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An Incident At The Park With My Niece Made Me Wonder, ‘Am I A Feminist?’

Posted: June 26, 2020

Am I a feminist? If so, why all my ideologies had shattered mercilessly. After a wild goose chase, I got some realistic explanations. Here are some of them.

I heard my mom say this all the time, ‘Feminism can be learnt and taught, but cannot always be adhered.’ Digesting this notion was really hard till I faced a catch–22 situation one day.

Around 5.30 in the evening, I took my niece to the park near my house. As soon as she entered the park, she started playing with the kids there. I found a relatively clean place and sat there to let my mind wander.

Soon, the park got crowded and I left my place for an elderly couple to sit and relax. As I started walking around the kids’ corner, I noticed a strange thing. There were three young men staring at my 10-year-old niece. Being an over-protective woman, I immediately beckoned to my niece and we left that park.

And I began questioning myself

On the way back home, I was advising her not to wear skirts or frocks while playing, and suggested her to wear pants instead. She said okay and we reached home. But the feminist inside me slapped hard on my face with these unanswerable questions.

  1. Why did I restrict my niece while she was just playing innocently with her friends?
  2. Who am I to instruct my niece on her clothing?
  3. I didn’t even know whether they stared at my niece with a wrong intention or was it just a casual look.
  4. If they really had wrong intentions, what else could be done other than evacuating my niece from that place?
  5. Am I a feminist? If so, why all my ideologies had shattered mercilessly?

After this incident, I sought after an answer that filled the vacuum in my poor heart. Though it turned out to be a wild goose chase, I got some emotional and realistic explanations. With those explanations in the foreground, I tried to formulate some possible solutions.

Flesh and blood – but mostly, only flesh

A set of pre-defined notions, unapologetic patriarchy and delayed justice are the primary reasons for the prevalence of a chauvinistic society. Living in a society that ranks women as the ‘second’ sex is frightening because of the stigma or social conditioning that is prevalent everywhere.

A woman is a living being with flesh and blood. However, the blood disappears and she is desired for her flesh alone. Thus, the thought of guarding her body is the foremost order a woman receives from her family.

Have we gone wrong and where?

The phrase ‘beauty with brains’ is a prime example of where we went wrong. In my view, that phrase should not be taken as a compliment. In a broader perspective, it gives importance to a woman’s body/physique rather than her mind.

Her intellect plays a vital role in making decisions, her elegance and hard work plays a vital role in achieving goals. But she is always assessed for her physical beauty. It is because the society has been conditioned to place a woman’s body higher than her mind. This is the undeniable reality.

A woman’s physical beauty is praised so much so that the urge to ‘seize’ the beauty turns out to be the major task of every uncivilised and brutal man. The act of a sexual harassment becomes worse when people engage in victim blaming, where the entire family is shattered to pieces.

And the aftermath of a calamity is worse than the calamity itself. Likewise, victim blaming is highly feared in India, even more than the crime. As a society, we have to lucidly purge certain age-old ideals to put an end to these act of heinous crimes and prejudices.

The poem that I wrote long back rang a bell when I was pondering over this incident. If every man understands this, women will not be doomed to live under clutches.

“Hey sis,

Close the doors and change your clothes.

That is for your sibling,

Hey man,

That chick is undressing

Come, let’s peep!!

This is for some unknown girl. 

Shame!!!  It’s not on my body but in your mind.”

Can we do anything at all?

I strongly believe that uninvited attention given to a woman’s body by the society paves way for sexual objectification. The brutalities and prejudices will certainly end if we stop seeing a woman’s body from a different perspective.

A woman’s body is her own rights and nothing more or nothing less. No individual has right to abuse or comment or even to think about a woman’s body. At the same time, preaching these notions alone will not bring necessary changes.

We should be prepared and prepare our daughters to face the inevitable reality. “In the battlefield, a woman should be a warrior and not a mere survivor.” This is the need of the hour and it is our duty to nurture our daughters as brave warriors.

Till this incident, I strongly denied this fact and blamed men for the crimes. But the naked truth is we haven’t prepared our daughters to face those crimes. As an individual each one of us have failed to impart this idea.

Though a feminist, I forced my niece to act as a survivor by vacating her from the place. The aspect of becoming a warrior has stepped down on that day. Nevertheless I repent my mistake and made a decision to bring her up as a warrior in the future.

As a warrior she should face her enemies courageously and support her fellow warriors too. My humble request to every parent – raise your daughters to be warriors and your sons to be well-wishers.

Till the world becomes a happy and safe place, and the society respects a woman for her intellect, and the real meaning of equality is understood by everyone, we need brave warriors and boundless well-wishers.

I’m a feminist and I have pledged to raise warriors and well-wishers. Have you?

Picture credits: Pexels

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Assistant Professor of English, Interested in Indian Mythology, Existentialist. Another fallen leaf in the cosmic

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