I grew up in an era where a working woman wasn’t commonplace. Most women were educated enough to be able to help their children with their homework, but not have full time jobs. It was the time when stay-at-home moms ruled. Women were not exactly subservient, but yes, financially dependent on their spouses. In those days, I remember a business model that took flight successfully, at least in urban India. The Tupperwares and the Avons. A model designed to employ not regular full-time employees, but homemaker women. When they sold whatever they were selling to friends, family, neighbors, earning incentives on their sales without having to physically go to work everyday. This allowed these women to gain something they’d probably been longing for, but weren’t able to openly demand, thanks to other responsibilities that socially required them to stay at home. Financial freedom. A sense of empowerment. And sometimes, even a route out of domestic boredom.
Would you then, call these women feminists?
I think I would. Because almost silently, they challenged the status-quo. And they stood up for themselves. By inculcating an entrepreneurial spirit of sorts. By creating their own identity. And since most of these models had a strong referral program ingrained in them, by motivating other women to do so, too.
Fast forward to my generation. The scenario has evolved. As 21st century women, the fact that we can do it all, doesn’t even remain a question any more. We’re at par with out male counterparts. We’re questioning every practice, ritual and tradition that was designed to restrict us socially, professionally and culturally. From menstruation to maternity leave. From #MeToo to Lean In, a flurry of support systems have sprung up to allow women to prosper and progress. And it wouldn’t be wrong to say, it never has been a better time to be a woman.
Yet, there are times when I wonder if we’ve chosen to voice an opinion, and call ourselves feminists only because its easier today. Because when my timeline is inundated with women folk posting #MeToo, why shouldn’t I too. Right? I wonder where the fine line is, where one crosses over from chiming in, to actually being the doer and change-maker. When my being a feminist actually makes sense because I’ve actually, physically done something to uplift the position of women. Not saying that you have to prove the fact that you’re feminist. Or that you can’t be one in beliefs only. But in my humble opinion, it’s when you become one in action, that it truly has an impact.
I support feminism. And voice my opinion regularly. Yet in my opinion, the solution to feminism lies in beginning the charity from home. When you opt to contribute towards your domestic help’s daughter’s school fees. When you choose to stop sneaking that tampon through the work aisle on your way to the bathroom, as though you were carrying drugs. When you encourage your girlfriend to start that business she’s always wanted to.
Because the solution to the problem lies in doing something about it.