Empowered Woman? Who is She?

Author: Khadija Begum

I was at a local film fest earlier this week that was screening movies by amateur film makers on gender based violence. During one of the audience discussions, a girl who must not have been older than 13 and an actor in the movie, in a very well-meaning manner asked a question: How do we teach boys/men to deal with the new generation of empowered/progressive women?

A lot of answers flew around the room but the question bothered me for some reason and I couldn’t put my finger on it for a long time. Then I realised it was the very phrasing of the question “How do we teach boys/men to deal with the new generation of empowered/progressive women?

It gives us an insight to the problem of power imbalance. That female empowerment is a problem that men must “deal with.” Instead of teaching men to “deal with the new generation of empowered women” we should be teaching them to “understand the new generation of empowered women.”

Perhaps the best way one can begin to understand an empowered woman is by defining her. Is she someone who wears a red lipstick? Is she ambitious and career minded? Can she be called empowered if she wears a hijab? Does she have to be well-versed with theories of feminism? Can she really be defined by her choice of lifestyle and clothing? It isn’t that hard to say.

We must begin to change the question from “deal with the new generation of empowered women” to “understand the new generation of empowered women.”

While an empowered woman is definitely not a single construct, at the heart of it all lies one idea – an empowered woman is the one who is able to devote herself to that which she finds meaning in; who can exercise her rights and her choices.

If this idea can be grasped by everyone, the Indian society which has been opening up slowly for a while now, through the efforts and initiatives of many, will reform at a quicker pace. Our business is and always will be to ensure that this awakening is uniform in all cultures and classes of society.

How to ensure? By addressing the issue on all levels that it exists, i.e., societal, professional, household and the individual. There must be gender sensitization sessions in schools, colleges, offices etc. That media and literature is needed which challenges the mainstream notions and stereotypes. The gender roles in office spaces and homes have to be redefined or rather undefined so that they loosen any paradigm of unwarranted limitations. As an individual, one can understand an empowered women by being conscious and critical.

However to truly check the problem of power imbalance, we need to take the next step of awakening, which is, evolving. We evolve when we leave behind our distrust in change; when women empowerment is not a topic of discussions, dialogues or debates but a way of life; when the idea of empowered woman becomes a norm. All of which could take a little more time. Until then, one can strive to be more empowered each day because the best way to make someone understand an empowered woman is to project one.

Khadija Begum writes at ‘Unduly Unruly’ and is a contributing writer at the Conversation Room. You can follow her blog here:

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Wikipedia Proves Fake News Hysteria is Bullsh*t

Katherine Maher, executive director at the Wikimedia Foundation discusses how Wikipedia went from a site loaded with errors and false information to the world’s trusted open encyclopedia.

Through the process of constant self improvement and a dedication to ensuring accurate information, Wikipedia shows that sorting fact from fiction is a much easier job than has been made out from public figures such as Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

Maher suggsts that the way news is consumed and how information is spread is more the problem than fake news itself.  It is the profiteering, commercial model of clickbait and stretching of truth as companies and individuals fight for our screen time that must be seen as the focal point of fake news.

She states the product design is flawed and the major providers need to take a stand on the way information is presented to the consumer and allowing quick resolution to removing what is fake, just as Wikipedia has done:

“When I’m looking at a Facebook feed I don’t know why information is being presented to me. Is it because it’s timely? Is it because it’s relevant? Is it because it’s trending, popular, important?
All of that is stripped out of context so it’s hard for me to assess: is it good information that I should make decisions on? Is it bad information that I should ignore? And then you think about the fact that all of the other sort of heuristics that people use to interpret information, where does it come from? Who wrote it? When was it published? All of that is obscured in the product design as well.”

So does Fake News really have the problem or is this an obfuscation of what is really causing the spread of misinformation?

Has Western Feminism Been Hijacked By SJW’s?

In this piece Jo Rogan speaks with Jordan Peterson to discuss some of the ideological misgivings of how Feminism is being framed and used to discuss things which aren’t about gender equality in America and the West.

While it is perhaps unfair to have a real discussion on this without a woman on the panel, the debate raises some key concerns about the dilution of Gender Equality and increasing victimology as opposed to female empowerment. 

What do you think? 

Why Brexit Was an Anguished Cry For Community

In this powerful, insightful interview Owen Jones speaks to actor Martin Sheen about Working Class Britain.

He describes how you cannot underestimate the power of the “take back control” message. You are talking about communities that have lost all sense of control in terms of de-industrialisation, globalisation and abandonment from central government.

However this is  little to do with EU membership but needs to be tackled at a domestic level; measures such as co-operatives, credit unions and community governance which can alleviate many of the stresses and anxieties communities face in 2016.

This is a wonderful interview and well worth a watch in full.

