Monday, March 9, 2009

Feminism's Last Sigh...?

Women’s Day . this has appeared in TIMES LIFE on 8th March, Sunday.

Feminism's Last Sigh....??
There are days when I say to myself, “ Wow!! Being a woman is the best thing that has happened to me.” Such days used to be frequent. Say, in a calendar year, these words would have echoed my sentiments at least 200 out of the 365 days. Not anymore. They average 100 at best. And even then, I catch myself asking, “Just who am I kidding?” Sad. If I can say or feel or think such a thought, imagine how utterly awful life must be for the vast majority of women in our country. Those anonymous, nameless, faceless, futureless females who wake up each day of their wretched lives cursing the Gods that brought them into this world as women. Isn’t it shameful that this is so? I look around me at so-called elite, educated, empowered ladies and wonder just how ‘empowered’ they really are behind the sham of being power ladies and women who ‘have it all’. The sad truth is women are the world’s most marginalized minority. And unlike other minorities, there is nobody to represent this target group - where it counts and when it counts. We continue to get beaten, raped, sold, murdered, traded,burnt, stoned, maimed, humiliated and exploited on each and every level, each and every day. Our crime? Gender.
Which is why I can’t write a jaunty, cheerful piece about how wonderful it feels to be a woman and how we should all be celebrating this great day, reserved especially for us. I’d be lying – once again – to myself, if I did that. Perhaps I’ve picked the wrong day to pen this. Perhaps I should have waited for the present mood to pass. That is what I’ve taught myself to do. That is what most women do. They wait. We have been waiting since the beginning of time. And where has it got us?What has changed?Please don’t flaunt the usual suspects and say, “Oh…. but look at Hillary Clinton, Sonia Gandhi, Oprah Winfrey…. such accomplished, successful ladies, who have achieved so much – much more than most men.” Sure, go ahead and look at them. Do you see yourself? No? Surprised that you don’t? Or worse, resigned? That’s just the point. For every Hillary\Sonia\Oprah, there are millions – yes, millions – of women who live and die in grief. Daily grief which falls on them like steady rain that never lets the sun shine through those brooding dark clouds.Besides, who can look into the hearts and souls of our female icons to find out just how happy they are? We love to hang on to the many myths surrounding highly successful ladies – that they have mastered the life-balance ratio, that they are the way they are because they’ve challenged the status quo, rewritten rules, broken barriers, shattered glass ceilings. If so, good for them. But how does that help the rest of us? The ones who continue to struggle each and everyday just to stay alive… breathe…. eat… without getting crushed…. verbally, emotionally, physically, financially?
Sorry if this is reading like an epitaph for the Feminist movement that my generation had invested so heavily in. Most of the movement’s leaders are dead or in retirement. The few still left, appear weary and morose. They tried. They really tried. But their efforts weren’t good enough. It isn’t about legislation. It isn’t about money. And it certainly isn’t about sex. True and lasting liberation is about the evolution of the species. So long as inequality rules, there is no hope for real freedom. Female emancipation in such a scenario is doomed to remain where it has been stuck for centuries. Man is not known to willingly give up a single inch of territory. He can’t. He won’t. So… where does that leave us? Aha – now here’s where we can and should score. We have spent enough time on our brains. It’s the womb’s turn now. The womb is a women’s most lethal weapon. It creates life. Till such time as a substitute can be found for it, women are comparatively secure. Remember : Wombs are our monopoly. Exploit the situation. Play to win. Your time starts NOW!

**************************************************************************************

HAVE HAD A HUGE AMOUNT OF RESPONSE TO THIS COLUMN. Makes me think I'VE TOUCHED A SECRET CHORD SOMEWHERE. AM I RIGHT?

To add to the angst, I watched two disturbing movies back to back. Both featured the invincible Kate Winslet - this decade's Meryl Streep. What courageous performances, particularly the one in 'The Reader'. Dus janam main Bollywood will not be able to get there, either in terms of content, treatment or performance. Even though her role in The Reader was far more nuanced, I thought she was equally brilliant in 'Revolutionary Road'. Di Caprio was no match, even though he valiantly tried to keep up.

*******************************************************************************

The only uplifting moment that saved the weekend from being a total washout was the inspiring fashion show staged by the very special students of the SPJ Sadhana School for mentally challenged children and young adults that I attended. Put together most ably by Hemant Trivedi and his design team, 'Because.... I am,' brought tears to my eyes each time those wonderful people walked the ramp to thunderous applause. The sad thing is, even after 35 years of dedicated and difficult work, the school is short of funds, and this year, even the event sponsor backed out at the last minute. But the show went on - and what a show! It would be great if all of us supported the efforts of the team that works tirelessly to assure dignity to the lives of the less fortunate. You can email : spjsadhana@gmail.com for more info. All donations are exempt under u\s 80 G. Come on Blogdosts. Go for it.

