I had missed Deepika’s “My Choice” video when it was at it peak of circulation. I did read some cryptic and most others forthright messages commenting on the video. I did read all the spoofs, rebuttals and counter-attacks on this video. I could understand why men are reacting to the video that way but when I saw some women disapproving the video, I decided to watch it and talk and blog about it.
The video is visually stunning, the script is powerful, the presentation is gripping only one problem they claim to represent women from all walks of life in India. If this video claimed to represent Deepika’s own views I would have stood up and applauded the video. There is nothing objectionable about the video if Deepika is talking for herself. But sadly that wasn’t the case. The introduction to the video talks about empowering women, trying to include women from all walks of life but sadly most of noticeable faces belong to certain enviable class of women where only burning problems are what to wear and whom to have sex with. Thats where they get disconnected with Indian women at large. My guess is, most women who are disapproving the video are not necessarily upset with the message but probably they are upset that Deepika is claiming that she represents them.
So I decided to talk to some good friends and do some soul searching. Result is five important learnings about Feminism.
- Feminism has nothing to do with men : The common misconception which is sadly amplified by “My Choice” video is feminist females want to break all shackles, all rules and challenge men on their turf. Also calling for men-women equality is not fair especially to women, they are far more capable. So men have to stop feeling threatened and women need to take feminism above men. Feminism has to be about females. fullstop.
- Feminism is highly individual matter: I think most conflicts happen when someone tries to generalize feminism, same cardinal mistake done in the video. I spoke to many of my women-friends about feminism. What I consistently heard is feminism is freedom to do what the woman wants without fear of being judged within the boundaries drawn for herself by the woman. I think this is the most important point. Each woman should have freedom to draw her own boundaries and be free within them.
- Feminism may be at risk from other women too : Like men should not define the boundaries for the woman, other women should also not define boundaries for her. Like men should not judge the woman on choices she makes, other women should also not judge her in the choices she makes. That's why when Deepika says “having sex outside marriage is my choice, having sex with man or woman or both my choice” many women disapprove. Probably, they mean - “Speak for yourself lady. We are neither interested in sex outside marriage nor with women” This is my guess.
- Feminism is many enemies in disguise : At the cost of sounding sensational, I want to say that feminism is at a very high risk from industries such as fashion /beauty industry than MCPs. I read an interesting quote “World would go into recession if tomorrow all women get up and feel happy about their body, looks, hair, nails etc etc” I am sorry to say but current fashion / beauty industry are enemies in disguise for women. They are designed to exploit vulnerabilities and make women want things which otherwise they won’t care. They manipulate woman’s mind and change the boundaries that woman would define for themselves. In the name of liberation they create lifestyle and images that are neither desirable nor achievable. Feminist woman should therefore save themselves from these organized enemies in disguise.
- Suppression / Liberation are feelings, don’t judge them by looks: I had heard a joke - If you are driving on a highway anyone going slower than you is an idiot and anyone going faster is a reckless driver. Symptoms of feminism are similar. If some woman have more restrictions than you does not mean they are suppressed and on the contrary just because some others have more freedom does not mean they are liberated. Just because women is certain countries wear burkha / hijaab doesn’t mean they are suppressed. Just because women in certain countries can do whatever they want does not mean they are liberated. Its all about what those women feel inside, don’t judge by what you see.
My appeal to all men is treat feminism as the most appropriate way to make your woman happy.
My appeal to all women is make feminism a completely private matter, be protective about it not just from men but from other women and enemies who appear to be friends.