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It is almost like asking the clown at the circus to do the trapeze act. Of course I do know many of the clowns are quite adept at it. But is this one?? Now that is a million dollar question. I know I know. All this talk is very cryptic and baffling. Right?? You don’t usually come upon a blog titled ‘Feminism’ and find beneath it references to clowns and trapeze acts and what not. Anyways right now you have had the pleasure of doing just that, so let me explain. Normally I stay away from serious stuff (trapeze acts) and stick with the silly and the mundane (the clown act). Playing the fool and churning out tongue in cheek posts are more my forte and of course inflicting sad, mysterious and meaningless poetry on the unsuspecting public and befuddling them.

In spite of holding just such a reputation, Indianhomemaker, that excellent blogger whose blogs on just about everything echoes my own thoughts (especially about DILs and Joint Family and the like) has deemed fit to tag me to write my take on feminism. So officially certified clown or not, with the gauntlet thrown, the brave woman that I am, am accepting the challenge and trying to attempt that adroit trapeze act. Indianhomemaker (here) and Nimmy (here) between themselves have written excellent posts on their takes on feminism. And Manju (here) has added another aspect of it. All of them echo my own thoughts to a T. So what I write here is only that little extra, purely from a personal angle.

Since the time I have been tagged (I am sorry I am late Indianhomemaker, I have been otherwise occupied not to mention the erratic net connection) I have been frantically trying to google for anything I can find on Feminism. I have found some varying views here, here and here. Now all the views and theories have my head spinning. “Feminism is a belief in the political, social, and economic equality of women. It is a discourse that involves various movements, theories, and philosophies which are concerned with the issue of gender difference, advocate equality for women and campaign for women’s rights and interests.” says Wikipedia. Well this is something that I understand and so my spinning head comes mercifully to a standstill.

When I was just a kid, and please remember the time I am speaking of is almost four decades back, Mother used to talk to us about her own childhood and the little thoughts that came to her as a child. As the youngest among six children of whom four were older brothers, she was a pampered girl who got her way most of the time. In spite of being the indulged little one of the family, she did not, naturally so in keeping with the times, enjoy the same freedom as her brothers. She couldn’t do most of the things she longed to, for instance climb trees, an innocent past-time any child would like to indulge in, which was frowned upon as not becoming a girl by the powers that be, like many others of the same nature. All this made her wish with all her heart that she were born a boy. She daydreamed of cutting her hair short and wearing shorts and becoming a boy so that she could enjoy the life the boys seemed to. She even wished to be reborn only as a boy in her next birth so that none could stop her from enjoying life to the hilt with indiscriminate use of, ‘Don’t do this, don’t do that. Remember you are a girl’ at every step of her life. It is another matter of course that she followed the same approach with nary a change when her own daughters arrived on the scene.

I must have been around 9 or ten, a wisp of a girl, when I heard from Mother about her wish to have been born as the male of the species. To me, something about it somehow did not seem right. I just could not agree with it. The introspective child that I was (and still am, though no longer a child) I found out what it was soon enough. Mother wanted to be a boy so she could live life the way she wanted. What about me?? I rejected her argument outright. I wanted to be a girl and still be able to live life the way I wanted. Now that explains the crux of the concept of feminism for me. I want to be allowed to be myself and not let my gender come in the way of leading my life. Period.

Feminism for me is to be a girl/woman and still be able live a life of our choice and liking without gender bias rearing its ugly head. The way I live, the dress I wear, the career I choose, places I visit, hobbies I take up, the justice I am given… in short anything, should never be dependent on my gender. When I am free to lead the life I want to without being reminded, stopped or put down at every step with the argument that I am a woman then, feminism has arrived.

Feminism is not being treated as a second class citizen just for being biologically and emotionally different from men, but being accepted as equal in spite of the difference. It is the complete ban on the use of the words ‘No you cannot, because you are a girl’ So?? So what if I am a girl/woman?? How does it make me any less of a human being?? I am a girl/woman and proud to be one too. As a girl/woman I am different from boys/men in n number of ways, but in no way am I any lesser. I celebrate that difference, but don’t make me feel lesser because of the difference, because I am NOT inferior in any way, just different. Don’t deny me my opportunities, chances, just because I was born a female baby.

Feminism for me is doing what one likes for one’s own satisfaction, not proving a point to anyone, not even to the men. I don’t believe it is necessary to go out and do everything that a man does and excel in it to prove that I am equal to the men and a feminist. I myself am a homemaker by profession, a choice made of my own accord. And I know from experience that I am more of a feminist at heart and in practice than many women working at par with men with equal (or more) remuneration but do not have a voice of their own. By the way, if a man pulls out a chair for me or carries a bag because it is too heavy for me, I don’t see it as any weakness on my part or patronizing on theirs. I would pull out a chair or carry things among other things for any human being without concern for gender. Such things for me are merely a matter of being human and helpful.

This is my philosophy of feminism, on the basis of which I live, demanding to be treated equally at every step of my life. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I fail, but the spirit remains forever alive and kicking.

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I’d also like to hear from you Vivek (I know you are busy, but whenever you find time would be okay), Rashmi and also from you Bob on your views about the topic.