Chitra on Feminism

Chitra Kalyani

Chitra Kalyani

 

 

 

 

Chitra Kalyani is a single woman who currently resides in New Delhi, a city she painstakingly explores and writes about. She previously studied and lived in Egypt. A freelance journalist, this Dilli Ki Billi is the founder of Delhi Live Events Guide. Currently, she holds the position of relationship manager at a Yoga studio and researches on mental illnesses.

 

What are your views on feminism?

I’m not sure I understand the question. If this is about whether or not I opt to be called a feminist – of course I’m for equal rights. Everyone should have one view of feminism: to support it.

 If there was a code of conduct for women (like the bro code) what according to you should be the rules?

The bro code usually has to do with how the game changes when women are around. I think a “sister” code would be for us to be supportive and encouraging of each other’s efforts, and to give guidance that is clear – including tough love. But at the foundation, to always give from a place of love.

Tell me about one woman who has inspired you ?

My English teachers have always been inspiring – probably why I ended up choosing to study the subject. They were perfectionists when it came to things like spelling, grammar, essay structure – their work; but when it came to an attitude towards you, I found them gentle. Without that, a genuine interest in literature and arts could not exist. I had at least two female English teachers in high school.

 

The Feminine Code by Chitra Kalyani

The Feminine Code by Chitra Kalyani

 

© Photo- Kailash Kalyani

Tripti on Women

Tripti Singh

Tripti Singh

 

 

 

 

 

Tripti Singh is a young, introverted student of Fashion Styling at PAF.

 

Feminism is the soul of a lady. A mother, a sister, a teacher who have great stamina to defeat in battle, as well as to inspire for good reasons. A woman has the feature to make anyone’s beautiful just instead of it she wants respect and love!

The set of rules which I will make for woman is just to let her live freely without
showing any kind of partiality. The second rule is that there should be no rules.

A woman who has inspired me is Kalpana Chawla. I admire her for her talent, courage as well as for her dedication to her work. She inspired me while she was alive and even when she’s no more.

Tripti Singh

The Feminine Code By Tripti Singh

 

 

© Photo and text-Tripti Singh.

Imrita’s thoughts

Imrita Chhabra

Imrita Chhabra

 

 

 

 

Imrita Chhabra is a senior visualiser at Talenthouse. Born and brought up in Jammu, she currently resides in Mumbai.

 

 

What are your views on feminism?

Feminism seems to carry such mixed sentiments. If you are labelled feminist you are considered anti-men. I don’t hate men or want to make them my slave. I believe in equal rights for men and women. If this is how you define feminism, I am a feminist. If it’s only about women then I’m not a feminist. I feel both men and women face inequality. It just depends on which side of the spectrum you are. In fact we need to fight for equality for everyone whether you are a MAN or a WOMAN. I have seen women playing feminism card as per their convenience. When it comes to paying bills or spending their salary on things other than the personal expenditure, Oh it’s my husband’s responsibility to take care of it. After all he is the man of the house, why should I pay for it? But yeah when it comes to household chores my husband should help equally. Why because we are equal. Really ??? I pity the guy here, He is the victim here. On the other hand I have seen men who are jerks, have no respect for women whatsoever. There are women who are not allowed to work even though they are more qualified than their husbands because it’s their duty to take care of kids and do the household work. Some of them are not allowed to talk to any male members of the family, keep their face covered all the time. That’s the kind of women we need to fight for. Here again the women faces injustice not only from the men but also from the women. So who do be blame here? So let’s make this year a FEMINISM A FIGHT FOR THE RIGHTS OF ALL GENDERS.

If there was a code of conduct for women what according to you should be the rules?

I feel people around us already have so many expectations and rules for us that we don’t need more. I want all women to forget all the rules, be compassionate, be classy, love yourself and follow your dreams. Don’t just LIVE be ALIVE.

Tell me about one woman who has inspired you?

Many women have inspired me not just one. Some for their courage, some for their talent and some for their attitude. But one woman who has inspired me the most is my MOTHER. I admire her for her patience, selfless love and courage. She has been my friend, my pillar of strength. Sometimes she just amazes me and I wish I could be half the women she is.

