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Women’s Web is all about enabling women to tell their own stories. So here we are, with the top 10 posts that are about Women’s Rights & Feminism, in #ADecadeOfWomensWeb.
While digging into all the possible posts from #ADecadeOfWomensWeb for the best posts on Women’s Rights & Feminism, I realised that I had a difficult task on hand. There were so many of these posts that fit the ‘top’ post tag. And there were also some authors who specialised in these posts – almost all their posts fell under this category.
How was I to pick only 10? And more importantly, how do I pick only one from among any particular author’s work? It was a hard task, but one that had to be done. Even going by the number of reads they have received, it was difficult.
I’ve tried my best to get you a very diverse list, covering a lot of bases; there’s so much that these posts don’t cover, but I was constrained by the number I had to pick. Among those that aren’t here are issues of single women, single mothers, unpaid elder care that only women seem to be expected to do, the burden we place on our daughters, women who need to ‘balance’ working in the home and working in a paid position, women’s finances, validation of women’s anger, the idea that women are not full human beings but ‘belong’ to a man and hence their identity is defined by him, the issues of women’s identity and place after marriage, the dreams she is ‘allowed’ to even have, let alone fulfil… I could go on. There’s an ocean out there, and this is but a drop.
You’re A Feminist? Ask Yourself If Your Feminism Is Selective Or Inclusive
Even ‘feminists’ often don’t include all women in their feminism. We are reading and writing and making much noise. But our feminism is selective. We are crying and yelling and taking mutual stands. But our feminism is selective.
We unite on Twitter and Facebook to teach the Delhi aunty a lesson in rape culture. We remind her that our clothes don’t define us. That we are not asking for it when we wear shorts. But we snicker in corners at office parties and judge middle aged women who wear backless blouses. We subtly remind our colleagues that it’s “too much cleavage and looks slutty”.
We consider women goddesses and witches. We have the power to change and become the change. Yet we exclude trans women because they don’t share our anatomy. We want women to ‘look like women’. Be women. Born a woman. We accept nothing else as ‘women’.
We have become the women we always wanted to be. But we are yet to accept our sisters who aren’t what we want them to be. Our lens is different for different people. We pick our icons and feminist battles. We are yet to unlearn and learn. We are yet to allow women to be women.
The Curious Case Of The (Mythical?) Feminist Indian Man
Have you met men who say they “support feminism, however now women are taking it too far”? Men who claim to be feminists? What do they typically say? How do you respond?
I know that you have come a long way. You. The male. The privileged male. The benefits of patriarchy that you could have enjoyed still, may have been taken away from you. Sometimes you have supported it. Sometimes you have felt it became ‘too much’.
You are probably doing more than your counterparts in the previous generation. But that in no way means we have attained equality.
You fail us the moment you say ‘I am not saying women should get harassed BUT’. You fail us when you bring up male victims when we talk about our struggles. You digress from the topic. You make it a gender war. You in no way, are the feminist man. Your fragile ego should not get hurt. We can.
YOU my friend are the reason feminism is needed. Your ONLY contribution to feminism is adding fuel to the fire burning within us.
Walking At Night: A Feminist Fantasy?
Can you imagine how wonderful it would be to not worry about safety if we were to take a walk just for the sake of it, or back on our way from somewhere at night, alone, just enjoying the sounds of the silence and the coolness under starlight? Is this even possible for an average Indian woman to dream of? It was a reality for this author in a few months of her stay in Germany.
While I was still doing this simple act, i.e., walking back home, I realised how this simple act was unimaginable for me a couple of months back while I was still in India, how I always needed the company of a trusted male friend who owned a car and about whom I was very sure that he would drop me home safely. I remembered how for many many women this is still a utopia, a fantasy and they might not be able to do this simple act their entire lives. They will go to their graves without taking a walk at night.
Living in Germany since the past four months this act had become a part of my daily routine, my life where I would walk back everyday in the evening either after university or from other prior engagements. I got so used to it that I didn’t realise that it is something special that I should treasure because it is a privilege that I am receiving right now from this country.
Cooking Does Not Come Pre-Installed In A Woman’s DNA
A woman need not ‘know’ or ‘enjoy’ cooking just on account of her gender. It has to be a choice, that even men should get – if they like to cook, they should be able to. Unfortunately, one of the parameters by which we continue to ‘measure’ a woman’s worth is her ability of lack of it in the kitchen. One that men aren’t burdened with, when cooking should just be alive skill, as the lockdown has brought sharply to our notice.
The number of women who are left unsatisfied in their lives because of the amount of time they have to spend in the kitchen should be our talking point. The unpaid labour and the forced job description that is undervalued in the name of emotions and motherly duties and some such gobbledygook conditions piled upon women, leading them to believe they love cooking when many might actually not.
Learn basic cooking, everyone. And do it each day to feed yourself. Stop this dependence. If you see someone is in the kitchen cooking alone, go help, or just be there.
What Does It Mean To Be Me, Considered An ‘Elite Dalit’ Woman In India?
The caste system is very much alive in India, raising its head in brutal forms many times as we see on the news, but also working in insidious ways that are normalised. A Dalit woman in twice cursed – once due to her gender, and the second time because of her caste identity. Things become worse as this intersects with socioeconomic class or educational levels.
