I remember going through an article when I was in Guwahati, maybe I was doing my engineering then. It read- “My husband sends me to the prostitute house to earn money for his liquor but beats me up if I get a few minutes late from the specified time. He thinks that I start showing interest on my customer.” It also read- “I have undergone 3 abortions and now I don’t even want to have a baby of my own. Although, I know I won’t have a say if my husband wants a child.” Then there was this article on Facebook which popped up on my timeline a few weeks back. It depicted how ugly the life of a sex- worker is and still how contended they sound! Apparently, the vagina of one of the sex workers has got rotten and you could smell it from a distance. Nobody would go near her. But you could hear her prayer recitals. Upon reading the post, I felt I was there and everything was happening in front of my eyes. The misery, the pain, the anxiety and yet not longing for the outside world. Isn’t it owning one’s sexuality?
But I don’t believe in portraying feminism by wearing less or no clothes. I mean, if you like to flaunt your body on which you have worked a lot that’s a thing not to be confused with feminism. The reason I brought this up as that is something I came across a few months back on Instagram and remember having a debate with one of my friends. How wearing an overly exposing top with the idea of ‘A woman can wear and do what she likes’ gives a wrong definition of feminism. I believe feminism has to do with equal rights for not only women but men too. Men too get discriminated at gender roles and a true feminist can never overlook that.
The title of the post is inspired from one of the many inspiring works ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings’ by the legendary Maya Angelou who in her early days has been a sex worker and a nightclub dancer herself. Then there’s another author, more of a social activist and a feminist whom I like- bell hooks. People like them have always pointed out how Feminism is not a term just to defend women but providing them opportunities and equal rights. They have also pointed out the importance of conserving the rights of men too. The focus is on Gender Neutrality, rather! If we believe in feminism, why do we still depend upon the male member of the family to pay our bills? I can’t seem to understand or relate myself to this.
Looking back at our hundreds of years old history, we can see how women were treated as a mere piece of property and a belonging of men. Sati Daah Pratha, Female infanticide, Sex selection of the child before birth, less or no breastfeeding of the girl child, no rights for education, no rights to cast vote, no rights to own parental property, and the list goes on. There are cases even now in many households that the womenfolk of the house is only meant to eat the leftovers of the husbands. Not sit or talk with them in public. Basically, OBEY, what they are being told to do. But all these have also come to this point that men have started to be stereotyped as money vending machines. I have come across many such families where the women in spite of being well educated just like to relax at home enjoying the lavish dinner bought by her husband.
I wrote this article on gender equality early this year and can’t begin to think how everything is so interrelated. When you type ‘Discrimination against girls/ women in India’ you’d be ashamed to see the figures. As much as we are moving towards globalization and all these first- world phenomena, the problem that existed a hundred years ago hasn’t ceased to exist.
♣ CREDITS ♣
CREATIVE DIRECTION & STYLING | SHIVANI BORUAH
PHOTOGRAPHY & EDITING | HARSHITA NAYYAR
CONCEPT | Putting forward my ideas on Feminism
OUTFIT | Feminist Dress by Vajor
LOCATION | Old Delhi
I remember painting portraits of ‘women in tears’ when I was a kid. I also drew a naked woman once, a naked woman glancing at the mirror. Women have always been a subject of interest for me. Maybe, someday I would leave everything and work for the betterment of women. That’s something I really want to do. Maybe I will continue to do what I am doing. Maybe! But my ideologies might not change. Might never. Anyway, I am up for a debate. Let’s talk!
” Yet again, I sing.
And one day I won’t be a bird in the cage. “