This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Zainab Ahmed. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Dear Society, Please F**k Off. Sincerely, A Feminist

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The week when we were all mourning the murder and rape of the veterinarian in Hyderabad, I received a wonderful message from a woman. The lady, who hasn’t met me ever, but has pretty actively stalked me on social media, called me a slut for having more than one boyfriend and, in fact, stooped down to the extent of calling my parents too careless to leave their ‘young‘ daughter ‘unattended.’ But this amazing woman isn’t the only one I’ve faced.

Five months ago, one of my relatives asked me very excitedly, “Betaji, shadi ke kya irade hain?” (Any plans to get married?) “Aunty I’m moving to the US for further studies. So maybe later,” I told her. And, all hell broke loose.

She judged me. A lot. But more than that, she judged my parents, my mother, especially. From “Hindu-Musalman maa baap ke bachchon ki shadiyan hoti nai hai na jaldi” (Kids of parents who are Hindu and Muslim don’t get married easily) to “Iska toh koi tha na. Breakup ho gaya kya?” (Wasn’t she dating someone? Did they breakup?) to “Ye Feminist type ki ladkiyan shaadi nai karti” (These feminist-type women don’t get married), aunty-weirdo concluded everything.

In another very interesting incident, a highly ‘educated’ male friend saw me with a copy of “Can We All Be Feminists” and asked ‘jokingly‘, “So, you’re a feminist, haan? Tell me, do you also have a piercing down there? You feminists chics are always angry but pretty hot too. I totally loved feminists!” My dear ex-friend, with all due to respect to you, please shove your love and joke up your a**.

Image provided by the author.

Honestly, that aunty and the guy aren’t the only ones. Neither am I the only one facing these furious dragon-humans judging every girl through their suffocatingly narrow prism of her dressing style, her drinking and smoking habits, her partners (if multiple, Tauba Tauba!), her religious inclination (After all, atheist ladkiyon ko bahu Kaun banata hai? Jo Bhagwan ki nai hui wo tumhari kya hogi? etc, etc. (Roughly translates to ‘Who makes feminists their daughter-in-law? The one who isn’t God’s can’t belong to anyone.’) and many such trivial, but compulsory, parameters.

As women, we are often told to sit properly, eat less, talk less, smile but not too loud, act coy, be mysterious, not speak out our minds, actually, not have minds at all, not have male friends and definitely not boyfriends, be sincerely religious, have patience, not step out of homes, not be feminists, and blah blah blah. The list is endless.

While we all get angry once in a while and post a very furious status or tweet or a long Instagram post, we all move on as soon as the anger is done with and try being that nice, sanskaari girl again who would go to any extent to make her parents happy and proud. Even being subject to marital rape. After all, providing sex to her husband is a wife’s primary job, isn’t it? Don’t roll your eyes at me! Go, ask Bollywood or even better, our politicians or lawmakers who don’t think marital rape is crime enough to be added in the list of crimes against women.

We can cry and shout and protest for all we want, but let’s ask ourselves: will that keep us women safe? Didn’t we protest enough in 2012 after the Delhi gangrape? Yes, it did amend the laws. But more than law, it’s the common mentality of people that needs to change. Agreed, it’s not an overnight task. It will take years to break free from the chains of these cultural, social, and political chains.

Part of the essay
Does my silence attract you?

There is a very frustrating myth surrounding the cause of rape and our dear politicians and even family members have voiced it time and again (almost after every rape case). The myth is: if a man is too horny or sexually deprived, he will attack any unguarded woman. After all, ladke toh ladke hi hote hain. Galtiyan ho jati hain. Hai na Yadav Ji

But, NO. It’s high time, we stop giving power to these judgemental aunties and uncles, and our overprotective fathers and mothers, and controlling brothers, and boyfriends and husbands over us. We need to tell them that just because a girl is working late, staying alone, hanging out with the opposite sex, is sexually active, drinks or smokes, she is not a target to be judged, ostracised, molested, and raped.

No, she’s not your passive voice. She’s not someone’s wife, someone’s daughter, someone’s girlfriend, someone’s sister. She’s SHE. She’s a woman. She’s human. She’s an active voice. And she’s going to raise her voice, speak her mind and shut down your every lame judgment till you stop seeing her through that tiny dot of sanskaar. She’s not yours to claim. She refuses to be.

Yes, it’s a long way to go before we call it a woman’s world, but right now, it’s time to say a big F*** YOU to you and your highly judgmental society that will stoop as low as possible to shut down a woman’s voice. Be it her cries or her anger.

So, dear society, please, F*** Off. And before you leave, don’t ignore the ‘please’. Tell me, it makes me sanskaari enough to ‘politely’ ask you to you-know-what.

P.S This is not a rant.

You must be to comment.
  1. Mathi

    ‘She’s a SHE.’ Perfectly articulated.

  2. Suhana Sahib

    I couldn’t have asked for any more words to further explain your ideas.
    It is more than satisfactory to read your words, for all those uncles and aunties who have making their glass-ceiling stronger everyday. Not realizing that women power is much stronger than their useless thoughts, because our courage can break any barrier. Hats off to you Zainab.

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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.

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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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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 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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