My Gender Does Not Determine My Choice

We've heard lots of opinions on the My choice video. Here's a thought-provoking one that you cannot ignore. Women are born equal and let's not forget it.

We’ve heard lots of opinions on the My choice video. Here’s a thought-provoking one that you cannot ignore. Women are born equal and let’s not forget it.

Deepika Padukone’s voice-rendered video ‘My Choice’ has definitely created quite a stir on social media. If you haven’t watched it yet, I want you to before you read this post.

While we are busy punching it with morality-ladden gloves, I am going to take a different route.

Whatever the intention behind the video – who made it, who is in it, whose view it reflects, why they made it – putting all that aside, I am going to reflect on what I got out of the video.

The video is thought provoking; it made me think, question, dissect, debate and converse with my own gender perceptions, stereotypes, notion, ideas, the shoulds, should nots, dos and do nots of gender.

What does choice mean to me?  Is there a difference between choice and choosing? What role does responsibility play? What is real freedom? What is true empowerment?

I remember the first time I saw the video. I have to be honest – I absolutely loved it. It was something so unusual for the Indian subcontinent that I was instantly drawn to it and I also know many other young girls in the country would have loved the video. The black and white images of Indian women and their bodies, the various moods they embodied, the intimacy, the beats, and Deepika Podukone’s strong, yet sensual voice in the background. I loved all of it!

Every sentence in the video made me think. There were lines towards the end that made no sense to me, and caused moments of disconnect from the video. But then, there were also lines that I absolutely loved like the ones below.

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“to wear the clothes I like even when my spirit roars naked”

“to be size 0 or size 50 – they don’t have a size for my spirit and never will”

“to use cotton or silk to trap my soul is to believe that you can halt the expansion of the universe or capture sunlight in the palm of your hand”

I did notice the discomfort in my body when the line “to have sex outside of marriage  – My choice” echoed in the background. While I shared the video immediately on my Facebook wall – I did not elaborate on it. I wanted to understand my own discomfort around the statement “to have sex outside of marriage  – My choice”. My own moral defenses of right or wrong were punching at my intellect – “Now, this is going to send the wrong message to the young girls of India that it is ok to cheat in marriages. What about our Indian values and how the Indian woman embodied her strength? Now, we are going to have the same problems as the western society. ” and so on.

Then sometime yesterday, I was reading the various reflections posted about this video, and blink – the lights went on inside!

Different moral compasses

It hit me that irrespective of gender, men and women have the same access to choices. It is not about being right or wrong upon making the choice, but they both have the same choices. Do girls and women know? Why are we so afraid to give the freedom of choice to our girls and women to choose the course of their life? Why do we assume that they will make a choice that will be unhealthy or destructive? Why is the same act ok for one gender, while it is not so for the other?

From my own life experience I can say that when a husband cheats without any guilt, the wife is told to forgive and forget, and continue because that is what men do. If the role were reversed, the wife would be crucified and dumped without a moment’s hesitation because women don’t do that. So, we have a different moral compass for each gender. In the above case, men have the choice and a woman’s morality is taken for granted. It is powerless!

There is a big difference between choice and choosing.

Choice definitely brings freedom and expansion, and choosing determines the direction of our life.

What we choose can be categorized as right or wrong, constructive or destructive, beneficial or harmful, healthy or unhealthy based on so many parameters – some of these parameters are irrefutable like gravity, and some are based on our own judgement.

How we choose is again based on our own life experiences, exposure, age, wisdom and inner strength.

And what I choose determines who I am as an individual – it shapes my personality, expresses my perception, and so much more. Only then can I take responsibility for my life.

When I do not have a choice I am powerless!

For many women, choices are nowhere in sight. They do not even know they have a choice. Most often than not, they are tightly wrapped in the shoulds, should nots, dos, do nots and they live without questioning. Most of them have never really experienced the power within to have a choice and to choose. Their life is not determined by them, but by factors such as religion, culture, society, family and the men or women in their lives. That is being powerless!

My choice and my ability to choose whatever it may be – makes me responsible for the course of my life. That gives me power. And with power again comes responsibility, and vice versa – with responsibility comes power! How I access/use/replenish that power such that it is uplifting for me and for those around me determines true empowerment! That is the journey for each one of our lives!

The My choice video is shouting out loud that a woman also has the choice to have an affair, to have sex in marriage or outside marriage, to not have sex and I would go one step more, and say that women also have the choice to drink alcohol and to smoke cigarettes. There is nothing like a man can do it and a woman cannot do it. Yes, the consequences of these choice also affect both equally. Patriarchal masculinity needs to wake up and realize that women also have these choices and will dare to make them.

Women have had it with the psuedo-morality and hypocrisy of the patriarchal masculine. My choice is only the first step. Women are reclaiming their choice, and making a statement to the world, especially to the patriarchal masculine – “Watch out! Don’t think you can do something and get away with it as it’s ok for you to do it. We will follow suit; even if it is at our own cost.” We are daring to choose!

In the Indian subcontinent it is a big statement, and definitely, I see it as a wake up call!

She is awakening!

She will speak out, lash out, curse out, blurt out, burst out!

She is finding her true voice!

She has to find her way – a new way – on her own terms!

She will make mistakes and it is ok!

It will take some time. There will be many back and forth, pull and push between the masculine and feminine before balance is restored. This is only a beginning.

Let us be patient!


About the Author

Rekha Kurup

Rekha Govindan Kurup is a Feminist Yogini, Women-Centered Spirituality Coach and Social Artivist. She is also the founder and Director of The She Stands Tall Project that is committed to support women in their read more...

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