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My grandfather was the first person in our village who stood up against ‘purdah’ system by simply telling my mother to stop doing it when she was married and came to his house. I must have been 10 years old and I still distinctly remember his words, “I stopped purdah in my house because I feel it’s torturous to suffocate her just because people feel that she is supposed to hide herself in order to stay respectful or whatever justification they give for it. I just don’t find it satisfactory enough. People are weak and slaves to the society and tomorrow you will see the entire village following it.” Today I find no women in purdah in my village; they definitely are liberated in some way. My grandfather was the first face of ‘feminism’ to me. The boundaries of feminism are not limited by this ‘typical-gender-stereotyped’ image of women as feminists.
Whenever I have been called a feminist, I have always wondered, is it because I am vocal about my thoughts or is it because I am a female attempting to stand up for her people? Though honestly I must confess I don't mind being branded a feminist but the idea which people perceive that I am anti-men is quite amusing. Feminism has got nothing to do with gender, it's an ideology. A credo which strongly aims at the upliftment of a certain type of ‘Homo Sapiens’ who are yet to reach a level of equality in terms of social freedom for whatsoever reasons, just or unjust. It's a philosophy which celebrates the strength of women and helps in changing society's notions about it.
I am not against men rather at times I feel sorry about the way men are being raised in our society; they just have a ‘single story’, as Adichie would say it. They are being desired by the society in general, they grow up under the constant burden of being the macho and becoming the bread-earner, to make it worst, their own mothers project her thoughts about his incapability to handle himself loudly to the world (sometimes proudly too, which I always find demeaning to his existence) and then ultimately with a lot of pomp and show they are being handed over to another female for further care and concern. I am not berating men, because it’s not their fault. Our society has shaped itself around this idea of men being a larger than life creature. I have no doubts about his capabilities but I have none about mine either and that’s the whole point. I just don’t feel that mere gender difference is making them any better. We complement each other and that’s how we had been created but somewhere down the line we forgot the whole concept of co-existence – the basic fundamental philosophy of life.
I believe we need more feminists around us. The idea of respecting each other for the simple reason of their ‘existence’ is more than enough to transform this world into a better place. Achievements are not gender based; they are simply focus and hard-work based. Together we can create a world where everyone is an achiever and everyone is celebrating for each other.