Only one mountain can know the core of another — Frida Kahlo
In a big extended family, with lots of cousins, we were a lot of girls of similar age growing up, struggling with our identities in a stereotypical patriarchal tam-bram (upper caste tamil, for the uninitiated) family in a patriarchal society in the 80s and 90s. Those were interesting times for us. Though we were growing up in different cities and were really belonging to different generations (in terms of family tree), we seemed to be struggling with the same concepts. And that bonded us 7 girls.
I do believe that we all had radically feministic ideals and ideas, collectively and individually, as a group of 7 teenagers. Though these ideas may have gone through a series of transformation over the years as we all have entered our 40s. The age that Jung says life really begins. Up until that we are merely researching, he quips.
How true is that, for me. And after all the research, today when I meet or speak to (unfortunately, rarely) these special women I grew up with and we discuss where we are in life, I realise that feminism is not the ideas we pontificate about. It actually is apparent in our daily lives and the choices we have made. And most importantly, it is apparent in our acceptance of these choices and individuals we have become.
Feminism is about being an individual who breaks every conceivable and non conceivable shackles that the society has imposed. Both by the traditionalists and by the liberals. Yes. But more importantly and more relevantly, Feminism is about making and owning choices for ourselves.
Whether the choice was to stay and then eventually move away from a difficult marriage. Whether it was to never get married. Whether it was to discover who one really is, later in live- after being married and having kids at an age when one hasn’t even understood who they are or what they want for themselves. Feminism resides in the choice to become a mother of two wonderful kids through surrogacy after coming back to life from a life threatening illness. As it does in choosing not to have a kid — biological or otherwise. The feminist among us is the one who took over her dad’s business and it is also the one who broke down mentally and built herself up to become a doctorate.
Today as I look back, to when we were all naive idealists, to our journeys that have brought us here, I am happy to say we were and are all feminists. Whatever the popular definition of the term maybe at large, however much it may be scorned because of its inappropriate usage in the world at large. Feminism, for me, was an ideal growing up. I lost it in the maze of things that life had become. I got scared of the power it showed me I had. I got disillusioned by the scorn that the misuse of the term by marketers and influencers brought to it.
But today, I embrace it all heartedly. For today, I know what feminism truly means to me. For I have countless examples of exemplary women who inspire me.
I am not saying that feminism is limited to women. But this post is dedicated to all those women with whom I grew up and first sowed the seeds of feminism with.
It is dedicated to the women who taught me, that feminism is not in the things we say, its in the choices we make; who taught me that being a woman means to be strong, courageous and gentle/soft at your core.