What Defines Feminism?

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When Sushmita Sen became Miss India, most people didn’t give her much credit as a feminist woman. She was seen as someone who had fallen into the trap of beauty industry, modelling and conformed to some weird body & beauty standards (which was believed to be conversely proportional to feminism per se!) .

Then she gave a that famously brilliant answer in the Miss universe contest. Some of us took notice and realized that she had considerable grey matter, so she wasn’t written off as a feminist. Again, when she started to dance in Bollywood movies, we  didn’t think she had much mettle at the time. In comparison to her peers she seemed average.

But then, in her early twenties, she did something which shocked all of us. She adopted a daughter as a single mother. She was at the peak of her career and she wasn’t married. She then proceeded to move out of movies and then again adopted a second daughter and started breaking many set notions about motherhood and celebrity behaviour – she started making her own mark and path. She has quietly done something at a very young age, which many young women will balk at.

Why am I talking about her today? Because a woman cannot always fit into the set idea of a “A Perfect Woman” as per the patriarchal definition OR the politically correct feminist definition. She doesn’t need to bring down a man, stand on his chest or humiliate him denigrate and deny his existence to become a woman with freedom and choice. Needless to say, she must bring him down or fight him when he abuses her..

A woman who is in touch with her feminine energies, doesn’t need to be badass, she doesn’t need to be a cape wearing wonder woman, she doesn’t need to always be a politically correct feminist – yet she can break barriers set by patriarchy with her own inner strength.

She needs to be aware of her self worth.

There are many such women around us who are aware of their self worth and have kept their nose to the grind to choose their life their own way. They are confident they will win.

Respect for one’s own body, mind and own choices, courage to stand by that thought and choice, determination and resolve to doggedly pursue that choice and fight or work around every objection / obstruction to uphold that choice, flexibility to accept growth and change, and the objectivity to understand, empathize and respect the choices and struggle of other humans, including women – this is what makes a woman live her life to the fullest, without pulling anyone down.

Energize the creative feminine energies. Be in touch with the intuition of femininity, the intuition through which the universe speaks to you, because that is what makes a woman different, that’s what we are here for – to propagate the creative compassionate energies of the universe…

By Sangeeta Bodhi Das

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Sangeeta is a published writer and illustrator. She currently works as a consultant with an NGO in New Delhi. Apart from that, she also works as a storyteller and a creative writer for English and Bengali language. Sangeeta has previously been a Jury member for Bal Bhavan’s nationwide competitions for children.

She has illustrated and designed books for Pratham Books and NAZ foundation. She has also published two stories as part of the collections – ‘Lighthouse in the storm’, published for the ‘Book Therapy’ project of AWIC (Association of Writers and Illustrators for children) and the anthology, ‘One Big Family’, Published by the National Foundation for Communal Harmony. That apart, Sangeeta also writes about women and gender issues.

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