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Please Don’t Tell Me What My Feminism Should Look Like

Posted: November 25, 2019

Who can decide which of women’s choices are valid or not? Isn’t feminism all about respecting choices of all women, whoever they are? 

When I say I don’t agree with a person’s views, I am saying I don’t agree with their views. Period. I am not saying I have a problem with the person or am in any manner attacking the person on a personal level. It’s the idea that I am referring to.

Now that I am done with the disclaimer, let me come straight to the point.

What an author wrote about feminism:

“However, fueled by the rising feminist movements across the globe, there is also another track the media has used to showcase empowered women. This kind of depiction tries to portray an empowered woman as one who can wear racy outfits, consume alcohol at the drop of a hat and engage in casual sex.

A classic example of it could be the Amazon Prime series, Four More Shots Please. This kind of show often ends up making many uncomfortable with the idea of feminism. Depicting western notions of feminism wrapped in their culture serve the purpose of entertainment, but it raises many questions too. Feminism is about equality, freedom and empowerment of women but isn’t it that with freedom comes the responsibility to be progressive, yet stand steadfast around our values? These desperate innuendos do not represent modern and empowered Indian women. If it does, then it’s probably a minority!”

I, as a female, have serious issues with this idea of feminism given by the author Farah here.

What is the definition of an empowered woman?

If the media sometimes depicts an empowered woman as one who wears racy outfits, who sees no problems in casual consensual sex, smokes and drinks, what exactly is the problem there? Are we questioning women’s choices here? Are we considering women who wear revealing outfits, women who drink and women who engage in casual consensual sex as lesser beings?

Farah further adds the Amazon Prime series Four More Shots Please and its depiction of women makes a lot of people “uncomfortable “.

My opinion: Isn’t it against the very notion of feminism to question another woman’s choice and judge her? Also, isn’t it taking too much interest in other’s lives when we say the life of a person disturbs us? I mean, why should it? If you agree with that idea, fine! If not, it’s not your place to make a decision for others.

Should we be judging other women’s choices?

Four More Shots Please is a web series revolving around the lives of four women. Four fiercely independent women. In my opinion, the women are cultured, have good values and are very sensitive in life.

As a woman talking about feminism, isn’t it rather harsh judging other women because they consume alcohol and enjoy doing that, because they aren’t in a relationship but indulge in sex? (Consensual sex. The women here aren’t raping anyone or promoting adulterous behaviour, nor cheating) Isn’t this the exact mentality that women have been fighting against since centuries? The notion that women’s choices can be questioned because someone else feels “uncomfortable” with the way they are living their lives is exactly what feminists have been fighting against.

What does ‘progressive’ exactly mean?

When Farah says “with freedom comes the responsibility to be progressive yet stand steadfast around our values?”, I don’t really know how anyone can dictate what values other people should stick by in their lives.

I have grown up in a household where I have seen my mother, my aunts, my great aunts all enjoying family dinners, evening conversations with a glass of wine or gin. Also, what exactly are racy outfits? Shorts? Bikinis? Dresses? To be honest, even my mother and my aunts wear these things! I am a mother to a 21month old baby girl and I love wearing my shorts, dresses or bikinis. Furthermore, I have never questioned women who claim to be progressive and also choose to dress conservatively. How is it my problem if someone has a problem with this culture of my family, the values this open minded environment imparts? Is it saying that the women in my family aren’t cultured or are not having enough values?

There have been a lot of debates around women covering their heads with scarves or chunnis or hijabs. Almost everywhere the decision is always left on the woman. To wear or not to wear should be a woman’s own free will. So why is this free will questioned in case of racy outfits and alcohol?

Feminism and women empowerment is all about the freedom of choice that a woman has. By questioning that freedom, by putting a boundary on the freedom of other beings, by respecting only a section’s choices and rejecting those of others, we are taking away centuries of struggle and hard work women have put in to make the right of choice for women a thing in this world.

Choices of even women who’re a minority are valid

The last line of the two paragraph summary is what makes this whole idea of feminism by Farah very dangerous. She writes:

“these desperate innuendos do not represent modern Indian women and if it does, it’s probably a minority!” 

When women’s fight for voting rights began, it was started by a small group, a minority of women who had problems with the “culture” and “values” of those times. It was a small group of women who fought for university admissions to be made open for women in America. It was another fight where a small group of black women rebelled for their equal rights in education. All these struggles were started by a group of people who were at that point, a minority.

An idea doesn’t lose its merit because of being a minority belief nor does it hold true because it’s a majoritarian view.

Some women enjoy a glass of wine and some enjoy orange juice while some prefer plain water. Some feel comfortable in jeans, some feel at home in shorts while others feel good and confident in salwar kameez or sarees. Some enjoy sex, some explore their sexuality, while some think of sex as a sacred act. These are all choices.

Lets be free and let others be themselves.

Image source: a still from Four More Shots Please

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