28 comments:

Push Vs Pull said...

Yes ! I kind of liked the thread but i guess it was a bit tense for me. Issues which are appropriately addressed sad but true case. I guess this goes for a women's day Special covered by Kareena Kapoor

About the "SPJ Sadhana School" issue which was really good even Queenie Dhody has mentioned about this school in her article of Times of India or Mumbai Mirror column (Sunday Times, Mumbai Edition).

It's school for special children from last 35 years.

Peace !!

Jai Hind !!

Sidhusaaheb said...

I am all for egalitarianism. However, rather than the completely unilateral view presented here, it's important to look at the other side of the coin as well, to form a more balanced perspective, I think.

Please see:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Men_are_being_harassed_says_womens_panel/articleshow/2381622.cms

Apparently, the law in question has no provisions for punishing those who misuse it.

Sanket Korgaonkar said...

First off - I agree that we need to do a lot more to level the field when it comes to gender discrimination. However, I do not agree with the tone of this piece.

Women immediately assume and always have assumed the role of a VICTIM - this puts you on the defensive even before the battle begins. Taking your example - look at what happens to victims in the animal world - irrespective of gender, the weak are always ruled. So here is my first piece of advice - You want equal treatment from Men - Erase the idea from your brain that you are weaker. Yes - you will face problems but swallow it and don't crib. At work - approach Men from a position of assumed equality and strength. Men respect strength - not cribbing. A Man is taught - that when a problem arises -he can not talk about it (portrays weakness) he has to fight it - fight is the primary instinct - you want to know why men don't take women seriously??? Its not just about the gender - its the image you have built - you have to overcome your natural instinct to talk it out - and replace it with concrete hard action. You see a promotion being given to a guy when it rightfully belongs to you - confirm your convictions - and then go all battle. Fight this at each and every chance. Change will come slow - but it WILL come - because guys respect strength.

On the aspect of womb being your strength - I don't think women are unaware of it at all. SInce the beginning of time, women have always used sex to their advantage. Even today you will see a majority of women succeeding in their marriages by using their right to veto sex.

And while I am at it - let me just point out - the inequality in laws - in India and here in the US - if a woman goes to a police station and files an FIR for rape - no matter who the fault was with - it is the man's responsibility to prove himself innocent. As far as rape is concerned - the Man is assumed guilty until proven innocent. I have known many cases in which women have used this to extort and black mail their way into what they want. Which is only an extreme version of ....... whats the phrase ?? ' Sleeping your way to the top!!'

Women have reservations in getting higher education seats. I don't see you feeling ashamed about that.

You really want to make a difference - then NON CO_OPERATION is your way. In every walk of life the two genders are meant to be working together - you throw this balance off - and any Man will come to his senses. So, first off learn to swallow pain - second off turn your frustration into anger - anger into action - and stop co-operating until you get equal rights. Gandhigiri - as he would have undoubtedly suggested it.

Oh! And De, I do wish the rest of the days of your year - you were born a Man and entrusted with the protection of you and your family - physically, emotionally and financially. Its not just a concept, its a 24/7 state of mind - and its no fun either!! So rather than victimizing the female gender and ridiculing Men - it would be a good change for you to acknowledge them.

- Sanket Korgaonkar

(sanket.korgaonkar@gmail.com)

-=A.R.N.=- said...

Feminism is dead...and you know why? Because the feminists killed it.

Of course, the original idea was "liberating" a woman from her bonds of domestic labor and violence. Somehow, they got it into their head that a woman's sensuality is her most powerful weapon which must be exploited at all possible levels.

The feminists were naive enough to play into this; and the 'men' were already laughing all the way to the bank.

The end result?
That column you just forwarded.

*Sigh*

ranjitha said...

Ma'am,

I enjoy reading all your posts, from the time when I discovered your blog! But this
one, have to say, is very disturbing..I was expecting an enlightning article from you about the day..You still think women are the marginalized minority??

Its not woman alone who struggles to stay alive everyday, its the man too, who more than for himself, struggles for his family, which ofcourse include, his mom, wife, sister, daughter.. women they are..

And yes, women do get beaten up, raped, sold, murdered..But thats done by criminals who dont deserve to be called as men! They are beasts..

Iam not Hillary Clinton or Sonia Gandhi, But I can say "Wow!! Being a woman is the best thing that has happened to me.” all the 365 days!

U really think this differenciation is required in this era? Who else should stop this ,if not we, women!!

selva kumar said...

i read a story , a woman gives birth to a child. she holds the child in her hand and smiles at her lovingly but in a moment she becomes angry and wild looking at the child and so, eats it with her own hands and kills it.

i hope we, as humans don't make mother nature angry lest she should swallow us all. and shoba de's message is a reflection of that anger.

vinitac said...

