Feminism and things connected to it have come to be sniggered upon. In cities the general perception is that we have come a long way from the age when girls and boys were considered unequal. I often wonder if we really have come that far? I have been born into a family where I have not faced any gender bias so I do not connect with the feminist movements on a personal level. However there are issues that as girls or women we face that makes us feel that even now the gender bias is deeply ingrained not just in our day to day interactions but on a far deeper level.

I am going to go with this blog post into a territory that I have not written about before. Today while I was reading Times of India’s ‘Crest’ edition which had a cover story on feminist movements, I was reminded of Eve Ensler’s path breaking play- ‘The Vagina Monologues’. A scandalous name for sure but when I saw the play a year back at the Prithvi theatre in Mumbai, I was more sensitized than scandalized. The play resonates with every woman of a generation back for whom just the word ‘vagina’ would be blasphemous, let alone be something they would talk about.

Cast of the Indian adaptation of Eve Ensler’s path breaking play ‘The Vagina Monologues’

I say a generation back because our society today is a lot more open to debates and discussions. To those wondering what the play is about- I’m sure you will Google search it any way. However to still give you a gist, it is a compilation of a number of stories of women belonging to different ethnic backgrounds. The play, in a humorous way touches on issues ranging from rape and molestation to being comfortable in one’s own bodies.

It raised so many issues that we shy away from talking about but the recurrent theme was that as women we have to first learn to accept and love ourselves. Women in our so-called modern society too are victims of violence and crimes mainly sexual in nature. This is not just restricted to certain parts of the world but is a universal issue.

In a war zone women gain prominence in ways that are not so pleasant. What I mean is that in cultures across the world, a woman’s body is associated with ‘honour’. It naturally means that in a war or situation of conflict, to harm the enemy, you attack where it hurts the most. Every woman your enemy holds dear becomes the target.

‘RAPE’ is the biggest war crime according to a report by United Nations, not because people are starved of physical intimacy but because it is symbolic of hurting a man’s pride.

Herein lies the first bias. It is assumed that the man owns the woman, so to be able to be intimate with another man’s woman is to attack him in more than just one way. It is also an attack that the woman cannot redeem herself from, she merely ends up being a pawn in the larger scheme of things.

She is not punished for who she is but rather for who she ‘belongs’ to.

Being a mass media student I understand one thing. Media is a reflection of society at any given point of time. That also gives me the evidence that as a society we are opening up to debates about issues related to women and do not just brush them under the carpet anymore. One example is the earliest advertisements of sanitary napkins (yeah I’m going talk about that as well 😛 ).

The plot would be very simple. A worried girl would come running to her mother and whisper something into her ears. A crease would form on the mother’s forehead. Time for the product to make an entrance! The advertisement would then end with everyone smiling. Nobody would even use the word ‘period’, let alone discuss it. Times have changed and how! Such advertisements are now are a thing of the past and so is the stigma, at least in the city that I live in.

Biology has created two different sexes in the animal kingdom for a majority of species. Society is simply trying to strike a balance with that basic fact. We will make mistakes but eventually every society chooses a system for itself. If you agree with the majority view then all is well. But if you beg to differ from the masses, therein lays a problem. What is right and what is wrong is always subjective.