I have always been fundamentally against the idea of ’empowering’ women. Because to empower someone, one automatically assumes or first accepts that they are weak. Secondly, women are not mute beings who need someone else, especially a male, to demand their rights.
The gender equation in our society is quite ironic because the source all human existence – the womb lies with woman. Delving into the historic origin of such an imbalance is pointless because the social construct then was very different. Today for example, despite the advent of new media as a strong platform for increased social awareness and accountability- injustice against women exists in all of society. In my view, this is because there has been no conscious & collective effort to change the narrative.
I am not a feminist because in many ways taking this stand has become a way for opinion leaders, social activists – including women to be heard in the media or take the cake in conversations. During one such public interaction, I happened to ask a so called ‘staunch feminist’ (read: prime time activist) who was busy bashing the male breed and talking about the need to protect women working at night – if she would be willing to set an example and join me on a night vigil in Gurgaon, an area known for notorious crimes against women. She figured the question was a serious one and therefore the answer was just like anything you would hear on The News Hour – inconclusive.
Being in the social impact domain, I have the unfortunate privilege to know many who have started organisations or movements with a similar theme at the opportune moment since such matters are quick at attracting likes, sympathy and tonnes of media attention – cause its the right thing to say/do. Am not being a cynic, but to me it is more of an insult to the cause if it is being leveraged for gaining attention and popularity.
On the other hand, I am encouraged to hear about organisations such as SEWA (Self empowered women’s association), Kranti or Pratham who are quietly making powerful transformations in the lives of thousands of women across the country. I have never seen either of its founders, also women, talking about how feminist they are.
It is true when they say “men will be men”. But that does not mean women must accept status quo. Look at the example of Trupti Desai who is storming into temples. It is only action that will either drive a strong mindset change or force society to accept its structural fault and give women the rights & voice which is by law of nature – theirs. It is when we see more women like the kind of Kiran Majumdar Shaw, Indra Nooyi come up – that the corporate world will automatically (be forced) to change their outlook towards gender discrimination. Top down change at scale will also also commence then.
I am not a feminist because I don’t want to just say it. I want to see/actually make a difference.