(Feminist icon Kamla Bhasin passed away in the wee hours of Saturday, 25 September. This video, which was first published on 10 June 2017, has been reposted from The Quint’s archives to mark her demise.)
The Snow Whites, the Cinderellas and the Little Red Riding Hoods of the world have a fundamental problem. They are designed to serve a certain purpose – to uphold society’s patriarchal status quo.
Girls in each of these fairly tales are projected as lesser beings, whose futures are dependent on the men who will come to their rescue. They are ‘damsels in distress,’ who are trapped in the clutches of an 'ugly witch’ or an ‘evil stepmom’. These tales only feature three, one-dimensional female characters – she is either a beautiful, helpless soul, or the antagonist. Nothing in between.
Just like these popular fairy tales, nursery rhymes seldom depict women as independent individuals. These stories are problematic, and they are sung to, told to, and sometimes taught, to young children. Some of these children go on to essay these characters in school plays, others play pretend – all the while internalising the fact that women need to be rescued.
Kamla Bhasin, a feminist-activist and the Founder of the Jagori NGO, fire-fights this narrative by rewriting textbooks for children.
In her book, men, women, boys and girls do everything. The man cooks and the woman goes out to work. The boys sew clothes and the girls play in the mud. Her books are available both at Jagori and online. Time to pick up a few books for the children in your life? #WeAllShouldBeFeminists
Cameraperson: Athar Rather
Editor: Kunal Mehra and Hitesh Singh
Illustrations: Mickey Patel and Swayam Parekh