While Caitlin Moran and others try to convince you that being a feminist is a given (particularly for women), I have to admit that I have long fought the label that is Feminist. Over the years, it has developed a negative connotation and could be one of the reasons why I refuse to adhere to this tag. We live in a world where men and women suffer and I cannot be selective about channeling my voice and sympathies to a chosen gender. Yes, women suffer and have fought injustice as far as history can go but I cannot bring to label myself as a ‘feminist’ for the gut-wrenching feeling when I read about rape, murder and social inequality. In each case, it is equally true for men too. Can we not feel empathy as humans?
That was a long disclaimer, by the way.
When I was younger, I thought that labelling was great! If I had labels, it would speak strongly for who I was. But in all these years, I have learnt how dangerous it can be for us to label others. I am not ashamed to admit that I have changed my thinking; if anything, it is a natural course of learning, which seems to be a lost cause in today’s age of pseudo intellectuals fighting for attention on Twitter. When I earned labels: woman, Indian, Muslim, Burqa-wearing, my father’s daughter, married etc., I found myself suffocating in these perimeters.
It’s not something that affects a select few and there appears to be no correlation to education levels and background. I met someone from a completely different cultural background, with a more open-minded society (although Rajasthani female literacy standards are not particularly difficult to beat). Yet, we spoke of the same problem. She was tormented by the same labels as I was.
I am amazed at how it is taken for granted that as a girl/woman, you will conform. And if you don’t, you are considered to be a good-for-nothing failure, as if you have committed an irreversible wrong.
Does no one stop to think? Why are these rules different to what is expected of the men? As women, do we have to give up our right to dream, to be relevant, to have an ambition? We see men who lack ambition and have all the playing field but we see women who have ambitions but have to forget them because there is no place to exercise them.
This brings out the stubborn revolutionary within. I don’t want my children to inherit hateful legacies and unreasonable societal creations. We must put an expiry date on these notions; it is the only way forward.