenous women, black women, queer women to have a more significant voice in feminism, politics and on the development agenda. Let’s discuss identity, our heteronormative culture and fight discrimination, misogyny, homophobia and transphobia.
My point is, I believe we have to be intersectional and inclusive, but also smart and getting our messages across and transforming power relations. Sandberg’s neoliberal feminism is not perfect, like TED Women is not perfect, or UN Security Council resolution 1325 is not perfect but they are getting women’s rights in the mainstream agenda.
We need those spaces, we need to change those structures. Rather than op-out of the dialogue we can use this moment and those openings – not to undermine those struggles, that are in themselves valid – but make those spaces more meaningful for all of us and to get closer to actual gender equality.
Top pic credit: jumfer (All pics used under a CC license)
I never know how to begin to answer those existentialistic questions... Who are you? How do you see yourself in the future? Truthfully, I'm a feminist, a researcher, a web activist, a film buff, read more...
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"There is a story and a vision which makes us gravitate towards cinema. Even as we worked as assistants on ads, we realised that cinema was our true calling," say Gunpreet Kaur Mann and Deepali Singh Raseen.
The Railway Men. Mili. Cuttputli. The Diplomat. Bade Miyan Chote Miyan. And more…
Let me introduce to you the talented designer duo who have worked on these, and can be considered today’s upcoming costume designers for the screen. Gunpreet Kaur Mann and Deepali Singh.
Having studied at NIFT, Gunpreet Kaur Mann sent her portfolio out to several designers. Her first gig was as an assistant stylist with Manoshi and Rushi, who also happen to be a designer duo. She worked on an ad film starring Saif Ali Khan and eventually landed a full time job with designer Vikram Phadnis. Years of experience as assistant costume designer followed, which eventually led her to getting a break.
A ‘thank you’ makes a lot of difference in the way any woman in your life sees herself in your eyes. It might even mean the world to her.
I have not received any appreciation in the past. Probably never will. This is the experience of ample women across the globe. The expectation to be thanked for all the sacrifices she makes to keep others happy has faded. Yet the urge to hear few words of acknowledgement always lingers.
There is never a day when she pushes off her own burdens. She knows not to give up on people she loves. Women in general, are givers by nature and hence, give without asking anything in return. They have been the care givers and lovers since centuries however receive no appreciation.
It will mean the world to your mother if you answer her calls. If your sister seems lost give her a hug and assure her about her strengths. Tomorrow, there might come a day when you would have to make your daughter feel empowered with few words of wisdom every now and then. For the children to feel wanted and loved, you must be able to spare some quality time with your wife and be present in the moment.
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