My Voice Counts

Saturdays With Shivani

I am a reactionary feminist. It took some rude shocks in college to realise patriarchy kis chidiya ka naam hai. Till then I had no idea what patriarchy meant. My learning curve was steep and that is when I started looking at my larger family and friends and how biases pervade every bit of our life. I grew up in a comparatively open atmosphere or so I thought. As my thought process evolved so did my choices.

Patriarchy is like the soul sucking dementor that takes every ounce of your energy to fight but if you don’t what choice do you have? You can shrink, you can adapt and adjust but for how long? At some point you push back. No wonder then, feminists are angry people. I have been in that space. I was mansplained, gaslighted and sea- lioned when I didn’t even know these words. Feminism gave me clarity and I am better equipped to anticipate and avoid these traps.

Meanwhile, I stopped being apologetic about myself and about my choices. I now refuse to shrink to occupy the available space. I look into the eye and speak firmly and calmly. There are times when I don’t feel so courageous, then I pretend. No one’s been able to tell the difference so far.

When people tell me I am lucky to have married who I did because he believes in equality and is probably a bigger feminism champion that I am, I have often tried to explain that it’s because I was clear about what I wanted. I am told now that it’s simpler for me to talk about equality because I have it. To them I can now quote a guest I recently interviewed- ‘This is ‘engineered luck’. You know what your ‘non-negotiables’ are and you lay them out before you take the decision’.

Does raising my voice help? I choose to believe it does. My voice counts. I may have been a reactionary feminist but my daughter would be a conscious one. She would not waste precious years of her life trying to match up to random societal expectations. Her thought process necessarily has to be more evolved than mine.

Breaking the bias will happen only when we can spot those biases in the first place. Thanks to our rabble rousing, the next generation would be more efficient than us to spot, acknowledge and break the biases that have been interwoven intricately in our social fabric.

To all those who read this, I just want to say patriarchy may or may not have instituted by men but women have helped perpetuate it all these years and feminism isn’t just a woman’s job. Wherever you are, whoever you may be, choose your battles howsoever insignificant they may seem.

Be vocal. Resist. Desist and if you are in a position of power use it to promote equality. Keep raising hell and break the biases wherever you are. The tiniest of squeaks and the loudest of roars makes a difference otherwise I would not be sitting here writing this.

Love and light

Dr. Shivani Salil