Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Sunita Deshpande- A woman who introduced me to feminism.

People around me, especially Indians and even many of my American friends wonder why I am so passionate (and even sometimes adamant) about the issues related with the gender equality and woman empowerment. Sometimes I also get the same question, from where I got introduced to the concept of gender equality? My family members in India think that it is because I came to the USA my traditional views about women got spoiled by the western influence, but this is not at all true. The USA did influence me a lot, it changed my understandings about concepts of liberty, freedom of expression, as well as feminism, but it didn't introduce me to all of these ideas, especially to feminism. I started expressing my views about gender equality before my daughter was born (in 2000), I came to the USA in 2003, so my immigration to the USA is not the reason for my feminist views, maybe it the reason why I express those views so strongly, but the USA didn't introduce me this idea.

India might claim pride in its glorious tradition of having the progressive and liberal society where individual freedom was celebrated and books like Mahabharata, Kamasutra were written, but today's India is completely different and has a lot to learn from developed countries about gender equality and individual rights. Gender equality didn't exist in the culture in which I grew up, there was a a complete male dominance. I can only think of two major reasons to why my views are so radically different than the society in which I lived and the family in which I was born.  These are also the reasons why I revolted against the male-dominated atmosphere around me. First, I saw a tremendous amount of suppression of women around me, and as a teenager it affected me a lot. Women were treated very differently than men, there was hardly any rights or freedom given to them, they were abused for no reason, they were considered as physical objects of lust and physical enjoyment. For the names sake that society worshiped female goddesses, but then it came to equal rights to them, there were complete different standards. These things raised many doubts and questions in my mind, I always wondered why women don't revolt against this subjugation and discrimination? I was too young to know about the patriarchal culture, but all these things made me very uncomfortable and angry.

The second reason might shock many of you, it was a book by Sunita Deshpande. Yes, this amazing lady introduced me to the concept of gender equality. When I read her book "Aahe Manohar Tari," (meaning: even though it's beautiful). I was blown off to know about a woman who was so independent, strong, and powerful to fight against the patriarchal system and live life on her own terms. The book is a very impressive and sincere narration of her own story. In a true sense, in her autobiography she introduced me to the concept of feminism and I am very grateful to her for this. Since then, every other book, and my immigration to the USA confirmed those ideas and made them stronger. I am a flag bearer of gender equality, I take immense pride in supporting this cause and this cause is a part of my identity. I am sure for everyone who supports the idea of gender equality there must have been some incident which triggered the thought process or some person who introduced them to this idea, in my case it was Sunita Deshpande. Since then this idea has become part of me, and I have become part of this cause. 

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic.

[Copyright: Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing]

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