Avleen’s view on feminism.

Avleen Khokhar

Avleen Khokhar

 

 

 

Avleen Khokhar, wears many hats. She is  a well reputed cosmetologist, mind therapist and spiritual counselor. Avleen, has been the recipient of many awards. A few months back she received a Woman of Substance Award in the field of Art and Beauty. 

 

A woman is nurturer and man is provider. A woman must always remember her basic nature to nurture what ever she does. Her work, her family, her surroundings must be nurtured and embraced. Feminism is not to be validated or acknowledged. Feminism is grace, love and softness.

Every woman must learn to love herself first . If you love yourself, people will love you for sure. If the woman of house is happy she can distribute happiness. Every woman must pamper herself. I feel equality is not the virtue or point of conflict. The real thought must be understood. Mother nature has made a woman a nurturer and she can only make a healthy and peaceful surroundings. So love your self, believe in yourself and nurture yourself and surroundings around you.

I am inspired by my mom. I have see her always smiling and boosting us in all situations. I have never seen her giving up. She has a solution for everything and she is a strong foundation of the house. I  am inspired  by the way she loves herself. We are three sisters with different set of surroundings. Initially, we all had problems to adjust in our new extended families. My mom use to counsel us in positive direction and now we all are successfully settled in our universe and enjoying love and respect.

 

 

Feminine Code by Avleen Khokhar

Feminine Code by Avleen Khokhar

 

Varija on Women

Varija Bajaj

Varija Bajaj

 

 

Varija, meaning Lotus in Sanskrit, is a Design Studio and namesake of Delhi based entrepreneur, Varija Bajaj.  A self taught artist, she has completed over a decade in the fashion industry and is accredited by the FDCI. Varija,  is now a case study in ISB Hyderabad. 

 

Feminism for me is being comfortable in your own skin as a Woman. It may sound very simple but in practicality very few woman can stand up for themselves and their rights.

Rules for a woman are mostly what it would be for any individual or a citizen. I don’t think there are any set of rules separately just because one is a Woman. Although I feel women have a collective responsibility to stand up for each other when it comes to a woman’s dignity.

It would be hard to pick a single woman as an inspiration. They are so many …they are everywhere. A woman labour at a construction site who take turns to feed her children amidst her work. A woman who teaches her children and is the foundation of a society’s value system .A woman who braves herself through a man’s world and dirty glares just because she wants to persue her dreams.

 

The Feminine Code by Varija Bajaj.

The Feminine Code by Varija Bajaj.

 

© Text & Photograph-Varija Bajaj.

 

 

Ritika on the feminine principle.

 

Ritika Narang Tickoo.

Ritika Narang Tickoo.

 

 

Ritika Narang Tickoo is a post graduate in marketing and communications. She is the co-founder of Either Or, an eclectic store which aims to support and create awareness about handicrafts. Ritika is a Delhi girl, who has been residing in Pune for over fifteen years. 

 

 

For me feminisim is not being the bra burning, screaming for your rights…but an acceptance of the feminine principle and its strengths, subtleties and experiences. As a follower of Shakti , it is the celebration of the energy source within us …which allows to be the the bud in the flower, the wild river, the raging storm , or a silent forest. There can be no life without it…and hence respect for it is the only way.

The Feminine Code-To understand our diversity and to celebrate it without insecurity. That with great freedom comes greater responsibility. That if we are free to choose our dance , it still must not trample in others ballets and dance dramas.

There are many many, many women who have inspired me. But for me it is the representative of all womanhood..the goddess divine that inspires me. For every query, for every thought there is a form which Inspires, encourages and invites you to go deeper and deeper to see yourself.

 

The Feminine Code by Ritika Narang Tickoo.

The Feminine Code by Ritika Narang Tickoo

 

© Text and Photograph- Ritika Narang Tickoo.

 

 

Puneet’s Views

Puneet Kaur

Puneet Kaur

 

 

 

Puneet Kaur is a 35 year old, single, Sikh woman. She’s a full time businesswoman and also a part time blogger. Here are her thoughts on feminism, the feminine code and women who have inspired her. 

