ARE YOU FEMINIST?

Are you feminist?
I have never been asked if I am a feminist.
Curious as our species is, add to that being Indians, add to it another layer of me being Kutchi, believe me I have been asked many questions. But none about being a feminist or whether I was left wing or right wing.
In my first full time job at indiainfo.com, I came across these ideas that till now I had reserved for my arty members. I liked to hear what the thinkers thought but that was about it. Me thinking about it was going to cause an imbalance to my balanced life. Now that’s not easy, the balance. We, as a family, are experts in living a balanced life. Now as a veteran of that life, I offer guidance. Whatever the situation be, my parents just about managed to get the balance back. I became an active member after my younger sister arrived. You see that caused an imbalance in our budget so now I had to be a contributor and less of a beneficiary. Now that’s a language I understood. What’s to gain and what’s to lose, how to maximise profits while minimising loss.

I was then a part of the new middle class in a new suburb that was officially in Bombay but physically a swamp. My suburb was just a leap ahead of my growth. It taught me what is ‘achieving’, it showed me there was always a 2Bhk to shift to and if I wanted to leap ahead of my suburb that would be to Walkeshwar.
My job at indiainfo.com was in the communication department but there was no space for an extra table, so I had to shift. And I shifted into one of the website’s section – evesindiainfo.com. “What is that?” I asked the HR lady. Well, she said it’s all about Eve. (Hopefully there was no pun intended)

Oh like Femina I thought. Remember compassion. That’s one word I learnt in my efforts to keep awake to watch live transmission of Miss World and Miss Universe.

But the problems on Eve’s website were way more different. In my first week itself a crisis came in. I could see the marketing team rushing up to the content team looking scared. Very scared. Apparently from the whispers I heard the company may lose a very good advertisement account due to an article put up on the website.

I think they were trying to balance but I could see the editor refusing to balance. I caught up with her in lunch break and I asked what the article was about. She said “When your Vagina talks Back”
I went, “ohhhh!”

“Who wrote that?” I asked

“Me,” she said.

And it took me a whole day to absorb that an editor who controls content knowingly has written an article on vagina and has willingly put it on the website. She herself knowingly has rattled the balance.
“Really, how stupid is that?” I told my dad.

“What’s her name?” my father asked.

“Supriya.”
“Madrasi?”
I nodded.

“They are very intelligent,” he said

I agreed.

“Then why did she do this?”

“Maybe too intelligent,” I offered.

“That’s not good for business.”
That’s was my first known introduction to feminism. Till that time I had just heard about bra burning feminists. And I could never understand that why would someone burn a bra I mean what point could be proven and I thought bra was too personal.

Make no mistake I was a woman who had seen a lot till then, I had travelled overseas and had been to a college that ranked in the city’s top 5. But like I said I was busy balancing and suspension was something I was to learn.

Now that I know, I can recall that I have been feminist from the very beginning. My mother moved out when her in-laws didn’t treat her first daughter well, so she sowed the seeds. That I had to fight for my right was something I understood when my younger sister and third daughter for my father arrived. My mom was at the hospital in labor, an elderly woman who was with us till my mother delivered, came home to tell us the news. She was sad and her words were, “it’s a girl again” and she went on to tell us how sad it was.

My father came home jubilant with sweet box. He was so happy. I was still not sure whether it was right to be happy for third girl. That week, boxes of sweets were delivered to my house. My father called for me and asked to give one box in each flat.

“Are you sure?” I asked him

“Of what?”

“Are you happy?” I asked

“Of course!” he said hugging me.

From then on I knew life as a girl would be difficult but I had my parents by my side. What I didn’t know was how fortunate I was. I gave a box to each flat in my society. The 52 families in my society knew that, yes, we had a third daughter and we are happy.

Now when I see so many forums talking about it, so many groups working on it, so many more girls aware of their rights, so many people knowing what a feminist is, I am happy. I know there is lot to be done but I know new people are joining every day.

I know it’s important and one can’t escape it as the VOGUE also thinks it’s in ‘IN VOGUE’.

I would reserve my comments on the Vogue Empowerment video.

I know millions have seen it and even if half of them were women then they know equally about empowerment as they know about ‘My choice’.

Even if it’s tokenism, I welcome it.

And like my father I will try to minimise the damage by exposing the positive part.

Jigna Kothari

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