#FeministConference: Feminism Means Different Things
Continuing the dialogue on feminism and what it means to different people. Here’s more on what the speakers said about what Feminism means to them.
You can’t call yourself a feminist without involving men and boys to be part of the solution. Feminism is gender-neutral. We need to find ways to engage them and other genders in our discussions and debate around the issues we face, and help them embrace feminism – not run away from it.
Nishtha Satyam, UN Women, Deputy Country Representative, India, Bhutan, Maldives and Sri Lanka
Feminism, more like inter sectional feminism, is a way of life for me. It has empowered me to a very large extent and what was once denied to generations of women before me has now become a matter of choice for me. Today I am an independent, educated and liberated woman only because of feminism.
Amena Azeez, Plus-Size Blogger and Body Positivity Advocate
Feminism, after journeying over decades and waging several mutinies has splintered into many things to many women, as any movement that aims at evolution or revolution should. For me, feminism is about moving on from us to them. It is about making room for compassion. For pivoting from #MeToo to #ThemToo. Feminism is about creating room for dialogues that go beyond Women versus Men. Feminism to me is about creating a better world with room for all sides of the story. It is about creating a world with more opportunities to build bridges, than one battling to burn the existing ones.
I have learnt feminism at the feet of the women who have struggled every day with the world, and themselves and have come away stronger and better for it. I am inspired by women who did not allow themselves the luxury of self-pity and soldiered on to give those after them greater opportunities, paving the way for a better tomorrow.
Priyanka Sinha Jha, Senior Journalist, Author, Digital Media Specialist, Co-founder www.talkietive.in
The research I did on female foeticide jolted my conscience and revealed from very close quarters the pain of women in India. It was undiluted patriarchy as killer. That in a sense was quite a turning point for me. I had been an activist from my student days and been involved with people’s movements. In the early 1990s, I was part of an informal association of women who travelled by the Ladies Special train and I edited a multilingual newsletter that reflected the concerns of my sisters. Those years organising women on the train were extremely insightful and inspiring. Yet, it was only after the female foeticide research that I came face-to-face with the utter horror and ugliness of misogyny. I became a feminist.
Svati Chakravarty Bhatkal, Head, Social Media, Paani Foundation
Feminism to me is right to be yourself. It’s more about equity than equality. The right to live with freedom irrespective of caste, class or. Gender.
Beena Pallical, National Co-ordinator- Campaigns, NCDHR-National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights
The benchmark of my existence isn’t a man. My rights…what I have, what I don’t, should not depend on what a man has, or doesn’t. For me, it’s just a coincidence that a man exists in the same space I do. That a man was also born when I was.
Juhi Chaturvedi, Screenwriter
Feminism to me the very simple concept that men and women are equal. Unless we accept and understand this inherent equality in all aspects of our lives, personally, professionally and socially, women will need to stand up and speak out for themselves, whenever they encounter biases.
Kiran Manral, author, Ideas Editor, Shethepeople.TV
To me, feminism means a sense of equal belongingness to this world. This world and the immense opportunities it holds are as dear to me as they probably are to a man, so why must my sex/gender come in the way of enjoying a wholesome, fulfilling life? Come to think of it, it’s kind of unfortunate that we even ‘need’ feminism–shouldn’t the world (read people) accord equal importance to the real and lived experiences of all people? And shouldn’t justice between the sexes be a virtue worth upholding no matter what? Because we have collectively failed as people with empathy is the reason we need feminism.
Nirmika Singh, Editor, Rolling Stone India, Singer, Lyricist
Feminism to me means humanism. It means to me a struggle for equality, dignity and fairness. It means sexual and economic empowerment and respect for our choices and voice. Feminism is not a shrill propaganda of how women can do anything a man does and a clarion call that all men are rapists and therefore the enemy. I believe feminists have a larger purpose and that is to stand up to any form of human injustice, and strive for a world which is gender inclusive.
Sreemoyee Piu Kundu, Author
Feminism to me means equal rights and opportunities for women in every sphere of life so that our mothers , daughters , sisters , friends and just women In general can live with dignity. Everyone should be a feminist in my opinion.
Sushant Divgikar, Director, Mr Gay World South Asia
“Feminism to me has always meant respect and dignity to one and all irrespective of gender, class, caste, religion or creed. Men have no reason to feel threatened by feminism, because the core concept of feminism I believe is rooted in the idea of equality and respect, in the broader sense. And it doesn’t mean to label men as bad. Male bashing or misandry is not feminism. But if men do mistakes, they will need to be called out.”
Harish Iyer, Gender Rights Activist
At this point of time, where I consider my self to be in the “privileged lot” feminism is more about fighting and overcoming my inhibitions of what I can achieve or not by the virtue of being a woman. It’s about my validation that comes from me. In my scheme of feminism I am everyday trying to break away from the social conditioning of what is expected out of me. I’m trying to get rid of the emphasis on the cover (how i look) so that i can solely concentrate in the content of the cover.
Dolly Singh, Plus-Sized Yoga Practitioner, Body Positivity Advocate
Feminism for me is not having to ask for opportunities, rights and my place in the world.
Shruti Seth, Actor
In India feminism has never been simply about women. It has been tied to larger issues like colonialism, nationalism, development, and the conflicts we are seeing in democracy today. It has been needed to defend the social, political, economic and cultural rights of women, especially in rural areas where women face ghastly social inequality and discrimination. Regardless of our caste, colour, country or cunt-size, we must get together to help each other out. We free-range vaginas must not be reduced to pussies. That is feminism: playing neither victim nor perpetrator, but playing by our own rules. It’s about making our own choices. It’s ultimately about creating our own access to equality and agency – agency to our private and public space – even if we have to Arnab Goswami on every issue.
Meghna Pant, Author
Feminism has meant a new way of life for me, one without fear. It has empowered me to live out and proud as a queer-identifying person in a country that does not recognize same-sex relationships. It has led me to challenge patriarchy, homophobia, and privilege. I owe it a lot.