Aparna Shewakramani Says To Women: ‘Your Stories Are Worth Telling’

Our Orange Flower Award juror Aparna Shewakramani joins us to discuss the difference women make to the literary world when they voice their opinions.

As I browse the Women’s Web website, I see women putting forth an assortment of expressions. I see stories of growth, vulnerability, triumph, and anger. Personal or professional, these narratives add layers to the way women define themselves. They open a portal to the realities of women pan-India. 

The Orange Flower Awards, a Women’s Web initiative, is on the journey of honoring some of these authors. As a remarkable set of jurors assess nominee entries, we discuss the liberation women experience when they own their narratives with Aparna Shewakramani

Aparna has an academic background in law and is the author of the book, ‘She’s Unlikable: And Other Lies That Bring Women Down.’ We know her not only because of her screen debut in Netflix’s Indian Matchmaking but also because of her staunch belief that women do not need to adjust. For many, Aparna turned into an idol of feminism. We explore her perspective on writing, representation, and feminism. 

It’s all about the journey

Aparna reiterates the point she abides by in her book, “You don’t need to write your story only once you reach the mountain top. It can be along the way.” Putting forth your narrative as someone on the way to achieving their best holds immense power. Such is also the contribution of our authors. They share stories of transition that acknowledge the need for change through metaphorical or literal movement. 

Women experience the world differently and are often discouraged from vocalizing their problems. Aparna says, “Women might not feel worth telling their story even when it is merited. It is applaud-worthy when they move forward to tell their stories.” Truly women’s stories of breaking out of the cage also set an example for many others who experience self-doubt. But what about presenting your vulnerabilities to the world?

Putting forth your perspectives on a publicly-scaled platform can be difficult. Fear of judgment, and the biggest question of all, “Log kya kahenge?” (what will people say?) can make women rethink their need to post their narratives. To this, Aparna says, “When we write our own stories, it’s a win for womankind everywhere.” When women are vocal about their problems, they acknowledge them, tackle them, and motivate other women to rise. Aparna continues, “It is important for women all over to share their stories.” Such is the bond we need in a world where women’s concerns are, by default, perceived to be secondary. 

Being a feminist writer 

As a woman looking for a partner, not a husband, Aparna’s inner spark instantaneously came across as being a feminist. A spark that also makes itself seen and heard in her book. So, what does it mean to be a feminist writer, and what is feminist writing? 

Feminist writing covers the social, economic, and political situations of women. It is rooted in truth and experience and represents the realities of women based on their social standing.  

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For Aparna, it is about being transparent, accurate, and portraying your actuality in the best possible way. For her, authenticity binds feminist writers together. It is also a crucial factor that keeps her readers connected to her idea of womankind. She emphasizes, “Self-worth is important in every sphere of life. Your stories are worth telling.” She proudly states women are getting more recognition. Be it the diaspora or the local, women are being heard. 

Does this mean we all can be feminist icons? In simple words, Aparna says, “When I write my story, I am being honest about my situation, about my failures. I am being true to myself. I did not write about my journey to mimic anybody else’s. It is just my story.” Transparency is crucial in a sisterhood that uses literature to uplift other women. Being a feminist writer is about supporting your community while letting others learn from your experiences. 

The importance of role models and a community

“Owning your narrative does not mean completing your story. It means acknowledging where you are and staying true to yourself.” Her role models were responsible for showing Aparna the value of her voice. She talks highly about her mother and maternal grandmother, the two strong pillars that have helped Aparna stay true to her values. Aparna shares, “A support system is so important. The women in my family have been my role models.” Her takeaway for upcoming feminist writers is, “Look a little closer to home sometimes when you look for role models, and you will be surprised what you find.” You can also find your role models in your writing community. While they help you express yourself better, they also act as anchors who help you grow as a writer through constructive criticism. A strong writing community does not stop you from exploring your authentic self. Who is a part of your tribe? 

While a support system is crucial, remember it is your story. It is your journey. As writers who are feminists and promote feminism, it is also our responsibility to help each other up. Through fiction, non-fiction, advice, observations, and knowledge-sharing, the community of women writers can help their peers no matter where they are. Aparna’s thoughts and support for the sisterhood make her one of our fit jurors. She will be one of the jurors evaluating nominees in the category “#ReelsWithACause.” 

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About the Author

Rhea Sakhardande

I am a researcher working toward understanding the complex fabric of society. I have a Master's degree in Sociology and am currently exploring Diversity and Inclusion in corporate spaces. read more...

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