 I don’t completely conform to the concept of being a feminist. But I believe that men should respect every woman whatsoever field or age they are in. One doesn’t have to agree to everything a woman says but showing mere respect or acknowledging them is the least they can do. Giving women a chance to speak, to voice their opinion is also respect which I feel men dislike or wouldn’t approve off. If women readily listen to men’s opinions, men should be able to do the same too.

 I don’t feel that there should be any such code of conduct for women. But just as women would like being respected by men, the same should be amongst them i.e between women. We can choose to listen to each other even if we disagree on something. I feel one should be open to communicating. We all have pre-conceived notions about people we don’t know. Communicating & taking a step forward to interact on any subject clears any such notion that we have about other women. Besides erasing any obstacle that one may have in the mind, it paves the way to a healthy relation, whether personal or professional. I believe one should look for the goodness or uniqueness in others, it helps society grow.

 There are quite a few women who’ve inspired me. I was very inspired by one of my teachers at school who believed in me & encouraged me to perform well. When a child fails to bring a decent grade, he/she is often left disheartened. And if a teacher comes to aid & shows faith in his/her performance, it makes a world of difference. Such was the effect a marvelous teacher had on me. I think she was strong at heart & a very humble person. Above all, its my mother who’s been an inspiration & my strength which I’ve never really acknowledged. I take her presence for granted but now I do notice how selflessly she looks into the satisfaction & well being of all family members. I notice that her world revolves around the family and she’s content with this. She’s never wanted anything for herself outside this world. To see the family happy was all she ever wanted. She has encouraged me to be myself and has a lot of faith in my abilities. Qualities of selflessness, patience & perseverance are some of the things I’d like to imbibe from her. Both these women have inspired me to have belief in myself & given me the freedom to simply be, me.

 

 

© Text-Puneet Kaur

Photograph- Saadiya Kochar

Rosy’s Thoughts

Rosy Singh

Rosy Singh

 

   

 

 

Rosy Singh is a successful, 50 year old business woman who lives in Nasik, Maharashtra.  A mother of two, she’s also a partner at Twilite Products (India).  

    What are your views on Feminism?

 I believe there is space for everyone on this earth- males, females, trans genders and for all ages. Why then do we need feminism or to carve out a place or want to be treated as equal unless you think we are not? Which I clearly dont…..Live and let live. We are all equal and have our own roles to play so why this feminism? Females are people with their own mind just like any other gender.

   If you had to form a code of conduct for women what would it entail?

  The only code of conduct we all need to follow is Humanity. We need to respect and value each person- of all genders of all ages.

 A woman you admire?

Living in Maharashtra, we have mostly female workers in the factory. I respect each of them who work, earn, support or help the finances of the family, look after the children, parents, in- laws and still have a smile. 

 

The Feminine Code By Rosy Singh.

The Feminine Code By Rosy Singh.

 

 

© Text &Photograph -Rosy Singh

 

 

 

 

Bulbul’s Thoughts.

Bulbul Kumar did her Masters in Geography and works at the Shri Ram School-Aravali. Here are her thoughts.

 

Bulbul Kumar.

Bulbul Kumar.

 

Feminism is gender bias and disproves the concept of equality, rather than promoting it. It can be abused and exaggerated.

If there was a female code what would it entail?

Code of conduct for women and men should be alike.

A woman who has inspired you?

One woman who has inspired me is my friend Liz..she’s a mom, wife, daughter, daughter in law, friend, doctor etc..how she multi tasks all her responsibilities with patience and no cribbing amazes me..yet, she has time for herself (exercise, beauty parlour, dinners etc)..

 

 

Bulbul

The Feminine Code By Bulbul Kumar.

 

 

© Text and Photograph- Bulbul Kumar.

Shirin’s Thoughts

Shirin Hasrat

Shirin Hasrat

Here are the thoughts of Shirin Hasrat, a 64 year old retired teacher from Pathway World School.

What are your thoughts on feminism?

Feminism should focus on the core essence of fighting for equality in education and job opportunities, but distance themselves from issues which would trivialise the movement.

What trivalises the movement?

Fight for equal opportunity, or against domestic violence or marital rape. Supporting women who have had live in consensual relationships and then cry rape…that trivialises the movement.

