Tuesday, Jun 28, 2022
Outlook.com
Essay

Freedom Milometer

The Indian women's movement may not have hit the home run yet, but it's got the bases covered

Freedom Milometer
Sandeep Adhwaryu
Freedom Milometer
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

Trying to remember our way into the past may not help pinpoint the exact moment of change, but it can certainly help us measure the depths. Language is the first indicator of this to a writer. Have you paused to notice how easily and in how many contexts we have begun using terms such as gender politics, reproductive rights, sexual harassment, sex workers, male supremacist and female infanticide? The mainstreaming of words such as these (and their counterparts in other Indian languages), is not just indicative of an expanding vocabulary. It also captures a transformation of popular perception and, often, reality as well.

I don't think my own generation of midnight's daughters was exactly averse to discussing marriage, sex and career as students, but I'll admit we were mostly pretty naive and perhaps even conventional. Our colleges hadn't heard of a subject called Women's Studies and sexual harassment, even of the most gross kind, was routinely described as eve-teasing. True, even today one will hardly ever find a campus where young women are not worrying about one aspect or another of balancing their private and professional lives. Many still see themselves as half-beings, destined to marry a bloke 'found' by the family, before planning a long-term future of any kind. But that should not blind us to the fact that power today is being redefined in girls' heads, and you may be sure it will surface in time. Given the dependencies of their early life, Indian women, unlike their men, radicalise with age, when they acquire an air of authority as wives and mothers. Most Indian men, on the contrary, seem to de-radicalise and become more and more conventional with years. The staff rooms in girls' colleges, the boardrooms of companies and banks, the state sachivalayas and Parliament in Delhi, all are chock-a-block today with greying matrons who have quietly begun challenging the conventional male ideas that have shaped the politics of their workplaces and their own lives. Many of them are today the successful professionals their families had hoped they'd marry some day.

Outlook Newsletters

Read More from Outlook

Lament Of Separation: Songs Of Habba Khatun, Last Queen Of Kashmir, Still Echo In Valley

Lament Of Separation: Songs Of Habba Khatun, Last Queen Of Kashmir, Still Echo In Valley

In happy times and sad, Habba Khatun’s sensuous songs make both young and old emotional. With the never-ending conflict bringing tragedies to every doorstep, Habba’s lyrics of separation amplify their mourning.

How Indian Laws Govern People’s Right To Love And Live

How Indian Laws Govern People’s Right To Love And Live

In India, only those relationships between a man and a woman are considered to be legitimate when there is a marriage between the two.

Kohli Quits Test Captaincy, Leaves Leadership Vacuum

Kohli Quits Test Captaincy, Leaves Leadership Vacuum

Virat Kohli, 33, had recently stepped down as India's T20I captain and was subsequently removed as the ODI captain.

UP Elections 2022: How Congress Is Harnessing Power Of 'Persecuted' Women To Counter BJP

UP Elections 2022: How Congress Is Harnessing Power Of 'Persecuted' Women To Counter BJP

A Mahila Congress leader, who is the face of the ‘Ladki Hoon, Lad Sakti Hoon’ campaign, however, has accused the party of anti-women bias after she was denied a ticket.