Feminism is at it’s peak right now. Marches are being held, banners are being put up, rights are being demanded. But sometimes we as women forget one important aspect of feminism.
In India, general election is looming over us, so one of the election candidate from our constituency held a meeting in the community hall with all the women who resides within the constituency and are eligible to vote. The candidate spoke at length about all the aspects of feminism and the human rights of women. He got a huge applause. After the meeting, we were invited for high tea in the dinning area of the hall. As I was helping myself to a lemon cake, I heard a middle-aged woman speaking to a group of other middle-aged women. She was saying, “I don’t know how she has become such a characterless woman! Her husband died two years ago and now she is marrying someone else. If she had been 28, we could have understood her point, but she is 43 with two kids! My neighbor saw her with her fiance near the Park Street pub two days ago. God knows what will happen to her kids!”
I wanted to cut in and tell the middle-aged woman that it was none of her business what the 43 year old woman was doing and that she should find something more productive to talk about, like ‘global warming’. But I didn’t, because no matter how much you explain these women, they won’t stop gossiping about other women. The most important aspect of feminism is women lifting up other women, and we often forget it.
Jealousy and gossip can seriously harm the advancement of feminism. When women don’t support each other, it gives patriarchal men a chance to suppress women more. Over the years I have learnt that to rise up, I don’t need to put others down. I have learnt that for me to get better, it is not required for others to deteriorate. Moreover, “Empowered women empower women”! It broke my heart when I heard the middle-aged woman speaking that day. Being a 19 year old I wondered what these women told about me and so I wrote a poem to feel better.
She lays on the bed looking at the lake
The summer heat blazes.
Filled with boys having a good time.
She wants to go too.
She wants to swim too.
But how can she?
Won’t the women call her ‘shameless’ if she does?
Those women are always watching her.
Those women – her mother, her aunts and her neighborhood aunts.
They try to design her every move and action.
They warn her about her diction.
She wants to dress boldly and live fearlessly.
She wants to curse those women loudly.
But how can she?
Won’t those women call her ‘shameless’ if she does?
Those women are now old and bitter.
Once those women were like her too,
Their eyes full of dreams of freedom.
But men had crumpled their dreams,
And had made them bitter.
Those women secretly want to be like her again,
But they know they can’t,
They are too deep in the vortex.
So they sit and call her ‘shameless’.
Why do some women suppress other women?
Why do some mothers ask their daughters to follow meaningless patriarchal rules?
Why can’t some women be happy for other women?
Why do they always try to pull her into their darkness?
Women have to lift up each other,
They will have to stop fueling the fire of patriarchy.
Explain this to those women.
Tell them,”She isn’t ‘shameless’, she is fiercely free.
Free. Free. Free.”