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Nothing will change if we believe nothing will change

// This article has been published on Women’s Web and is also available on the below link:

http://www.womensweb.in/2017/12/article-on-feminism-surprising-response/

Something incredible happened today! A man chanced upon my article on the Myths of Feminism and after reading it, he dropped a message in my inbox. He mentioned that he was someone who used to quite often mock the concept of feminism and though he did not intend malice, he enjoyed flouting at his feminist friends.

However, he admitted that he felt guilty after reading my article and realized the damage he was causing by countervailing the efforts of those contributing towards the movement. He also confessed that his own understanding of feminism was flawed and now he has resolved to actively advocate for this cause. After having come across derisive comments about feminists splashed all over social media every other day, I had to read this reader’s message several times to ensure I was not hallucinating. No prizes for guessing that I am absolutely ecstatic after reading his note to me. Through the power of my pen, I had set out to do my bit to bring about a change, albeit a small one at my level and this incident reaffirms my belief that I am on the right track. For someone who has been told innumerable times by many that “Nothing will change” as an outcome of my endeavour, this feels like a vindication of sorts.

This incident actually made me traverse back in time. It has been more than 4 years since I actively began to get involved in volunteering with NGOs. I can vividly recollect some of the things I have been hearing ever since.

“Anu, I am proud of you. But, will doing all this really change anything? Trafficking will continue to happen. Nothing will change till the mindset of people changes”.

“Why will someone change their views just because you or for that matter anyone else is asking them to? Do sensitization workshops really work?”

“Oh! It is wonderful to read what you write but those who really need to change will not change just by reading an article.”

So in a nutshell, “Whatever we do, nothing will change till the mindset of people changes.”

And then we are also cynical about the positive transformation of this ‘mindset’. Why? Humans are meant to evolve and I know a good number of people who have changed their thought process and outlook with time, including myself.

Beauty does not lie in the eyes of the beholder

// This is one of the winning entries of “Warrior Women” blogathon contest conducted by Women’s Web in association with Juggernaut Books. Fact meets fiction in this tale of two warrior women.

The alarm kept ringing unremittingly but Reeti woke up from her deep slumber only after her mother’s squawk reached her ears. She shot a hasty glance at the clock while she dived towards the bathroom to freshen up. She was late for office again and she knew she would have to face her mother’s wrath as this had become a routine off late. It had been almost 3 months since 23-year-old Reeti began having prolonged midnight conversations with Ritul who lived in Pune. Ritul and Reeti had connected on Facebook through a common close friend. What started as a casual Facebook messenger chat had now turned into a clandestine affair, though there were no talks of commitment from either of them yet.

Reeti gaped at the mirror and felt crestfallen. She was almost in tears looking at the malevolent, outsized pimple that had popped up right at the tip of her nose. All the efforts she had been putting in since the last few days to ensure a scrupulously clear and radiant face had gown down the drain. Ritul was in Mumbai for a customer visit and it was a special day for her – their first date! But she did not want to meet him now. He would also mock at her skin just like some of her friends and relatives did during her growing years. From medical treatments to her grandmother’s hacks, she had tried it all in the past but the pimples kept coming back with a vengeance. There was a time when Reeti was extremely miserable and down in the dumps because apparently no boy had a crush on her ever, even though she was considered to be a benevolent, affable and intelligent girl. But, once she began working for a leading MNC, her self-confidence increased and the thoughts about her physical appearance started taking a backseat. Though she had never met Ritul, she felt a connection with him and was keen to take this relationship forward. He seemed to be a sensitive and level-headed man but Reeti was too scared to lose her worth in his eyes. She did not want him to think of her as an unappealing woman and wanted to look beautiful for him.  But, the bulky bump on her face had shattered her desire. With a heavy heart and moist eyes, she sent him a text message.

“Sorry Ritul, I cannot meet you this time. Something very urgent has come up at office and I will have to work late hours. Hope you understand. Hugs!”

Feminism – The Facts and the Misconceptions

// This article has been published by the reputed media/news company YKA (Youth Ki Awaaz). It is available at below link:

https://www.youthkiawaaz.com/2016/12/feminism-the-facts-and-the-misconceptions/

This article has been published by Women’s Web and is available at below link:

https://www.womensweb.in/2017/01/what-feminism-is-not/

This article has been published by Bharat Moms and is available at below link:

http://bharatmoms.com/blog/feminism-the-facts-and-the-misconceptions/

While scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed with my sleeping baby on my lap, I read a news article about an eminent cricketer whose family got his newly-wed bride’s name changed post marriage. I glanced at the comments section of the post curious to know how the masses had reacted to this news item. Expectedly, while some people expressed their disapproval of such an act enforcing a change of identity on the woman, others had no qualms about it as they perceived it to be her choice. I would refrain from getting into my take on this particular issue as the intent of writing this article is something else. In the same comments section, someone had posted a joke – “Feminists be like why Nelson Mandela and not Neldaughter Womandela?” This was supposed to be funny because there were more than 500 likes on this comment and possibly a few years back I would have had a good laugh reading it too.  No more! Far from making me laugh, the “joke” actually made me feel disappointed, piqued and helpless, all at the same time. Such jokes send across the message that feminists fuss over non-issues and fight for trivial matters.  This was not the first time I had come across such a bizarre comment about feminists and feminism. It is so common to see memes, sneering comments and ridiculing jokes all over social media which condone feminists or which mock feminism. This happens because a significant percentage of people have absolutely no idea about the feminist movement and what feminism really stands for. “Oh now the feminists will come and start their sermon”, “Oh the feminazis are hypocrites” , “If someone touches any lady, it is rape but if a lady sleeps with many men it is modern feminism. Haha” – these are the exact comments on any post that is remotely related to a woman issue and if you have come across them too, you probably already know that it’s actually much worse. It’s heart-breaking to see the constant use of “FemiNazi” in a derogatory manner by people to take a jibe at feminists. It is so frustrating at times that I wonder why it is that hard for people to understand the simple concept of equal rights! But then, reality is that it isn’t really straightforward because our minds are steeped in patriarchy and most of us have internalized sexism to an extent that we cannot see the obvious many a time. It is something that has trickled down from many generations ago and therefore, we cannot expect it to change so soon.

Kudos Savlon India for a plan well ‘chalked’ out!

Few days ago, while browsing through some business news articles on internet, an article titled “Savlon unveils ‘Savlon Swasth India Mission’ on Children’s Day” caught my attention. I was intrigued and read on further to know more. What I learnt was that Savlon India, an ITC personal care brand, has launched its Savlon Swasth India Mission programme to bring about behavioral change towards hand hygiene among children through engaging, interactive and fun educational initiatives in schools. This is in consonance with Savlon Swasth India’s proposal of ‘Healthier Kids, Stronger India’. Savlon Swasth India Mission aims to boost ITC’s ongoing efforts in sanitation and hygiene education in India, which had kicked off a few years back.

Savlon1

The article also included a YouTube video which was unveiled by the brand to give more insight into one of its brilliant on-the-ground initiatives to promote the habit of washing hands appropriately in primary schools. This extremely innovative, unique and intelligent initiative is called ‘Savlon Healthy Hands Chalk Sticks’.