Is First Lady a Demeaning Role?

 

What is the role of First Lady? Is it a dated, patriarchal role or has it evolved into something worthwhile and meaningful?

The first lady’s role has never been codified or officially defined in the U.S, yet she figures prominently in the political and social life of the nation. Since 1790s the role of first lady has changed considerably. It has come to include involvement in political campaigns, management of the White House, championship of social causes, and representation of the president at official and ceremonial occasions.

In this powerful clip, we see how Michelle Obama has evolved the role of First Lady and has been a hugely significant and resonating force of the White House. She has refused to accept that Trump bragging about sexual assault is another blip in the election campaign but has called on women and men alike to truly contemplate the horrific, magnitude of the Trump Tapes.

 

michelle-obama

What Should Indian Feminism Look Like?

Author: K. Phani Krishna

The following article is divided into 4 points. This article is my take on what feminism should be in India right now. Feminism much like the word politics has been misused and misinterpreted a lot nowadays and it’s not a good thing.

What is Feminism?

According to google, Feminism is the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes. Nothing more, nothing less. Feminism is the fight for equal rights, equal pay, equal opportunities and equal social norms and acceptance for both men and women. A lot of people consider feminism the fight against atrocities against women. It is not. You don’t have to be a feminist to condemn rape. You don’t have to be a feminist to realize if a woman is raped every 30 minutes in India, it’s the man’s fault. Feminism and fight against rape are two different movements. One is moral while the other is both moral and legal. One aims to bring about a change in the thought process, the other aims to bring about a change in actions. The whole of India condemns rape and is furious about the rapes but that doesn’t make us feminists. It just makes us human. It is essential for us to not associate feminism with fight against rape.

Why do we need Feminism?

We need feminism because its 2016. Gender should not be a factor in judging one’s abilities or talents. There is nothing a woman cannot do that a man can. This includes both good and bad. PV Sindhu, Priyanka Chopra, Dipa Karmakar and many other women over the last few years have shown us that given the same facilities and opportunities, women can do as good as men. We need feminism because its high time we left the medieval principles of a patriarchal society and moved towards being a more modern and accepting society.

The two sides of the coin 

Just like any other issue in India, even Feminism is highly polarized and the state of feminism is completely different in urban and rural India. In rural India where people still are skeptical about sending their daughters to schools. Where people prefer to educate their son over the daughter. Where young girls are denied access to education and are forced into other activities or even marriage. These are the places where reservations for women and aid for education of girls are required. In urban areas, not so much. In urban areas where girls have access to the same schools and same facilities as the boys, there is no need for reservations or aid. What was intended as aid ends up becoming privilege and in a way hinders further growth.

However in urban areas we need to ensure at a higher level, women are paid as well as men provided they do the job as well as the men, if they do it better, pay them better. Serena Williams raised an issue in tennis. She said the prize money for the ATP (men) and WTA (women) tours was different. To which she got a reply stating the moment WTA tours attracted the kind of crowd and viewership ATP tours did, the prize money would be equal. There was widespread debate on this topic. My personal view is that it’s fair enough. You cannot expect the organizers to pay you more even though their investment recovery is generally less, just because the men are paid more. So my point here is we obviously need to pay both men and women on the basis of the merit of their work and the number of hours they have put in for work and not gender. If a woman is better than a man at a job, you pay her better. If she works much harder, pay her better. The most important point here is that the converse also has to be accepted. If a man is better at his job than a woman and if he is putting in more hours, he deserved to be paid more. If we understand this logic, we are good to go as far as feminism is concerned.

Solution

The most important role in this fight for feminism is of the urban women. The uplifted women. Women who have rational parents. Women who are educated. Women who can stand up for themselves. You need to let go of these privileges. You will have to stand up for yourselves. If we scrap all the reservations or aid for women after a certain economic level of their parents. We can channel all that money into the upliftment of women in rural India. We can build more girls schools and colleges. We can bridge the gap between an urban girl and a rural girl. If we manage to accomplish this, we have won half our battle.

The men have to realize that women are no less. We must respect them, treat them equally and most importantly not discriminate them because of their gender. We must not let their gender be a factor in determining their abilities nor their worth (salaries).

Together we need to educate our future generations about equality and we must ensure we leave the world to be a better place than when we inherited it from our ancestors. There is change coming up slowly. Its high time we accelerated the pace.

The most important point I’d like to make is India has so many issues like Gender discrimination, communal violence, violation of freedom of speech. There is only one common solution to these problems and that is rational thinking. If each and every Indian develops rational thinking right from their childhood, feminism, gender equality, communal harmony and freedom of speech will be eventualities.

Phani is a Mechanical Engineering student writing on a variety of important political & social issues.

You can visit his blog here:

https://phaniwritesblog.wordpress.com/