This is my experience as Dalit woman in India, someone who gets judged for being an ‘elite’ Dalit woman. I argue here, that ‘Elite Dalit’ is an oxymoron, and why it is so.
“You should write about your Dalit experience,” said my friend, “your elite Dalit experience,” to which I almost nodded in agreement, instantly realizing how furious it made me.
Yes for a Dalit woman, I live a very privileged life, but what does my privilege exactly include? As far as I know I am just a regular working class educated woman living an independent life. Apparently meeting the basic requirement makes me elite, and in my case an elite Dalit woman, however, when same applied to a Savarna woman, qualifies her as a ‘normal’ girl.
Just the thought of trying to de-construct ‘elite Dalit woman’ seems daunting, it is indeed a profound, almost soul searching task, but I am ready today.
Women Expected To Be There For Others; Who’s There For A Woman When She Needs It?
Women have been ‘doing’ things for everyone else but themselves for ages now, and maybe we need to stop that and do things just for ourselves, too?
You’ve been through a phase of loneliness where you wanted to speak up, but thought about the argument that would ensue before your children, also because you had a point of view, but the inability to debate and hence no listeners. You felt lonely because you were in a crowd of over-achievers and pining to be in their shoes, but little ones had to be attended to. You felt lonely because you did it all for others, but no one asked you if you needed help in a way that they meant it. You got through sickness without someone bringing you a cup of hot tea at your bedside and deciding to take charge at home. You felt lonely because you wanted to have sex, but didn’t get any because things were not great at work and he wanted to just sleep it off. It is such mundane things that you kept doing on an automaton that made you lonely.
I compare this with what the men do. Randomly plan a meet-up assuming that things at home are already taken care of. Who spoilt them for choice this way? I would say the entire upbringing in our society needs to undergo a change, but let’s not go there.
The Curious Case Of The Invisible Woman In Almost All Our Homes
In a society which measures a woman’s worth only by her reproductive prowess, a woman becomes an invisible woman when she becomes old.
In our society a woman becomes invisible when she becomes old, and almost without a trace when this old woman is sans husband too. If you pay attention you will come across many such women languishing in their slots. At this stage they are ‘mothers’ (or aunts) – old, useless, peculiar, tiresome, ever-complaining grumblers, full of their aches and pains – keeping a corner of the house unnecessarily occupied.
This invisible woman has all the bearings of respectability. She will be given a room, even a pooja room. She will be aired before the guests, brought out of closet existence and made a spectacular display of in the drawing room. On such occasions, the DIL will be very deferential in serving her because to the outsiders it gives the picture of perfect domestic bliss – three generations living harmoniously – a sense of wholeness, traditions, culture. Guests depart and it is back to lonely meals and no participation in family life.
These Women’s Stories Show We Need To Break The Culture of Silence in India!
The author tells us the real life stories of 3 women in rural parts of Northern India, with whom she works; stories that might be alien to many of us privileged women.
Menstruation is a phenomenon that changes everything for a girl. As she dwindles with the bodily and emotional changes that happen to her, she is forced to take it as a curse instead of a blessing. On the one hand where she can see her body change, on the other, she sees how her curious mind is shut up forever. Neither does her mother tell her what to do, nor does anybody else. Hygiene, nutrition, puberty, sex education are topics that are dusted under the carpet. As she grows, she realizes that she must have committed many sins to be born a woman.
The fact that sometimes a woman cannot easily talk even to a woman about her troubles and get empathy in return makes it evident that even after 65 years of independence, women are crippled by social customs and age-old traditions to a level where they won’t speak out their desires.
Consent is Not Just About Sex, And Not Just For Men To Learn About
‘Consent’ has been in the news quite a lot since #MeToo and movies like Pink that brought the concept into public awareness. But is consent just about sex? No, says the author. This is something that has to become a way of life to be respectful of every person.
Consent is not about “formality.” It doesn’t make relationships mechanical. Instead, when you ask for permission, you show the person that you care about them and their desires and their comfort. It is more loving, more romantic, more caring and more respectful than making assumptions.
Creating a “culture of consent” can go a long way in creating safe, loving environments at home, at workplaces and at businesses. When consent becomes a habit that everyone follows, in every situation, we won’t need to teach our boys separately that “no means no.”
I Am A Widow… But I Still Want To Live Life!
It’s the 3rd decade of this millennium now, but stigmatisation and discrimination of widows in India continues. And if you think this is something that only happens among rural or uneducated societies, think again. The author of this story is a young, educated woman in a corporate job.
The situation of widows has improved drastically in our society and yet some unseen shackles remain. I am not expected to wear white or cut off all my hair. But I am frowned upon when I wear western clothes, or because I have streaked hair and multiple tattoos on my body.
One of my ‘friends’ said she was sure I would be soon getting married again because “looking” at me thats what she felt! Really? You can gauge my pain, understand my feelings by just looking at me?
I am being judged for deciding to look for a job and starting to work immediately and not agreeing to mope around at home. Is deciding to gift a secure and happy life to myself and my son a crime?
I am being told again and again that my son is now my reason to live! But isn’t my being alive reason enough for me to live? Why does being a wife, and then when that is taken away, being a mother all that defines a woman?
I’d recommend you dig in and read more of those on Women’s Web, once your appetite has been whetted by this list.
Image source: Flickr
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In her role as the Senior Editor & Community Manager at Women's Web, Sandhya
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