The 'I' in Feminism

To me feminism and gender equality mean a world where all opportunities are equally available irrespective of gender.

As a kid, I never felt that being a girl would come in the way of having a career. In fact, I never felt it would come in the way of anything. Gender discrimination had a toxic role in my family, but it didn’t interfere with my education or academic opportunities.

At work, I was lucky enough to work in companies or teams where equality was taken for granted. The opportunities and responsibilities were only based on merit. There were always few people who would assume at the first meeting that I was in a non-technical role, but once corrected, their behavior was generally not patronizing. The system didn’t allow it to be! There was stereotyping but not much discrimination.

The real judgments started once I reached my thirties. At first, there were personal and inappropriate questions about why I didn’t yet have kids. After my son was born, a lot of people made their disapproval known at my decision to go back to work. Coworkers, neighbors, and relatives would often question or comment. Sometimes the remarks were aggressive but more often they were intended to hurt but disguised as a joke. People often asked how many hours I spent outside the house. They would freely share stories about “nannies from hell”.

After two years of being a working mom, I decided to quit my highly lucrative career and become a stay-at-home mom. It was a personal choice totally based on what was right for me and my family at that time. That’s when the obnoxious questions and the insidious remarks started coming from the other camp. I had a two-year-old toddler to tend to, but people were still very curious as to what I would do all day. They wanted to know if I would spend my time watching TikTok videos! All of a sudden, I was made to feel like the biggest enemy of feminism.

My roles changed, my life changed, the only thing that didn’t change was the constant judgment! Why?  Why is there such a need to criticize others and feel attacked when someone makes a choice that’s different from ours? Why is there a need for these camps to exist?

All of us are unique and our situations are unique too. There can be no template for when or whether to marry, when or whether to have kids, how many kids to have, whether be a homemaker or have a career outside, whether be a stay-at-home mom or a working mom. It has to be our very own personal choice.

In the 1840s, Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell took the literary world by a storm. In 1857, George Eliot stunned all by magnificent pieces of literature. In reality, they were Charlotte, Emily and Anne Bronte and Mary Ann Evans. They had to adopt the male pseudonyms in order for their books to be published and taken seriously. It has been almost two centuries since then, but we still have to hide. We’re still in a situation where one side shouts loud enough to drown out the voices of the other. Only the sides have changed!

We are rightly passionate about equal career opportunities. What about equal human opportunities? What about the basic freedom to be able to make our own life decisions without censure?

To me feminism and gender equality mean a world where all opportunities are equally available irrespective of gender. But the choice of the path one wants to take is highly personal and subjective. People should feel free to chart their own course.

And to all you women out there who happen to read this, I don’t know you but I know you enough to tell you that every crucial choice you’ve made is the best you could have done at that time. Don’t doubt yourself. Hindsight can be very devious. In retrospect it is easy to second guess the decisions that we have taken in the past. Trust yourself and celebrate yourself. You don’t need anyone’s permission for that. You are already awesome!

In 1868, the beloved book Little Women was published and became an instant hit. What makes this book even more beloved to me is that Louisa May Alcott published it under her real name. She stopped hiding! Sometimes, the judgment that we fear is just a reflection of how we are judging ourselves. If we are at peace with our choices, the world often comes around too. And if they don’t, to hell with them!


More by :  Priya Khanwalker

Top | Women

Views: 3467      Comments: 2

Comment Thank you Hema! Glad you could relate.

Priya Khanwalker
14-Sep-2022 13:29 PM

Comment Can relate to everything you've stated in this write.

You walk with the cake for the last statement -

"If we are at peace with our choices, the world often comes around too. And if they don’t, to hell with them...."

Women stand up for themselves!

Hema Ravi
14-Sep-2022 09:23 AM

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