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Feminism For Which Woman?

Posted: August 23, 2020

Many women get left out in mainstream feminist discussions about empowerment and the inherent class/caste bias needs to be addressed for inclusive “equality.”

Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru ji had said, “You can tell the condition of a Nation by looking at the status of women.” These were the words of our first Prime Minister, an honorable man and one of the well known leaders of the Indian Independence Movement. “Man” don’t miss that because that’s an important word for various reasons.

Well , having the audacity to make his golden words more precise to fit into today’s situation let’s just say “if you really want to know the position of woman , look for her in the kitchen.” That sounds normal maybe and when you read this your head and heart might have already started warring to find emotions and logic, so let me ignite the fire even more.

The invisible victims of patriarchy

Next time when you go searching for mom in the kitchen and you end up seeing two of them- one being your mother and another one with some shabby dress or saree cleaning your utensils that you left in the sink last night after eating I hope you realize that we have been fighting for just one half of woman category (that is the part our mother’s belong to while the other half is the one cleaning the dishes having no idea about equality of seats in the bus, being privileged at work places or getting voting rights). For them maybe it’s the third or fourth generation working as house keepers and all of them “fortunately” according to them are woman.

We talk about equality of rights, positions, power and income of women with that of men but what we really miss out is the doubly oppressed woman who firstly have to suffer from the turmoils of being born a girl in a patriarchal society on top of that being a poor woman.

I am not here demeaning any woman but let’s just give you few instances about the oppression:

If a well to do woman is travelling in a public transport and seems to have got no vacant place to sit there can be two things happening
(I) she can voice out for herself , ask maybe a younger boy to stand up and give her a ladies reserved place to sit. Men being decent enough or at least understanding the idea of male physique(ego) being stronger don’t mind to stand, or
(II) a younger girl might leave her place to the lady if she asks her to help out. ( That happens a lot with me )

Layers of oppression

But when it comes to the underprivileged woman even if she manages to get a public transport she knows it for the fact that she has to be physically strong or at least act like she is one and keep standing till her destination arrives because men in most cases will definitely not let her sit thinking that it’s her birthright to suffer (and for the well to do woman they will obviously be unapproachable).

1) If a manager(woman) gets a paid leave for being sick , or attending a wedding , or going on a vacation. House maids are not allowed to do anything as such rather there are agencies that provide maids to these rich families with contracts of no leave specially during parties and festivals and if someone takes any, their payment might be delayed or get cut.

2) The double oppression does not only end here. On one hand women of the fortunate category have to face unfortunate situations like unequal promotions from office and gender biased job opportunities. There have been complaints filed by those servant providing agencies like “bookmybai” and “jobnukkad” that maids have been brutally beaten up by their house-hosts be it female or male. Not only this if a well to do rich family has an army of servants the female servants have to face misbehavior of the manservant too.

Inherent bias of class

I took the example of servants because this is the most common domestic observation that I have come across but that does not mean it only persists here. If it’s about double oppression that a lady doctor faces through male doctors because that’s the only patriarchal high she comes across at her work place, a nurse faces misbehavior both from doctors ,the ward-boys and still cannot approach the woman sitting on the higher position as they feel they are unapproachable.
Same goes for rural woman as compared to urban woman.
Honestly as Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak had talked about double oppression during post colonialism in her book “Subalterns” that somehow has been improvised by replacing just the white woman but it’s still so unfortunate that the subalterns cannot speak even now. I just have one question- Are we actually fighting against Patriarchy with just half a version of Feminism?

Image source: Pexels

Let my mind observe what my eyes could just see , so my hand can write

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