Feminist India

What I’ve noticed about our so-called “progressive society”

Is that women are still treated like commodities.

“Cover up”, they say,

And then when we do,

“Hey, you look just like a guy – what’s wrong with you?”

 

I’ll tell you what’s wrong –

It’s your backward mentality!

The cat-calls are driving me towards insanity.

“Dolly, sweety, sexy, darling”

Touch me once more and I’ll send you back crawling.

 

And it’s not just the men, oh no!

Sexism is inherent.

Sometimes it comes from a well-meaning parent:

“Put back one idly, Your brother is hungry”.

 

Oh I see, so you get to tell me how much I can eat

Or what I can wear,

Or who I can be?

 

I’m sorry if I’m not behaving like a decent putri

But don’t pretend like you don’t prefer your son.

He’ll go to engineering college, and what about me?

Someday, you hope, I’ll learn to hold my tongue.

 

“No,” you shout, “that really isn’t true!”

We’re educated and modern,

We’re only worried about you.

 

Where are you going?

Who are you going with?

Your bra strap is showing…

That skirt doesn’t fit.

 

The helpful advice just doesn’t cease

Now it’s coming with increased intensity:

 

Why so much make up? You don’t need high heels.

Why did you cut your hair? You used to be so pretty.

What’s with that tank top? You’re such a tease…

 

I’ve had enough of this bullshit,

Keep your opinions to yourself, please.

 

You brag about your education,

But those multiple degrees

Seem to have narrowed your perspective

Instead of setting you free.

 

You teach your daughters to be careful

While they’re walking down the street,

Because ‘boys will be boys,’ right?

They can be excused.

 

Plus, some of these girls don’t even refuse.

I mean, they’re practically asking for it,

In those revealing skinny jeans.

Bending over on purpose to pick up

Strategically dropped keys.

 

Reaching for something on the topmost shelves,

So that their T-shirts ride up their chests.

A good girl would have just asked

Her father for some help.

 

Because everybody knows that girls are weak,

Incapable, stupid creatures.

Unfit to play sports, to work, to think, or to teach.

Too lowly to do pujas in the temple, or to preach.

 

But we’re stronger than that, as I hope you can see,

And it sucks that men are shamed for vulnerability.

Patriarchy is hurting us all, no matter how bizarre that may seem:

While society reveres the masculine, we’re losing out on femininity.

 

Because I’ve travelled around the country,

And I’m shocked by what I’ve seen.

Unlike those of us in big cities,

Tribal women from small villages know that they are Queens.

 

In moving away from nature and focusing on masculine ideals,

In being exposed to media and skewed traditions,

In watching advertisements enough to make one’s head reel,

We’ve diligently worked our way up to this dangerous situation.

 

So wake up and see what’s become of the urban community!

Stop ridiculing those who don’t fit in with society’s idea of propriety.

It’s not too late to change this fucked up situation,

And I hope you understand why we need a feminist revolution.

 

Artwork and poetry by Isabel Ann Vaz

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