Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Feminism Is Not A Dirty Word- Here’s Why

I was recently reading a travel blog by an Indian woman who’s travelling abroad solo. From what I've read of her blog, I've gathered that this young lady is educated, has held a job and lives in the National Capital Region (I’m tying to be as vague as possible). She also happens to be married. The reason why this piece of information is important is because in her blog she talks about how she’s an independent woman, whose husband had no problem whatsoever with her decision to travel solo- which is really sweet and how a marriage should be like. But what caught my attention was one of her posts in which she says she doesn't identify as a feminist. This is when I got a bit annoyed. Okay, so I got very, very annoyed.

What I did next was look up the meaning of the word feminism in the dictionary and here’s what I found- “The advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of the equality of the sexes.” Sounds good to me! So when someone (a man or a woman, because feminism isn't just a woman’s domain) says they’re not a feminist what they’re saying is that they do not believe in equal rights for women. That’s unfair isn't it!

I don’t see any reason why all of us should not be feminists. What’s not to like about feminism? What part of women’s liberation doesn't appeal to you? The right to open a bank account? The right to vote? The right to equal pay? The right to have a say in birth control? The right to wear what you like? The freedom of not being the property of the man you marry? 

I discovered I was a feminist when I was eighteen years old (which by my standards is pretty late). That is also when I realized that the word feminism comes with a lot of unnecessary baggage. It was a dirty word. Feminists were supposed to be angry women who didn't like to dress up and who hated men. Feminists were supposed to be unfeminine, women who burned their bras and had hairy armpits. Something I found rather odd because here I was, a young college girl who loved dressing up and wearing make up and who yet fiercely believed in equality of the sexes. 

I think it’s high time we stop making feminism the new F word. Let's destigmatize the word and reclaim it for what it truly is. There’s a lot of talk about what feminism is, but here’s what its not- Feminism is not about hating men, it’s about loving women and wanting equal rights for them. It’s not about wanting to be in control of everything, but certainly being in control of your own life and choices. It’s not about being angry and unhappy all the time, but about questioning patriarchy and gender stereotypes. And lastly, feminism is not a woman's excuse to not do housework, but about a man thinking nothing odd about cooking dinner, or washing the dishes. 

So, are you a feminist? 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

An English Autumn

This October I took a solo holiday to England. A long overdue holiday, might I add. It had been over a year since I had taken a proper holiday and I had begun to feel it. There were days I was so exhausted physically and mentally that all I wanted to do was just sit and cry.

Tiredness was clinging to every bone in my body and I was plain exhausted of waking up at 5:30 am everyday (I am a morning person, but still!). It had also been five years since I had visited England and given my long association with the country, this was a cue that a trip was due.

I visited Barnstaple, a town in North Devon which is roughly a five hour drive from London. A pretty little English town far enough from London and close enough to the sea.

London, let’s start with London. As it turns out London and I have had a falling out sorts. I’ve been visiting the city almost every year since I was a little girl and I would notice a stark difference each time I visited. This time since it had been five years since my last visit, the difference was far more pronounced. To begin with there seem to be far fewer English people in London anymore, the city is full of immigrants (I know, I know London is a “world city” and all that) and that’s not a problem. The problem is when these foreign workers are in customer facing jobs, with surprising little command over English. I mean I’m in England, I expect to be spoken to in English! Or is that too much to be asking for now? I’ll even deal with the broken English, but then they’re rude! All I was doing was asking for where the next train to Terminal 4 would come and before I know it I’m being commanded to “GO THERE, STAND, WAIT”. Well okay then! And don’t even get me started on how expensive everything is in London!

I guess I’m just mourning the loss of London the way I knew it as a little girl. London and I go way back. Even though I’ve never lived there, that’s where I spent all my summer holidays every year. I grew up playing in London’s neighbourhoods as much as I bruised my knees playing on the street outside my house in Delhi. So since I’ve been having this love-hate relationship with London for the past many years, I’ve been skipping the city on most of my visits to the UK. I land in London and in a few hours I’m on a bus out of the city.And this time, my only motivation to spending a few hours in London was to visit Platform 9 and 3/4.  London, you and I need to have a talk, but in English please and a little more politely!

Barnstaple on the other hand is smaller, prettier, laid back AND the locals are polite! It’s the kind of place where you can enjoy long, perfectly aimless walks without being run over, or have a nice and friendly conversation with a perfect stranger (about the weather in most cases) without the fear of being mugged, or raped. Maybe I’m being dramatic, but I live in Delhi. Enough said. One of the many lovely things about Barnstaple is also how close it is to the sea and all you need to do is hop a bus to be at the nearest beach in twenty minutes.

I think I’ve said enough and so I’m leaving you with some pictures of my holiday to do the rest of the talking.

Ticking Platform 9 and 3/4 off my bucket list.

The weather was kind and luckily I had many a sunny, blue sky days

Straight out of a fairy tale

You cannot go to Devon and not have Cream Tea

And you cannot go to Barnstaple and not go to the Cream Tea Cafe

This little bakery is where I want to be a bakers intern

Fish and Chips and Sausages - Enough Said

A sunny day spent by Ilfracombe Beach is day well spent
Homesick for these lovely little cobbled lanes already