What you say is perfectly fine. There hasn't been any significant development in the way women are viewed at and treated. Yet, it's a matter of pride that we have imbibed the virtue of humility, patience and endurance. That way we have defeated men !

Sameer said...

Shobhaa,

Liked the article. I am glad you are posting these newspaper articles in your columns.

I was glad that you provided a realistic picture of what women go through or how it feels being a woman, even today. At times we like to operate in a fancy land where we use and see examples of few successful women in power, in society and say " see, how much progress women have made?" Being a man, I hear that all the time from my male colleagues. But when you see it on a macro level and look at the statistical data, women are really not at par with men in terms of social status, pay, household decisions etc. I see SSC and HSC topped with women and higher % of women passing these exams than men. But then when you see the % of women in the workforce or in the higher ranks, it is still dominated by men. So, where do these women go in bteween SSC/HSC till they start working. Unfortunately Indian women are still faced with social expectations from family, society where their own thoughts, choices and career aspirations are not given due importance. We need to change this and we need to change it now. Even in well educated homes I have seen, although beating a woman might be rear, mental harrassement is still common. Their personal freedom of thoughts and expressions is still not respected. I believe men play a critical role in changing this. We, as men, need to take responsibility for what we say, how we think and how our actions and thoughts are perceived by other gender. (Not what our intent was but how it was perceived or what was the ultomate result).

I am glad you are raising awareness about mentally challenged kids. My mom worked for Kamayani Vidya Mandir, a very famous school in Pune for mentally challenged kids. Growing up, we have seen the plights of these students and parents - mainly because of how society traets and views them. I personaly have strong admiration for the wonderful talents these kids have in other art forms. Not sure if you have seen marathi movie 'Chaukat Raja' which was on this same subject.

Sakshi said...

At the risk of being completely wrong, i've found the balls to write this. Please don't bash me, i am open to changing the way i think. Really.

I don't see a reason why i should stop celebrating the fact that i am a woman. I like to believe i chose to be a woman (Ah! Freud) because i love to be that... That we are sold/beaten/maimed doesn't stop me from believing that being a girl is, indeed, the best thing that ever happened to me.(or i did to myself)

Yes, a lot of us are subjected to inhuman behaviour but there are many of "our kind" who are behind it. I don't see why one can't be gay and cheerful about something and continue to look at the dark side. It's not about turning a blind eye to the grim reality or about stop being realistic but about celebrating the illumined side, however bleak it may be, its still a silver lining.

And about having to wait, even men do that! Everybody does! Big deal. You have a problem with waiting, don't! Find a way out or settle for the second best...
What is this whole thing of equating ourselves with men and finding us inferior? We are not! We are just fundamnetally different...and thank God for that! Feminism, for me, isn't about male bashing or going "We do all the waiting in life, they don't", "I've never seen a man seeking advice on how to balance marriage and career"...It is just, i don't know...maybe having freedom to choose and decide for ourselves, keeping the various circumstances in mind.

And about the oppressed women, high time they raised their voices. Feminists can't be fighting their battle for them. They can only help by joining in, the first cry has to come from the woman who is being victimised. She has to realise that she can live her life without her pati parmeshwar who doesn't have anything better do do than getting drunk and beating her up.

That's all i have to say, i guess. I can see it doesn't really link with your piece. Sorry. :P
Happy women's day ma'am!

Sakshi.

Sakshi said...

Oh and please! Men are important! However much we like to hate them and call them the bane of womanhood on earth, we know we love them and can't do without them. They make our lives happening and interesting,(it doesn;t follow that our lives aren't h&i without them) even if that's by being a complete asshole that most of them are.

Sakshi

Hobo ........ ........ ........ said...

Maa tujhe salaam...

Push Vs Pull said...

Guys don't post your comment just for the sake of it!

((You-know-it-all & i-don't-care-types)) (wanna-be-your-type-cool)

but then every post has it's own charm if you can post your comment in subjective way otherwise carry on fooling yourself.


I guess shobhha is shobhha in her own way but you don't need to sound as if you are some sorta ...blah blah cry baby for no reason !!

Keep it guys !!
Keep blogging keep rocking along.

Jai Hind !!

A. K. said...

Happy Women Day!

@lankr1ta said...

Lets see, it is better for a lot more women today than it was 450 years ago. i like living now, since I am pretty emancipated. but it can be better for our oppressed sisters- and will get better in the future. no feminism is not dead, only a lot more relevant. I would not call Sonia Gandhi very liberated, nor Indira Gandhi because they got where they did by virtue of birth or marriage, anathema to feminism. Hillary, yes, Oprah yes, not Pratibha Patil either. You yes.

Mahadev Kapuskari said...

Hallo shobhaaji...
You are absolutely right about these successfull womens i.e.Hillary Clinton,Sonia Gandhi,Oprah Winfrey etc.
I want to add a name who is most honourable for me that is Shobhaa De.
Obviously u r a most successfull lady and that too more than any man.Isn't it ?

