Feminism In India:
There can be no doubt in the mind of the educated male that women have truly come of age. They have the ability, maturity and the requisite skill to hold their own in a ‘man’s world.’ Yet, one sees a number of women who still feel the need to ask for their in-law’s permission before they work and of those who of them who do take up a job, to play house-keeper when they come back-cooking the meals, washing the dishes and so on. In the light of such actions, one is forced to wonder if the Indian Women is truly ‘liberated’ or whether their emancipation is merely a superficial one. Do they, their obvious capability notwithstanding, have the will to seize the equality that they are so vociferous in laying claim to?
Nandini Sardesai, eminent sociologist and feminist says, “ The Indian woman has had all her rights handed to her on a platter; she has never had to fight for her liberty. That is why she takes them so lightly.” The leaders of the independence movement framed the constitution so that it gave the Indian woman the right to vote, to property and divorce at the dawn of our freedom. All of these are rights that women elsewhere in the world obtained only after much agitation and great suffering. It is perhaps the lack of a struggle that causes them to take their rights for granted.
The collective memory of past struggles that a group has gone through goes a long way in determining its attitudes towards issues that concern the group as a whole. Jews all over the world remember the Holocaust and as such are proactive when it comes to dealing with anti-Semitism and oppression of any kind, as are the dalits in India or the blacks in America. No such epic struggle can be found in the past of Indian women. Do they, therefore, take their rights for granted? Do they as a result refuse to assert and obtain for themselves the true equality that goes beyond rhetoric and needs to find itself in the homes and boardrooms of our country?
Perhaps, in the not-so-distant future, someone will start a new kind of movement. One that is aimed not at getting rights and privileges and equality but at making people aware of the responsibility that comes with having them. Until then, women will languish in the darkness as they continue to wear their unburned bras.