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Chetan Bhagat’s Heroine In One Indian Girl Is Not Feminist Despite Her Claims

Posted: October 6, 2020

Radhika Mehta, the protagonist of Chetan Bhagat’s One Indian Girl isn’t feminist in the real sense. Here are the reasons why. 

Chetan Bhagat’s novel One Indian Girl is written from a woman’s point of view for the first time, unlike his earlier works which were all written from the male viewpoint. The novel’s protagonist Radhika Mehta is an investment banker working at Goldman Sachs earning a very high salary.

Her eight figure salary might be a dream for other women around her but her own mother looks at it as a threat to her chances of getting a good match. According to her mother, a woman with a high income will have  difficulties getting a good match, as no man will accept a wife earning higher than him.

Okay with her mother’s double standards

Her mother is afraid of revealing her own daughter’s salary to the people coming to see her for marriage, instead of being proud of her achievements. But if it was a son in place of her daughter, then she would have flashed his salary as the first thing to attract good matches for him. Men are mostly blamed for inequality and gender discrimination but many women are also responsible for the same.

Radhika finally agrees to an arranged marriage after two failed relationships. Her first relationship with Debashish ended because he was not happy with his girlfriend earning thrice his salary and he wanted her to quit her job and take care of the house. Her second relationship with her married boss Neel (who was 20 years her senior) ended because he thought that she could either be a working woman or be a mother but not both at the same time.

She calls herself a feminist but listens to everything her conservative mother forces her to do, like hiding her real salary from the suitors or wearing an Indian dress in the hotel area where no one else is dressing like her just because she is getting married in the same hotel after some days.

Radhika talks a lot about feminism but she succumbs to an arranged marriage.

Problematic way of introducing herself

The novel’s blurb states:

Hi, I’m Radhika Mehta and I’m getting married this week. I work at Goldman Sachs, an investment bank. Thank you for reading my story. However, let me warn you.

You may not like me too much. One, I make a lot of money. Two, I have an opinion on everything. Three, I have had a boyfriend before. OK, maybe two.

Now if all this was the case with a guy, one might be cool with it. But since I am a girl these three things I mentioned don’t really make me too likeable, do they?

The tone in which Radhika is introducing herself doesn’t sound impressive. I don’t see any need for her to state that people won’t like her for the above three points. She can say the three points anyway and let people decide if they like her or not instead of saying them as a warning.

Just because she is a woman she doesn’t need to show off that she makes a lot of money. After all, she is not the only woman in the world to make a lot of money.

Judging women for their choices

Radhika calls herself a feminist but hates the way her elder sister dresses up in a more feminine way and the fact that she chooses to be a homemaker instead of a working woman. There is no need for her to put down another woman, that also her own sister, to show herself as superior. Feminism means respecting other women’s choices instead of putting them down.

Condones extramarital affairs

She calls herself a feminist but carries an extramarital affair with her married boss with two grown-up children. Okay, here Radhika, the other woman, can’t be entirely blamed as the man himself is cheating on his wife. But she can’t call herself a feminist when she has no problems in playing a part, along with her boyfriend, in wrecking a family.

She calls herself a feminist but gets waxing done to please her 1st boyfriend. Not only that, but she also has the audacity to say that she will prefer getting lashed like women in Saudi Arabia over waxing. Does she even understand the pain that such women go through?

Doesn’t understand the meaning of consent

She calls herself a feminist but during her bachelorette party she thinks that girls act like they don’t like attention from boys, but in their minds, they actually want male attention. Does anyone remembers Pink movie’s quote that ‘NO means NO’?

Wasting money unnecessarily on wedding

 The most shocking part of the story is the girl who calls herself a feminist agrees not only to an arranged marriage to a stranger due to her family and relative’s pressures but also spends a crore rupees for the said wedding. She agrees to marry a man, Brijesh, whose name she mocks as she has a problem with it.

After spending a crore rupees and with just a day left for the wedding, she calls off her marriage as she is unsure whether she wants to marry him or not. It’s okay if she did not want to marry him but why did she have to waste so much money on a wedding for which she wasn’t even  sure?

Just because she calls herself a feminist, she thinks it’s okay to waste so much of money to prove she earns a huge salary and can afford to waste without any problem.

There are many more things shown in the book which will make one doubt what feminism actually means. The main blunder is that the book is named ‘One Indian Girl’ which means the story is about one specific girl, but Radhika generalizes every woman with statements like “all women do this”,”all women love this”, “all women want this” and so on. Where is the choice in all this?

My final verdict is that if you are looking for a book on feminism, then don’t go for this one and waste you money. This book only lures people with its feminism bait when actually there is hardly any feminism shown in this book.

Featured Image Credit: Photo by DreamLens Production on Pexels

First published here.

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