It is not easy to introduce feminism in a patriarchal family. It is shut out as an unrealistic theory that has no practical implication. But some women make it a point to not only change their lives through feminism but of their families too. I did the same. I introduced feminism to my family by making my choices its manifestation.
I grew up amidst patriarchal oppressions. I was sexually harassed by multiple men. I witnessed domestic violence between my parents and the adultery of my father. Feminism was an alien concept to me until I started my graduation. The fusion of literature by women and feminist theories by philosophers built the base of feminism in my life. The stories of women’s oppression that I read made me see the injustice that I and the women in my family faced. I began realising that the “unusual” experiences of my life were the consequence of patriarchal control in my life. And the tales of women’s assertion of their rights and opinions then gave me hope to shatter the patriarchal control in life.
How I Changed
Once I became a feminist, my choices and opinions automatically underwent a drastic change. I was not ready to accept injustice and enforcement just because I was a woman. I began to question every instance where women’s agency was thwarted and male ego reigned. I questioned everyone- my parents, the most respected elders and the most loved younger ones.
As a consequence, a divide was created between me and my parents. My parents valued their reputation in a patriarchal society which was being threatened by my tendency to question. They wanted me to conform to the patriarchal expectations and give up my “unrealistic” perceptions of life. “Step in the real world. Get over your imaginations and theories”, is what my father said each time I talked about feminism.
It’s the colour of my money
But after building a strong feminist base in life, I was not ready to budge. Soon my career transformed and I became a part of a feminist organisation. Now feminism was not only the colour of my lifestyle but my money too. I became an embodiment of feminism in my family. It was this stronghold of feminist ideals that promised to change my family’s thought process. It introduced the idea of gender equality as a need of the hour.
Today, my beliefs encourage my siblings, both male and female, to own their choices in life. My mother has begun to question the injustice that she accepted as the norm. My father expressed his opposition to patriarchal society and favoured gender equality.
I won’t say that my family is completely free of patriarchal control. My father still scolds my mother and invalidates her opinions and concerns. My mother still imposes patriarchal restrictions on her daughters. It is a long process and will take much time to change. But feminism is slowly building its ground in my house. And I hope my firm resistance to give up my feminism will strengthen the feminist base of my family. Because amidst the patriarchal cacophony, a single loud feminist voice is often enough to turn the tables.
Views expressed are the author’s own.