Am I a feminist? This is something I am perpetually questioning myself about. I will give some context to my train of thoughts and then you will know what I am getting at. I am not of the opinion that I need special rights. Growing up, I have always been a fiercely independent person. Maybe it stems from the fact that I have always been around strong women, more so, my mother. She was a staunch believer of shunning patriarchy in all its hues and forms. When I was being admitted to kindergarten, as was the standard procedure, all parents had to fill up the admission forms for their wards. One of the questions was “What do you want your child to become, growing up ?”. The majority of the answers were like doctor, engineer, astronaut and so on. My mother was perhaps the only person to have written “I want her to become a self-made, independent woman growing up, no matter whichever field she endeavors to do so in.”. Each day, I am striving to do just that. As of this day, I am yet to achieve a lot in my life, but the one thing that I have made sure to have achieved already, is to be an independent woman. Be it being financially empowered, or be it in any other walk of life, like the choice of my clothes or the decision to go out on trips alone; I take into account, other’s opinions and view points, but I make sure not to be governed by them and have a mind of my own. That way I am the one solely responsible for all my achievements and failures alike and it leaves behind no room for any regret or misgiving.
Coming back to the topic of special rights, I am not of the opinion that I need special seats reserved for myself on the bus or metro. Nor do I need any special quota for myself in any educational institution. I am mentally and physically as capable as any guy around me. Physically, I have the same two hands and legs as him. So, I, a perfectly healthy individual, am perfectly capable of standing in a bus or metro just like him, when all the seats have been occupied. I would rather prefer giving up my specially reserved seat to an elderly person, irrespective of the gender and on several occasions I am proud to have done just that. Mentally too, I would like to think that I have the same capability as a guy and I would prefer to get that seat in that prestigious college based on my sweat, blood and tears alone and not based on any quota. Why should I be preferred over any guy, who has worked harder than me to get through, just based on my gender alone; while clearly, he is the more deserving candidate. So yeah, I am a feminist and I might be against male chauvinism but I am in no way an opportunist. I would advocate not for special rights for women but rather equal rights, equal pay across all fields, equal opportunities across every sector. I am not of the opinion that every time I go out for dinner with a guy, be it my significant other or be it a friend, he is the one who is supposed to pay. I earn too, have been doing so for the last four years. I am perfectly capable of paying my bills and paying for my share. I am of the opinion that there should not exist any such job be it in the army or be it in the mechanical sector that prohibits women from working there. Women may not be physically as strong, but they are equally capable as men. Do not give us special rights; just give us equal rights, equal pay, equal rights to vote, equal responsibilities, equality in all other life choices as guys; that’s my fundamental notion of feminism.
In India, the disparity between genders is so deep rooted at every level, that it would take ages to weed out even a few of them. Take menstruation as an example. Talking about it in hushed tones, not allowing women near the sanctum of temples, calling it a “ladies’ problem” and sweeping it under the rug are the some of the discriminatory behavior displayed by Indian society. So, no, I do not need a first day of period leave to be implemented in my company. I just want to be allowed to at least enter a temple and pray when I want to and not be shunned because I am going through a completely natural biological process.
So that is my notion of feminism. I would not like to be a damsel in distress. I would prefer to be my own knight in shining armor. It should be perfectly okay if I get married at 30 rather than at 25. I would like to be treated at par with men, rather than being treated like a ticking time-bomb because of my biological clock. Further, it should be perfectly okay if I am older than my guy or earn more than him; if I chose to support my parents after marriage or choose to fund my own wedding. It should be perfectly okay if I return late at times because of office deadlines or parties, perfectly okay if I chug more beer than a guy or not behave like a lady at all times. Why should I be treated any differently because of my gender?
So, I am a feminist, yes; but one who advocates not for special rights, rather for equal rights.