 If you had to write a feminine code what would it entail?

Is there a code of conduct for men? I would only suggest that women carry themselves with dignity and grace and not allow themselves to be belittled. Respect for self should take precedence . Be supportive of causes which edifying women and help them to make their lives qualitatively better. Fight for equal opportunity, or against domestic violence or marital rape. And why do we forget that it is women who perpetrate the worst kind of cruelty on other women? What needs to be built up through awareness is support of the sisterhood, women need to educate their sons to respect women. That is what is important.

A woman you admire?

Public figure Mother Teresa for selfless love and service. However my inspiration are the thousands of women who contribute in their unique way by rising above their circumstances to make their world better.

 

 

The Feminine Code By Shirin Hasrat.

The Feminine Code By Shirin Hasrat.

 

To know more about Shirin, read-https://a100reflections.wordpress.com/2014/07/01/make-love-not-scars-by-shirin-hasrat/

 

© Text & Photograph-Shirin Hasrat

Kick Starting The Women’s Day Campaign

The inspiration for this year’s, International Women’s Day Campaign comes from a post that I wrote on the 8th of February . “My entire life, most of my interactions have been with men.  Teachers, mentors, bosses, assistants I have been surrounded by the male species. Though, I went to a convent school, I kept to myself and the few female friends I made, were also like me, always surrounded by male relatives. Though my work has been about the female energy, my personal life has been a far cry from it. But suddenly, there has been an influx of women in my life and I have started to understand many things about my own kind.
Men have an unspoken understanding, the bro-code as they call it. Women have no set of rules to deal with other women. We are the first ones to pull a woman down. A guy will think twice before saying something unsavory, women can say and do anything to each other. Last year I joined an office, where all the women claimed to be feminists but I never heard them say one nice thing about each other. I realized that as long we are fighting for the victims we all stand together. But when it comes to dealing with someone from our class, who directly affects our lives, the rules change.
The only way we are going to change society, is by changing ourselves. The first step is to make your own set of female rules. I have started to make mine.” My rules were posted earlier as part of the post. I will post them again at some point during the month. But when I started making mine- I  also wanted to know what women like me, thought.  Not the ones who are ‘well-versed in ideas of the feminine’. Just regular women whose voices are considered unimportant by even the ones who stand up for us. So this campaign is dedicated to the voice of the everyday woman.
Aastha Rana.

Aastha Rana.

The Feminine Code by Aastha Rana.

The Feminine Code by Aastha Rana.

I start with a 19- year old, photography student -Aastha Rana.
Q1) What are your views on Feminism?

Feminism is a collection of movements and ideologies that share a common goal i.e. to define, establish and achieve equal political, economic, cultural, personal and social rights for women. Feminist movements are required because our society is still a Male dominant society. Women still are not free and we are not considered as equals. We have a right to live our life as we want to live it and not under the pressure of what people might think of our actions.

These movements have helped to promote bodily autonomy and integrity and to protect women and girls from rape, sexual harassment and domestic violence.  We need feminism to control the Dominant society in some way.

Q2) Men have their Bro code. If you had to make a set of rules for women what would they be?

For me here are some of the Codes I would like to have with my girl-friends 😀

1. No girl may date her friend’s exs, past crushes.2. No hating on other women that you don’t know.  3. If a girl looks intoxicated beyond repair and needs a friend , Be her friend. 4. We ride together, we die together. 5. Presence is necessary if a friend has been dumped or if she needs a help to kick off somebody’s head. 6. If your best friend is recently dumped, rejected or deemed miserable for any reason, They get a Weekend of doing WHATEVER  they want with you as the babysitter. 7. No keeping secrets! 8. Be there to bail out your best friend from a bad date. 9. Share the details !

Q3) One woman who inspires you?

 Benazir Bhutto, the ‘Iron Lady’. She inspires me.

 

© Text-First part Saadiya Kochar

© Text + Photograph-Aastha Rana.

The Feminine Code- Change Starts From Within.

On the occasion of International Women’s Day, we dedicate a whole month to women who are choosing to change themselves one step at a time. We are going to- ‘Be the change we wish to see in the world’. So here we go forming our own set of rules. For me the first one that encompasses all others-

Be Kinder To Your Own Kind- I would want to start by being nicer to other women.

