I have been a feminist for long

Written By

Charmi Trevadia

Feminist Loading

I have been a feminist long before there was a word defining people seeking equal rights for everyone. And I strongly believe that every person with a moral code should be a feminist. Let me tell you why.

There is something inherently dark in the way we bring up our girls. And I don’t mean to start a war over anyone’s parenting or life skills. But there is something very disturbing about the way we teach our young women to lead their lives. You don’t believe me? Let’s hear it from the mouths of women we see every day, hear from every day and still ignore every day:

At 4, I was the girl who was reminded that I was lucky that the sonogram didn’t deter my parents from going ahead with the pregnancy and I must be grateful to be alive.

At 10, I was the girl who got saddled with cooking and embroidery classes at school as a part of developing life skills while my brother played cricket and basketball as a part of character building practices. I was trained to be the next Tarla Dalal but never Mukesh Ambani.

At 14, I was sexualized for my growing nipples, the slight curve my posterior was beginning to take on and my period. I was no longer the girl who could laugh and play with abandon, I now had to be careful of my own father. Don’t spread your legs and sit, don’t talk back, lower your eyes while walking on the street, don’t touch this and that, don’t pray, wear modest clothes, don’t ask for a stay over at your best friends place, don’t ask for the rights your brother has at 14, because you are a girl.

At 16, I watched. I watched as I was silently pushed into the kitchen to learn to make round rotis while my brother began exploring life, love and addictions. I watched as I got beaten down for believing that I had the ability to make a choice while defying the choices society had made for me. I wanted to be the girl who knew how to ride a bike, how to kiss like one would remember and how to make choices and stick to them. Instead, I became the girl who knew how to make round rotis.

At 18, the blatant disregard for my individuality was apparent. Don’t be the girl with too many opinions, don’t be dark, don’t be fat, don’t wear short dresses, don’t wear loud make up, talk softly, don’t swear, don’t be more intelligent than the guy in front of you; stay available to our fantasies about your life; adjust, avoid, compromise, compensate, listen, stop talking. Do everything you like, just in the limits we set for you. And don’t you dare ask us to change anything for you. And while I was taught subservience, my crazy brother stopped showing signs of emotion. We were being pulled into separate directions without consent.

At 21, I passed college with distinction. And yet, I wasn’t allowed to work because – why would a girl need to work? I would have a husband who could feed and clothe me, take me out for holidays, as long as I did what he said. I felt like I was being forced to be the person who married for money but my aunts chided me for fantasizing about this stupid thing called love. I stood as a protesting and horrified witness to a prospective life partner being reduced to a bank statement. The poor guy would not have a partner in marriage because I wouldn’t have the opportunity to be an equal.

At 25, I was the woman who was shamed for being single. My salary, my achievements, my abilities didn’t matter if I didn’t have a man beside me. I bleached, waxed, plucked, and shopped compulsively to entertain my mother’s dreams of finding myself the perfect Aryan man. But my hands weren’t the right color, my eyebrows weren’t thick enough, I never lost my big mouth and my bullshit tolerance levels had exploded. Yet, the waterworks kept me grounded, my wings clipped and my promotions, out of mind.

At 28, I was the woman shamed for not bearing children. People came up with unsolicited advice on how to conceive, how to keep him interested, how to birth a male child, how to control your man using your child. It didn’t matter if I wanted to see the world, enjoy life with my partner, focus on having a career or just not have maternal instincts. My value was always calculated based on my relationships with the men in my life. I was always a wife, sister, daughter or aunt, just never me. I would always be branded as incomplete without a child, no matter how fulfilling I felt my life was to me.

At 35, I was the woman with no energy for her dreams. Everyone had a plan and a schedule, I had to make sure everyone kept working on their dreams while mine lay shattered somewhere between the time I was 25 and 35. I was not too young to make new plans nor too old to forget everything about them. Yet, I couldn’t think of letting others figure out their own while I looked at my own.

At 45, I was tired. Really tired. Of letting go, of adjusting, of doing things out of fear and shame.

I could go on but I am guessing this is enough for the day. You see, the way we bring up our girls and live our own lives is far from fair. There is everything inherently dark about it that we cannot avoid seeing and yet refuse to change.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

I am Charmi Trevadia from Mumbai. I freelance as a content writer and social media manager. I love food, movies, reading and traveling. I dream everyday of receiving my Hogwarts letter and have a soft spot for panda videos and Minion toys. I love writing stories because I think it is our best chance at spreading love and changing the world.

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