I don’t remember when I started to feel the urge to fight for my rights, to be felt equal as my brother in my own house. Perhaps, it was a process. Perhaps, even before I knew the exact meaning of this term. Perhaps, even before I even knew that such a term exists. Never have I ever encountered a single woman who hasn’t been harassed in her life, who hasn’t felt safe enough to step out of her house at a given time, who hasn’t felt uncomfortable about the length of her clothes. Thus, the question, have I done enough for the tribe? I remember sitting in a cyber cafe near my house when I was 10 years old. My mother dropped me there and went to buy some groceries in the same market. I was alone there, except for the guy who worked there and has always known me and my family. He sat beside me and started groping me. I sat there, smiling awkwardly. I was uncomfortable, scared even. That was the first-ever incident which has made me feel scared, as a woman. The guy still works there and I see him every time I go there. Did I ever report him to the authorities? Did I ever share the incident with the guy who runs the place? Did I ever make an attempt to save other women from an attacker like him? No. Perhaps then, I failed as a feminist.
“Driving and women don’t really go together”, “Dude, the girl was so into me, it was me who rejected her. Because, hello? Have you seen that fat ass?”, “What would you like to drink? Oh, vodka? Yeah, that is a woman’s drink”, “Look at his hands when he’s walking. He walks like a woman, oh god”, “What is with all that makeup. I prefer women who remain natural”. I was there with my friends when they made such remarks, both men and women. I did not tell them that no, not all women are bad drivers, not all men are good drivers. It is just a skill that is not gender-specific. I should have said that you’re being extremely disrespectful and shallow when you reduce a person’s personality to their looks or when you think that the person is unlikable because they’re fat. I was wrong for not saying it to their faces that someone’s liking for a particular drink or the way they walk, just does not determine how adhering they are towards their sex. Why did I not tell them that all these comments do not make them look cool, they are sexist ad anything but funny. Did I let them get away with these remarks? Am I still friends with them? Yes. Perhaps then, I failed as a feminist.
I remember helping my mother do the dishes and thinking that why my brother does not do it. Why both, my father and my brother were the ones who were watching TV while my mother and I were doing the chores. Even now, the first person to be called to get stuff from the market is my brother. I am the one who goes only when he is unavailable. I have never encountered any member of my family telling my brother that it is his duty to sometimes help my mother in the kitchen. But I do remember hearing from the same set of people to do the chores when my mother is unavailable or just too tired to do it. It will not come up straightforwardly, even roaring that the two of us are not equal. Perhaps even if we are, the division of the chores does not compliment the speculation. Thus, patriarchy functioned intrinsically, the division of chores on the basis of genders happened almost automatically. Did I try to convince my family persistently to ask my brother to do something my mother would usually? No. Did I subdue and kept quiet in the fear that things might get an ugly turn or I might be just misunderstood in general? Yes. Perhaps then, I failed as a feminist.
I have seen memes circulating on Instagram, some really nasty ones. One of which had a woman dancing because now, with the Covid-19 lockdown, her husband would not be able to consume alcohol and beat her. Because, hello? What is domestic violence if not a joke? I have seen people being nasty in the comments section of a half-naked picture of Kiara Advani posted by her and the same set of people going gaga over Vicky Kaushal’s similar picture. I have also come across posts that slut-shame Neha Dhupia and question her character because of the comment made by her on a reality show. Did I call the person out for posting as offensive and disrespectful as this? Did I at least, report such stuff? No. Was I afraid that calling the same person out would tamper ur relationship? Maybe. Perhaps, I failed as a feminist.
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