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“Am I A Hypocrite?”: Questions I Ask Myself As A GenZ Feminist Woman

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Often, a prerequisite for building relationships with others is allowing yourself to exist in a state of extreme vulnerability- the mortifying ordeal of not just being known, but seen, judged and treated in a certain way for it.

Romantic relationships, in particular, come with a funny feeling that you’re putting your neck out on the line. And just like any other interaction between people, they are deeply influenced by the social identities of those involved, in terms of their gender, race, caste or socio-economic class.

For heterosexual women living in patriarchal settings that always favour and venerate men, the dynamics of dating often look like a subtle reflection of what we see in political arenas and entertainment media, with women being encouraged or forced into submission, service or dependency. 

Representational image.

Having been exposed to the unjust mechanisms of society, most of my peers and I find it easy to empathise with the choices of our mothers and understand the reasons behind our fathers’.

But it also makes us want to never be in similar relationships, ones that are based on the sacrifice, labour and suffering of the woman and dominance and non-accountability of the man.

Dilemma Of Relationships

That is not to say that we refuse to get involved or look down on other women for their choices. It simply means that the romantic experience for us goes hand in hand with constant reminders that the power and privileges exclusively enjoyed by our partners might affect the way we or other women are treated by them.

This could mean anything from them disguising sexist remarks as party jokes to them refusing to condemn the corrupt actions of their friends. 

Navigating non-platonic relationships with this knowledge then becomes a dilemma in itself, for the kind of vulnerability they necessitate for women often does not fall in alignment with their personal beliefs or sense of self-worth.

For instance, we end up giving second and third chances to people that don’t deserve them, simply because of our attachment to them, and it makes us doubt our own power, assertiveness and our ability to stand up for what we think is right.

Dating, thus, often leaves us questioning our core principles and feminist ideals and make us wonder whether we’re only capable of upholding them beyond our personal lives. 

Having been exposed to the unjust mechanisms of society, most of my peers and I find it easy to empathise with the choices of our mothers. Representational image.

While it is human nature to not want to be dependent on others for your happiness or needs, the internal pressure to prove your self-sufficiency – financial, emotional or material is amplified when you’re a woman.

Considering that Indian women are paid 34% less than men for performing the same job with the same qualifications, why are decisions like paying or not paying for dates or even splitting rent equally or proportional to the incomes of both partners anything more than matters of personal choice?

Why do we believe that there is a right or wrong way for us to exist in relationships when there isn’t even a level playing field to begin with?  

Nonetheless, so much of dating as a cis-het feminist woman is persistently questioning yourself and your relationship at every step of the way. Are you being a hypocrite? Do you really agree with this? Could you have communicated your boundaries better?

Does it not bother you anymore or do you just feel the need to please them? Is your partner actually a feminist? Are you unintentionally enabling microaggressions towards yourself or other women? What if you’re just conditioned to the male gaze? 

Burden Of Saying ‘No’

And then there’s another undeniably uncomfortable aspect of dating and being in relationships – saying no, the consequences of which vary for men and women.

For most women, it means an insane amount of repetitive and blatant disregard for their boundaries and an unreasonable amount of guilt for having the audacity to ‘friendzone’ someone despite all their ‘niceness’ while for some it may be a direct threat to their safety or worse.

Anticipating being treated in such a manner for merely being honest is bound to make anyone less open to putting themselves ‘out there.’

In essence, dating for cis-het women often means having to deal with a tension between their chosen standards for a relationship and what happens in reality. This dichotomy makes it harder for them to be in non-platonic relationships that don’t feel like a disservice to them.

Even so, at the risk of sounding too preachy, a strong suggestion from another feminist would be for you to vocalise your discomfort as much as possible, however insignificant it may seem at the moment.

It is important to call out your partner’s or their friends and family’s problematic behaviours (if any) from the start for they set the tone for what is and isn’t acceptable in a relationship and to establish and re-evaluate your boundaries every now and then.

Most importantly, try to remember that the only ‘feminist’ way for you to interact and engage with others is however it seems right to you. 

The author is part of the current batch of the Writer’s Training Program.

Featured image is for representational purposes only.
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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.

Read more about his campaign.

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.

Read more about her campaign.

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.

Read more about her campaign. 

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.

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.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

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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.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

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.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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