For my views on the female code read the last paragraph of this post -https://a100reflections.wordpress.com/2015/02/08/in-response/

In Response

Last year I received a mail from Iona, asking about my views on feminism. At that time, I sent her a response and contemplated publishing the letter on this platform. But since I was busy fighting my own demons, it got delayed.

My parents never had a traditional marriage. Since my mother has Bipolar Disorder, the roles that they played were quite unlike the classic man-woman roles. My Dad was the caretaker, whereas, my Mom is unlike most women you’ll meet. She is the centre of the household. I tread on matters of mental health, marriage, right/wrong rather carefully, since I have seen a lot of grey areas. As a human being, my personal beliefs disallow me to label myself. The world at large does that enough. I am not and will never be a feminist. Just like I will never be a good girl, a smart girl, a polite girl or an activist. If I had to label myself, I would call myself a ‘wanderer’ or a ‘seeker’- someone who looks for.

But since I was asked about my views, here they are-

“I am an odd person to ask about contemporary feminist views. Considering I’m a 35 year old photographer who travels to Rajasthan and Kashmir by road. At times unaccompanied, at times with a house help or an assistant…unlike most women I feel safe driving around in the middle of the day or night. This or when I say I’m not the bra burning type, infuriates all the lovely ladies who I bump into at Jantar Mantar or even artists who have been working for the cause for decades.

According to them I come from a privileged background, I only travel in my SUV; I never use public transport and therefore, in conclusion I’ve never been harassed by a man or I’m unaware of what most women go through! Now, that is a little bit unfair.

I’m well aware of the patriarchal system and especially amongst the class of society I belong to. Hailing from a Sikh business class family where the boy is the sole heir to the family business and the ancestral property, the reason I will inherit anything is because of the untimely demise of my younger brother. Most of my sisters won’t. So patriarchy I understand, through and through.

You ask for my views: therefore, I blabber… indulge me. I can’t quote Simone de Beauvior. Not because I can’t; it ain’t rocket science but because I don’t like to. She writes about the double and deceptive visage of women in the chapter, ‘The Myth of Woman in Five Authors’ in the Second Sex –‘’She incarnates all moral values, from good to evil, and their opposites; she is the substance of action and whatever is an obstacle to it, she is man’s grasp on the world and his frustration: as such she is the source and origin of all man’s reflection on his existence and of whatever expression he is able to give to it; and yet she works to divert him from himself, to make him sink down in silence and in death. She is servant and companion, but he expects her also to be his audience and critic and to confirm him his sense of being: but she opposes him with her indifference, even with her mockery and laughter.’’ So on and so forth; I can pull out my copy of the book, write down a couple of interesting lines and sound like the real deal! A true feminist but I’m not one.

As for the case of feminism in India, there are some feminists I’ve met who I admire. There’s Sheba Chhachhi who can be considered the ‘true feminist artist/photographer’ and Deepti Sharma from Saheli who is staunch supporter of repealing AFSPA and is part of the group, ‘Voices against 377’. Why I mention  these two is because these two veterans have been working quietly for the cause, without judging what others do.

But on the same topic, I have to agree with an essay written by Madhu Kishwar, about the initial phases of the feminist movement in India, which I find is still relevant.’’ In India new opportunities were made available for a small group of western educated women who gravitated towards feminism. Being absorbed in international feminist circles brought upward mobility, in jobs and careers and international conferences and study programmes. This access to jobs, consultancies and grants especially in universities and from international aid organization came relatively easy to those calling themselves feminists as compared to those unversed in feminist rhetoric. This was contrary to the experiences of the western feminists who had to struggle hard to find acceptance in their professions.”

I’m not playing the Devil’s advocate and stating that we don’t require feminism. Nor that women are safe in India or we don’t have to worry about inheritance issues or female infanticide, the economic/ sociological/ psychological issues faced by women. But the feminist movement largely disillusions me. I recently went for a protest against the rape of two Dalit women and the gathering was miniscule. There are some highly publicized events and issues where everyone turns up and some things it seems don’t count. They say it has nothing to do with class! Then there is the way in which we as artists are supposed to portray the issues…the Muslim woman is a clear example. Why am I supposed to portray every Muslim woman, with or without a veil as a totally subservient creature, just to be termed a feminist?

