Constrained Choices!

In a patriarchy like India, empowering women should go much deeper than urging them to assert a few post-modern choices.

Published: 10th April 2015 07:19 PM  |   Last Updated: 10th April 2015 08:00 PM   |  A+A-


Women empowerment is surely the winning topic of the season. A series of strongly worded open letters, a couple of videos and the following buzz on the social media - all about celebrating womanhood. Give me a break!

Well, the latest on the issue was Deepika Padukone's #Mychoice video that featured the actress delivering a flat-tone monologue harping on the wide range of choices that modern Indian women are entitled to make. And lest we forget the backlash she faced for asserting women's choice to have 'sex outside marriage'. You think not cool? Hang on, let's talk something more important first.

Let's decode Women Empowerment to begin with. What does it really mean to empower Indian women? Why is this empowerment confined to just modern educated women?

The NCRB data show that 93 women are raped in India every single day. In every five minutes, we have an Indian woman subjected to domestic violence. And eve-teasing continues unabashed in various cities across the country. Enough said to hint how we should probably be addressing the issue of women empowerment. Exactly not the way Rahul Gandhi once described it.

The biggest decision an average rural Indian woman makes on a daily basis is likely to be restricted to what she has to cook for the household. And here we are listening to Deepika preach about the choices of being lustful and size zero! Why are these choices so different? According to findings stated in People’s Archive of Rural India, Women in rural India spend up to a third of their walking lives fetching water and firewood. Can they ever afford to be privileged or indifferent?

women-cooking-EPS.jpgFor me, the eminent choice for empowerment is to make them equal, not just in comparison to men but among women themselves. Acquaint rural women about how they can protect themselves from their alcoholic husbands, encourage girls to stand up against dowry, reward those who fight back eve-teasing! Do it not because it's just the thing to do but because these women deserve to make choices too.

In stating so, I don't necessarily agree or disagree with whether Deepika's monologue stands for Women Empowerment or not. Well, it's my choice to refuse to have an opinion. But I surely wish if gender bias is not confused along the lines of Women empowerment. In a patriarchy like India, empowering women should go much deeper than urging them to assert a few post-modern choices, because not all women in the country are given these similar set of choices.

Just a few days back, visuals of a brute teacher physically abusing his female colleague were telecast on all leading channels in loop with the controversy that the Vogue's Women empowerment video had created. What a startling contrast indeed! My suggestion, treat women like humans first! No, we don't intend to be cheating wives either. Give Indian women the respect that they deserve, only then can the other sophisticated choices (though equally important) follow.

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