I’ve been stalking a few desi feminist blogs here (love the way she writes) and here (love the news she brings up). Reading too many is no fun (neither is reading too many of the comments, to be honest). But it’s good to be in touch with reality, as it were.
For Indian women, the ideal of empowerment seems to be the Western woman. We like to think that the white woman with her golden hair (can’t be helped that most female foreign tourists we seen in India seem to be white and blonde!) and shorts and the freedom to travel alone has no worries caused by her gender. We like to think that rape is condemned strongly, that women don’t try to put other women down just because they feel threatened by them, that the workplace is a safe and non-intrusive environment and that well, a woman has full control of her reproductive health.
Turns out that it’s not true. Congress in America can’t decide what really constitutes as rape. While religion in India seems to decide that a woman can’t give birth to female children, religion in the West seems to decide that a woman can have no control of how how many (if any) children she should have. Forget that, even men seem to feel that they get to have full control over their partner’s reproductive health. Companies in Norway have decided that women should justify longer bathroom breaks with red bracelets. Even American women aren’t safe from the all powerful, all explaining “she asked for it”.
There’s no lack of sexism here in America either. Where is the freedom that we Indian women were so sure we would find? More than half the ads on TV feature women wooed by mops, discussing toilet paper, obsessing over appliances… We might as well be living in the fifties when all a woman can do is cook, clean and keep house. (the men get beer and Viagra. Not all that great a deal).
What’s my point? That frightening as it may be, that better off as women in America may be in many ways, there’s still nowhere in the world where women can say, this is it. This is where I can just be who I am and feel safe. What’s frightening to me is that there is no end to how easily women can be pushed aside, manipulated, victimized and just simply abused.
Maybe it’s time for Indian women to start trying to find what defines us than to aspire to some kind of Western ideal. Maybe it’s time for some serious thought. There’s more coming up on this topic. Stay tuned.