My ‘privileged’ existence and my sexual preference (I’m straight), discount me from ever being taken seriously in certain circles. But since I’m not looking for funding, I don’t care. A 100 pieces of me is my way of taking the time to understand the issues of each individual woman I meet, her thoughts, her life and what she wants from it. Not my label of who she is or what she ought to be!

As for how never having been harassed by a man, there are many instances. I am after all an unmarried woman, who does exactly what she pleases. So I get my share of harassment and my share of flak. Plus, each time I travel to a place alone, it’s automatically assumed it’s for a man. But the one thing that will remain imprinted on my mind was a remark that was made by a ‘progressive’ friend, ’ that’s why you’re not married because you’re bossy!’

Men will never be considered too assertive but a woman who means business is considered bossy and then her personal life, marital status etc can be dragged into any conversation. But these are issues that persist everywhere. After all we are under the male gaze.”

Since, we have opened the Pandora’s box, let’s see what I think, now. As usual I have more questions than answers.

In my adolescence, I believed that if I ever did get married, I would never take on my husband’s surname. In my case it would have been taking on, since, I thought that using my father’s name was also a label and that took away my personal identity. I have considered following the Sikh tradition of using the surname ‘Kaur’, but my religious identity is as questionable as the rest of my identity. The cover of my first book, Being- has just my signature on it. My signature till date consists only of my first name. I now call myself ‘Saadiya Kochar’,  due to an attachment to my sibling. But there has been another change in thought, over the years. I wonder if my sense of who I am is really attached to a name?

A lack of a lucid reply. Let’s retrace my steps. This is what I wrote on Fb on the 30th of December 2012.

“We go out and protest for the rights of a girl we didn’t know. Outraged, as we should be! Yet we never stand up for the rights of the women we know. Why don’t sons whack their fathers when they beat up their mothers? Why don’t brothers share their ancestral properties with their sisters? How does a father watch a man emotionally abuse his daughter? Why don’t the women of a household ever standup for any injustices inflicted upon the other female members? Why do we say it’s wrong but ACT like it’s all right? When we can watch it happen to the women we love… this was a girl we didn’t even know! We should demonstrate for Damini. But what happens to those rape cases that go unreported every few hours? Women are abused everyday and we watch it every single day! We women should first teach our sons, brothers and spouses something only then will the society change. That is demonstration!”
I  envy people who can ride the same train of thought. I change my mind at least twice a day, so holding on to a thought from 2012 is too difficult for me. As I read this another question pops up. If every one is going to change the society and the people around them, when are we going to change ourselves?
My entire life, most of my interactions have been with men.  Teachers, mentors, bosses, assistants I have been surrounded by the male species. Though, I went to a convent school, I kept to myself and the few female friends I made, were also like me, always surrounded by male relatives. Though my work has been about the female energy, my personal life has been a far cry from it. But suddenly, there has been an influx of women in my life and I have started to understand many things about my own kind.
Men have an unspoken understanding, the bro-code as they call it. Women have no set of rules to deal with other women. We are the first ones to pull a woman down. A guy will think twice before saying something unsavory, women can say and do anything to each other. Last year I joined an office, where all the women claimed to be feminists but I never heard them say one nice thing about each other. I realized that as long we are fighting for the victims we all stand together. But when it comes to dealing with someone from our class, who directly affects our lives, the rules change.
The only way we are going to change society, is by changing ourselves. The first step is to make your own set of female rules. I have started to make mine.
Let your work be about celebrating the female energy. Stand up for the women you know, not just the women you don’t. Promote the female voice. Don’t try to alter other women to your standard, live and let be.  Increase your interaction with women, even if it’s uncomfortable. Never go after another woman’s man. The mother-in-law is not a monster. Try thinking one good thing about a woman you don’t like. Let your female relatives/friends know you’re always on their side.  Put your money where mouth is and always stand up for yourself.
This is why I can never be a feminist, I’m fighting the wrong person- Myself!