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Why Is ‘Feminism’ A Bad Word For Priyanka, Sonam, Parineeti And Others In Bollywood?

By Shiva Sharma:

priyanka chopra sonam kapoor parineeti chopraMovies are one of the strongest mediums of conversations. As a young undergraduate in the United States, watching Hindi movies was not only a way to get a taste of back home but something I would sometimes use as a way of showcasing my culture to my international friends.

With coming of new age movies, it is deeply satisfying to be enamored by powerful women characters in our industry. The journey of Rani in ‘Queen’, the virile character of Vidya Bagchi in ‘Kahani’, or a Veera in ‘Highway’, Meera in ‘NH10’, Piku in ‘Piku’; they were characters that showcased a strong sense of the changing, although sluggishly, face of Hindi cinema. It is of course not to imply that India did not have movies with strong central characters. However, with this new wave of movies, these strong female characters are becoming household names.

These fine female actors, accentuating these strong characters, became role models for many. I started looking up to these leading ladies with a new-found awe and respect, and therefore, it is personally hurtful when some of these women make irresponsible comments about feminism. Emma Watson in her UN speech eloquently summarized the existing stigma and why it is so harmful to our society. In the recent Jio MAMI interview, Sonam Kapoor on being asked if she was a feminist promptly said that she was a feminist, although she liked to wear her bra. Priyanka Chopra went on a similar stride of insinuating the bra-burning stereotype when asked if her show was a feminist show. She even said that the show did not have men-hating women. This is problematic.

Firstly, because it propagates the myth of bra-burning. The bra-burning trope was established at the Miss America protest. The feminist protest, organized by New York Radical Women, included tossing a collection of symbolic feminine products into a trash can on the Atlantic City boardwalk. No bras were burnt.

Secondly, the feminist movement has gone through various transformations. In fact, there are different points of views held by different feminists’ movements. For example, a liberal feminist focusing on public institutions for gender inequality might have a different approach than, for instance, a psycho-analytical feminist.

However, if assuming that there are feminists who hate men, and these public figures are holding them representatives of feminism; it is a huge problem. It is generalization in its ugliest form, and it is disheartening. What is most problematic, I think, is that there is no conversation about it!

Nobody asks Priyanka Chopra why did you insinuate men-hating when asked about feminism. There is no prolific dialogue happening around it. Not only are these women professional actors, but sometimes also bastions of mass movements.

Parineeti Chopra recently was named the brand ambassador of a feminist movement, Beti Bachao Beti Padhao Andolan. She said that she is often mistaken to be a feminist, but she is not. In the same sentence, she added that she is against gender inequality. That seems contradictory, paradoxical, and honestly baffling. Why are we not engaging in a conversation? Why are we not asking Parineeti that heading a feminist campaign, why is she not a feminist? What is the problem according to her with the word? Of course, there is a stigma attached to the word and we are not talking about it, and these women are enforcing stereotypes by making erroneous statements. These should be points of conversations leading ways towards conducive understanding, rather than something that just goes unnoticed. There are too many questions, and no answers because we do not have a mainstream dialogue about connotations of feminism.

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  1. ItsJustMe

    This article is why they reject feminism. Didn't YKA run an article where some girl who has done nothing in her life compared to Parineeti, went on a rant against Parineeti Chopras latest fitness initiative? Why? Because she was trying to motivate people to live a healthy life? Since when is gender equality synonymous with feminism. Feminism has always been about female supremacy and the leaders (not your liberal feminists who climbs out of a hole once in a while, influential ladies who have identified themselves as feminists) have made it plenty clear where they stand, take Gloria Steinem, Hilary Clinton etc. Its a female empowerment movement. Acknowledging that does not make it any less popular. There is always going to be support for women empowerment from men and women alike. But denying the man hate themes of feminism, which is so much evident in Indian feminists and a lot of radical feminists around the world is hypocrisy at its peak. When you cannot point to any movement by feminists around the world for straight men and their rights to be a parent to their child after divorce, right to have a say in a pregnancy that he is involved in, unfair alimony payments and child support payments, etc. you cannot call it an inter sectional movement for gender equality. That is why there are so many women around the world against feminism http://www.womenagainstfeminism.com. If you want to believe in feminism blindly and subscribe to their twisted philosophy of what they call gender equality, feel free. These women does not believe it, and you ranting about their “ignorance” is only proving their point. Its like how Anupam Kher reacted to the intolerance remark by Aamir Khan by targeting him in social media. You are proving them right, that feminists only side wit women if they agree to be a feminist. Else they are all ignorant and beneath you

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

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Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
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