16th December, 2012 is fresh in all of our memories for the utterly heinous act of rape and gendered violence we witnessed in the heart of our capital, New Delhi, India. The nation was gripped by social movements against the acts of rape and violence against women which was a historic movement with significant repercussions. We saw the nation, albeit with different opinions come together to show outrage against the violent crime. Rape was debated and discussed and captured the imaginations of the youth, media, political activists, men and women alike. Three years after the 2012 incident we all know that nothing much has changed.
And nothing much will change till we realise that acting against such crimes requires a social reconstruction of existing realities. We live in a society where rape is applauded as an act of heroism and bravery. Just recently we saw how the culprit of this crime went on national news declaring the woman was to blame supported by equally horrifying claims by his lawyers. In a society where we have audiences standing up and enjoying movies like Badlapur, recently released in the cinemas where the idea of revenge is to rape the women of the enemy concerned can we really free ourselves of this vice? While we may come together as a nation outraged during incidents like the Nirbhaya rape case, and promote a culture where we overlook everyday instances of violence against women and people of other sexualities we really cannot move ahead.
We call ourselves a democracy and yet we live in a country which has declared homosexuality a crime by the legal statures. How does this make us democratic? It is a shame to democracy where we cannot even to choose to be who we are, dress as we like and have the right to live with dignity violating the basic right enshrined in the constitution. As a woman I have grown up facing sexual harassment at so many levels and constantly growing up with a sense of shame, guilt and torment because I did not have anyone to tell me I was not to be blamed. I did not ask to be harassed or abused. It is the fault in the system itself which teaches us to be silent over acts of crime and feminism teaches us to never be silent over such issues. Is it a crime to be born a woman, a homosexual or a transgender? I think not at all, but being a feminist is, and it is not amusing to find the world standing against us to blame us feminists for ruining a perfectly organised oppressive, hypocritical, misogynist social order.
Well if being a feminist causes discomfort and shakes up such oppressive social structures I would stand on top of the highest tower and scream, ‘Yes I am a feminist and am proud to be one.’ Feminism has helped me find my answers and to all of those who think being a feminist means that we are the most boring, serious, short haired kurti clad lesbians, then that is how we mock democracy and institutionalise patriarchal, gender stereotypes and ignorant knowledge and accept it as the only reality. For us to move ahead in terms of making social progress and achieving gender equality it is not only necessary but an urgency to expand what we believe is real knowledge and stop treating gender and feminists as if they do not matter and as social outcastes. It is only when we learn to engage and build solidarity with progressive social movements we can really move towards a truly, democratic, gender neutral and inclusive society.
About the Author
I am a PhD scholar. I take keen interest in issues related to gender and am I wish to pursue a career in academics with focus on gender studies and also engage practically on issues of gender.
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