Zlaek said...

"...evolution of the species"
--the same makes us who we are today, surely.
But i really think it's more about most women's own willingness toward such treatment (at a deeper level).
It's about their ackowledgement of this inequality.

(I do understand you're speaking for the majority)

Apoorva Ekbote said...

Alas the Feminism's Last Sigh!! I guess it was always coming and after the recent turn off horrific event, finally you(Shobbha) have come out with an epitah on feminism.

Actually after you intiated the Sita Sena campaign against the so called Ram Sena's Senagiri, I was relived that atleast someone has stood up and took the intiative against the Senagiri, but alas the gloomy outcry by you has totally let me down. I think its only celebrities like you who can gather the masses and start such intiatives again Senagiri.

Rather feeling lost & marginalized you should start gathering more support against Senagiri and all the oppressive activites.

What do you think?

Anon said...

I am totally digressing from the issue under discussion but please please why on earth do people act as if an ambulance is another car to be held up or overtaken?? Its pathetic absurd awful why can't people realise its a life at stake!! We need a huge amount of awareness of this it could be the difference between life & death if there are no designated lanes for an ambulance the least we can all do is make way for them. Its been boiling my blood since some days today was a huge wake up call. Thankfully none of my loved ones but who knows?? Shobhaa let's raise swareness for this please! Blog dosts what say you???

Sanket Korgaonkar said...

Now the comments on this page is what I call a pure exhibition of Indian democracy at its best. Someone ever asks me why can't we get anything done - I'm gonna point to this page. After all debate is only useful if it leads to statesmanship - else its all drama.

- Sanket

ne2 said...

It's always easier to sit a few hours on technical gadgets & be critical to someone's piece of writing whereas it requires persistent, painstaking and life long efforts of an author to experience, study and analyze the character and make up of a society - the society we live in- the society which is ever changing and subject to many challenges.

An article about feminism/women empowerment is most awaited from Shobha De and we should welcome her thoughts unconditionally. No questions of liking or disliking it. Just wish you could be more encouraging. It was women’s day.

Shobha, do you still feel women are marginalized minority and they got no representation? Even if we accept that women are in minority, isn't it hard to accept that there is none to represent them? Don’t you feel each woman represents herself and a whole new world in her today?? What about millions & billions of women who are working harder and better; day and night, fighting against men (sometimes within the women too) for a better tomorrow, a better society, a better civilization and a better quality of life? What about anonymous women in villages and towns; homes and offices; yesterday and today who often look up to their female icons, not just for representation but mostly for their silent support, encouragement,and guidance.And sometimes to see their own reflection in them??

Abhishek Kumar said...

What do you mean by "Wombs are our monopoly. Exploit the situation. Play to win. Your time starts NOW!"

What do you suggest women do? Blackmail the society to get their rights lest the entirety of humanity will come to a standstill? Nobody will fall for that. Neither is that ever going to happen.

IMO Society can only change in one manner - gradually. And through one route - education. And its happening.

Sakura said...

Very True. But Yes I also agree with Zlaek. It is women who succumb to the inequality.

Thumbs up to SPJ Sadhna

Rhett said...

i don't like the idea of women using their womb -- and the connocation is sex?! -- as I infer from the comments. To use a very strong expression, I think there is something sub-human about it.

I was with you till the end of the aticle but I dont like that one idea.
yes, i do acknowledge it as a fact that women have traditionally been licked by men right since they wrote Manu smiriti.
I think education is the key.

You know there are always some problems in he world which are -- well -- traditional. And many times the victimhood of one party is often exploited by some elements of that party. But that in itself I feel should not weaken the case of the victim party. take the israel Palistine problem. Hamas exploits the victimhood of palistinians and that those rocket attacks are used to launch a sinister campaign of bloodshed and terrible violence. But that must not taking anything away from the cause of the palistinians. Well!

So yes some women do exploit and blackmail. Well, so what?! Don't men too? Lets not miss the woods for the trees.

Rhett said...

*connotation

Govind said...

IMHO, I feel the most powerful weapon women are gifted with is not their womb or secondary sexual characteristics, but it is their HEART. There are hundreds of examples of great women, Mother Theresa to name one, who have won countless MEN with their heart.
Fortunately there are more loving mothers, daughters, sisters who are proud to be women in this world than there are feminists who grumble against their bad luck for being one.
Kindness, unconditional love, forgiveness etc are the weapon against marginalization, domination and inequality.
Govind.

Sidhusaaheb said...

A rather singular example of Indian womanhood has been written about at http://dcubed.blogspot.com/2009/02/good-doc.html .

maha said...

nice post...

Work from home India

Victor said...

What do you think about how women in power postions represent the lesbian women?