‘Woke’ Feminists of the World, Why Are You Silent at Home?
To all of you who identify as feminists, what does the word?
To all of you who identify as feminists, what does the word mean?
I’m a feminist, and a proud one. But there are instances from our daily lives which make me wonder whether we’re doing justice to the label we use for ourselves.
Silence Is Golden but Remember What Happened to Midas?
We’re the fearless advocates of women’s rights, we’re the home for the ones who seek shelter and love. Yet we maintained our silence every time dad blamed mom for the things that went wrong for him.
As children, it was really confusing for us to see fathers being given virtual trophies for, well… simply being fathers.
While dad was the one whose attention we craved, mom’s selfless dedication went unnoticed forever.
From rejecting the meal that took hours for her to prepare, to disconnecting her calls when all she wanted was to just hear our voice. Why didn’t we feel that anger for ourselves, the way we felt for those who made other women feel worthless?
Raise your hand if you ever undermined your mother’s worth! Yes, unfortunately I’m raising my hand too. Today, I’m as old as my mother was when she had me. While standing up for every woman, I feel guilty for not being able to do the same for my own mother.
We’re the generation of woke and young individuals. But on a scale of 1-10, what number would the needle hit if you tried the ‘wokeness identification meter’?
Little girls being told how difficult it will be to find a groom, by relatives who never cared. Young boys laughed at for showing emotion which they later told themselves to hold back.
We’ve witnessed these instances while growing up yet we overlooked them taking it for granted.
We say we want equality, when our own mothers are not considered on par with our fathers, sometimes even by us.
But is this inequality really just limited to our parents?
When Classism Blocked the Road to Progressiveness
From the house help to the famous parlour waali didi, paying them for their labour never meant we bought their rights. Even one of the most ‘progressive’ families I knew gave away three-day old leftover food to the person who made the effort to cook that same meal for them. And guess what? The same ‘progressive people’ expect their house help to feel grateful for the food they themselves wouldn’t touch.
I once saw a relative of mine humiliating her maid in front of the entire family. Her crime? There were 2-3 drops of blood on the living room floor, because she was on her period. The cloth she’d used wasn’t as good as the sanitary napkin she couldn’t afford.
This same relative in her rare moments of ‘feeling woke’ explains how she doesn’t like the phrase “women are their own worst enemy.”
I understand we can’t fix everything around us, but we do always have the choice to speak up if something doesn’t feel right, if not put an end to it.
Every time I intervened when dad said something unfair to mom, my relatives told me that I shouldn’t be picking sides, and that I should “treat them equally.”
Could it get more ironic? Like many of us, even my mother believes in feminism, but unsurprisingly she fails to apply its ideologies to her own situation thanks to all those years of deep-rooted social conditioning.
Tradition, Harrassment and Our Sealed Lips
Now let’s talk about our tradition and culture. Many of us love Holi – the festival of colours. I loved it too, till I grew up.
How many times have we seen male relatives or family friends touching the women inappropriately in the name of this festival? But did we ever see those women say a word, though their faces said it all?
Before you throw a, “but why didn’t she speak up if she was uncomfortable?” at me, give me a moment and I’ll explain.
I have seen two women in the situation mentioned above. Both tried speaking up on different occasions in that moment of discomfort itself. What happened next isn’t that hard to believe. They were told that they were creating a scene and ruining the festive spirit.
I mean c’mon guys, “Bura na maano Holi hai” is not code for “please let me harass you.”
Talking about harassment, how many of you have friends or relatives who got called out? And how many of you defended them with, “but he’s always been nice to me”?
How many of you questioned women for not being able to speak up earlier, or for not being able to provide “proof”?
Even Pablo Escobar was always nice to his wife and kids, but that doesn’t justify the number of people who lost their lives because of him.
You don’t have to go through something as harrowing as the survivors, to empathise with them.
To answer one of the questions thrown by the “jury outside the courtroom,” victim-shaming is one of the reasons people remain silent.
There are many instances that can be used as an example, but the point of all this is not to demean anyone, it’s to identify the times in our own lives when we chose to stay silent or look the other way. We have been conditioned in a certain way, but we always have the option of rewiring our conditioning.
It’s never too late to start trying. It’s never too late to begin again.
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