Beyond Controversy? Neena Gupta Clarifies Stance On 'Faltu Feminism'

In a candid conversation on a podcast recently, Neena Gupta sparked an internet debate by labelling feminism as 'faltu' or useless. However, Gupta contends that her words were selectively plucked from the interview to create controversy.

Oshi Saxena
Updated On
New Update
Neena Gupta

Neena Gupta Instagram

During a candid conversation with Ranveer Allahabadia, Neena Gupta sparked an internet debate with her thought-provoking take on feminism. Contrary to popular beliefs, she boldly asserted, "Men and women are not equal."  However, amidst the ensuing online chaos, Neena Gupta has come forward to clarify that her statement was taken out of context and used selectively for promotional purposes. 


Gupta, known for her candid expressions, had not only emphasized the importance of financial independence for women but also dubbed feminism as 'faltu' or useless.

The actor said, “I want to say that it’s not necessary to believe in faltu [useless] feminism or the idea that ‘women are equal to men’. Instead, focus on achieving financial independence and giving attention to your work. If you are a housewife, don’t look down on it. It is an important role. Boost your self-esteem and avoid thinking of yourself as small. That’s the main message I want to convey. Additionally, men and women are not equal. The day men start getting pregnant, that day we will be equal.”

Clarifying the Narrative

Neena Gupta, speaking exclusively to The Indian Express, sought to clarify the context behind her controversial remark. She revealed that a specific portion of her interview was isolated and used out of context to generate controversy. Gupta asserted that her intent was not to dismiss feminism entirely but to stress the need for a nuanced and thoughtful approach to the discourse.

“What they did is that they only used that chunk from the whole interview for promotions, to create a controversy. It said that I don’t believe in ‘faltu feminism’, and after that people are fighting amongst each other. If one person is cursing me for saying that, someone else says, ‘What do you know? Watch the whole interview’. There should be a reference to what I said.”

She expressed frustration at the ensuing social media furore, stating, "If one person is cursing me for saying that, someone else says, ‘What do you know? Watch the whole interview.’ There should be a reference to what I said.”


Breaking Down Neena Gupta's Stand on Feminism: Beyond 'Faltu Feminism'

Neena Gupta dismisses the notion of 'faltu feminism,' urging women to focus on achieving financial independence and embracing their chosen roles. Contrary to the equality narrative, she emphasizes the inherent psychological differences between men and women, stressing that equality does not negate the distinctiveness of their experiences.

In the face of historical oppression rooted in patriarchal notions, she highlights the contemporary importance of financial independence for women. Gupta's nuanced perspective extends to housewives, asserting that their choices should be respected and not perceived as diminutive. Ultimately, she champions the idea that being a woman entails living life by one's own choices, whether it involves heading board meetings or managing a household, emphasizing the prerogative of women to define their paths on their terms.



The Need for Men: A Perspective Rooted in Experience

Sharing a personal experience, Gupta emphasizes the imperative need for men in women's lives. "You need a man," she recalls.

Sharing her own experience, “You need a man. I will tell a small story. I had to catch a flight at 6 am. I did not have a boyfriend at that time. I came out of the house at 4 am and it was dark. A man started following me, and I was so scared. I went back to my house and I missed my flight. The next day, I booked the same flight. But I stayed at my male friend’s house and he dropped me off. I need a man.”

Her story of navigating a dark morning alone shows the vulnerability women may encounter. While this revelation stems from an experience decades ago, Gupta juxtaposes it with the present, emphasizing the progress made by both men and women. In the bygone era she reminisces about, situations like a girl stepping out at night were perceived as catastrophic. Gupta also sheds light on the restrictive norms prevalent during her college years, where familial restrictions extended to simple pleasures like watching movies with friends in a theatre.

The tone shifts to a reflective stance as Gupta recalls the hushed conversations surrounding love and the lack of awareness prevalent at the time. Her recollections encapsulate an era where discussions about intimacy were steeped in secrecy and misinformation was rampant. In her view, the need for a man isn't just a reliance on gender roles but a call for human support, especially in times of fear and uncertainty.


Navigating Low Self-Confidence: Neena's Reflections

"I would have capitalized a lot more opportunities if it wasn’t for my low self-esteem," Gupta reflects in younger self during the conversation. 

Beyond the feminist discourse, Gupta reflects on her journey, revealing struggles with low self-esteem. She candidly addresses how these struggles impacted her decisions and hindered her from fully capitalizing on life's opportunities. Recounting a time in her youth, she acknowledges being 'thankful for male approval', a mindset she now deems rubbish. Gupta highlights the enduring struggle women face with low self-esteem, recognizing its potential to disrupt their lives. In these reflections, Gupta's words echo the universal battle against low self-esteem, transcending the confines of gender and emphasizing its profound consequences for personal growth.

Parental Reflections: Mistakes and Lessons

The actor also admitted to making a mistake in her daughter Masaba's first marriage with Madhu Mantena, saying,  “Masaba didn’t want to marry initially. She wanted to stay in a live-in relationship with her future husband. But I was like, “No, you will not shift with him. You get married.’ It was a mistake, they separated. I was devastated, I never imagined this because my husband and I both loved and still love her ex-husband. He is a really nice man and nahi bani toh nahi bani (If they didn’t get along, they didn’t get along). When she told me, I was numb for a month. It was a very difficult time. It’s not in your hands, this is somebody’s else’s life.”

Her reflection ventures beyond the celebrity persona, offering women a glimpse into the vulnerabilities that accompany even seasoned individuals in their roles as parents. It beckons contemplation on the delicate balance between guiding and respecting the autonomy of the next generation.

Single Motherhood: Choices and Societal Pressures

"I don’t want to be an example of single motherhood," Gupta insists, rejecting the 'inspiration' label.

Gupta's journey as a single mother is marked by challenges and societal expectations. Reflecting on the time when Masaba was born, she recounts rejecting the notion of becoming an icon for single mothers. While some approached her expressing similar aspirations, she dismissed the idea of being an inspiration, advocating instead for every woman's right to choose without societal judgment. 

Acknowledging the societal challenges and varying mental courage, she advocates for motherhood decisions rooted in personal readiness, not external inspiration. Gupta also recalls that her biggest fear during Masaba's early years was the potential hindrance of school admission due to her single mother status, highlighting societal expectations shaping choices.

Her fear of societal judgment highlights the ongoing struggle women face in making choices that align with their desires.

What Women Want In Relationships: Gupta's Resounding Answer

As the conversation concludes, Gupta's unequivocal response to what women want in a relationship is simple yet profound: respect. She reflects on a time when women's needs were overlooked and their happiness and pleasure were relegated to fulfilling their husband's desires.

"Women never saw the light of romance in their relationships because they were not told they could ask for it." She reveals the painful era where women, devoid of romance, endured relationships without expressing their desires. 

Today's empowered women, regardless of age, seek camaraderie with girlfriends, embracing a life that celebrates the power of sisterhood. Gupta also encourages self-affirmation, advising women to consider themselves the best and be their support, catalyzing a transformative shift in perceptions of women's roles in relationships.

Neena Gupta's stance on feminism and the nuanced layers of her experiences call for a deeper understanding. Beyond the headlines, her narrative encourages a reflection on the intricate web of societal expectations, individual choices, and the evolving definition of equality.

Views expressed are the author's own.

equality neena gupta Feminism women and feminism