I am not sure if I’m a feminist. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I don’t enjoy screaming the “vadge” word at the top of my voice in public places like theatres. Yeah, yeah, I know Eve Ensler is really happening, and I’m sure there’s a method to her madness, but even so. This is not my idea of empowerment or even fun. After I staggered out of the Vagina Monologues a few years ago, I found myself thinking nostalgically about that foolish euphemism “lady parts.” I vowed then to never smirk when I came across that idiotic term again and I try very hard to keep that promise. No, it’s not easy. Neither am I ever going on a slut walk. Not in India. Over my dead semi-naked bod! Why would I want crowds of sweaty men gawking at me and attempting to molest me? I appreciate the sentiment behind slut walks and I love the kick-ass slogans, but I believe in India, this has to be tackled differently. Like, say, blinding all men, since some of our beloved national and religious leaders claim that men are ‘provoked’ by what women wear. Okay, kidding. There are more civilised ways to deal with this. To my mind, it all begins at home, with gender-sensitive parents leading the way.
And don’t get me started on those strident card-carrying feminists — you know the terribly earnest ones who are permanently outraged over the silliest of things, and could very easily be mistaken by mildly myopic people as Arnab Goswami in drag. What’s more important: that you changed your surname after marriage (gasp — traitor to the sisterhood!) or that you make it a point to never vote for politicians who are sexist/support khap panchayats/et cetera? Spare us the flaky tirades, for heaven’s sake.
I start every morning feeling feminist, though. No, not feminist really, more like an anti-male virago. Reading the papers gets me all hot and bothered. Rapes, dowry deaths, acid attacks, domestic violence, female foeticide, judges saying that women must be like Indian mythological characters, khaps banning women from using cell phones, et cetera. And then I understand why some of the Western feminists I admired during my college days were lesbians or experimented with lesbianism. I really get it! Who wants to hang out with men when they’re so savage and controlling? My husband has learnt to never ask me to pass the bread rolls when I’m reading the papers at breakfast. I do a decent imitation of RDX exploding.
Yes, breakfast time is when interesting ideas start swirling around in my head, like creating an invincible super heroine called Rajni Kan who defeats reigning super hero Rajnikanth time after time. The catch phrase on every film poster will be, “What Rajni Kanth do, Rajni Kan!” Rajni Kan will always be skimpily clad (this will make the slut walk brigade deliriously happy), and will swear lustily, replacing the mother and sister words in MCBC with father and brother (PCBC). If this doesn’t inspire Eve Ensler to give me a warm bear hug, I don’t know what will.
But does this make me a feminist? I hope not. I’d much rather call myself an equalist. It’s a word that’s inclusive and acknowledges that the men like my husband who oppose gender discrimination as ferociously as rabid feminists do. For instance, journalist Peter Griffin has created a Facebook page (MANifesto) in which he outlines how he intends to fight gender discrimination and urges readers to send in their suggestions. Seems like Tammy Wynette’s old song has got a new twist. It’s Stand by Your Woman now, folks! And honestly, that’s the way aha, aha, I like it.
Rupa Gulab is an author & columnist. Her latest book is I Kissed a Frog & Other Stories