Answer by Raakhee V. Menon:
I guess this depends to a large extent on what the term ‘women empowerment’ means to different people. Apparently, it means different things to different people.
For some people, this is what women empowerment means…
Or even these…
Very empowered women all of them.
But to me, this doesn’t seem like ‘women empowerment’ at all. It just appears to be a show to grab some eyeballs. Nothing more, nothing less. Once they get their desired share of attention, these women slink back into the shadows waiting for the next opportunity to repeat the next set of visual or vocal histrionics.
Once I asked a very vociferous ‘activist’ who was crusading day and night on social media (for some cause that people don’t even talk about any more now) about why she was wasting her time on this when there were far more important issues out there that deserved to be fought for…. like demanding equal pay at the workplace or fighting against female feticide & infanticide and such issues. To this, she got all defensive and told me that it is up to the activists to choose what battles they wanted to fight. I was taken aback. Since when did people get to choose what battles to fight in society? If there is an evil in society, then it became everyone’s battle, no? Somehow…I don’t agree with this ideology…this ‘choosing which battles to fight’ one.
And there is the other kind of ‘women empowerment’… the kind that I believe in…the kind that would benefit the entire country on the long run… the kind that does not believe in glamourizing petty issues… the kind that believes in hard work… the kind that truly serves as an inspiration for millions of women who have been downtrodden for centuries…to make them believe that with the right kind of attitude, they can reach great heights and stand shoulder to shoulder with men… the kind that truly empowers the woman… the kind that makes a woman the embodiment of Shakti… the Divine Mother.
To me, this is what ‘women empowerment’ means…
Does anybody feel like ‘exploiting’ such women? No. Why? Because these women are the exact result that ought to happen by ‘women empowerment’. They got it right, folks.
These women have added their own two pence in taking the name of India a little bit higher. They broke ancient stereotypes that any achievement of this magnitude can be made possible only by men. They showed the country (and the world) that attitude does indeed determine altitude!
In a predominantly and traditionally patriarchal society like India, it is highly essential for people to have the right attitude if they expect to break age-old barriers that prevented talented women from reaching the heights they deserved to reach just because they were born as a woman. It’s only through having such an impartial attitude that we can hope to race ahead with our development plans and programs. Women are just as vital to society as men are. Instead of being an additional burden, women are willing to share the burden. Then why not? Hmm?
So where does the issue of ‘exploitation’ come into the picture? What is exploitation?
exploitation – the action or fact of treating someone unfairly in order to benefit from their work.
I am yet to see any woman being ‘exploited’ for standing out in society. But the question says that they are being subjected to this. I take the liberty of assuming that exploitation here means cyber-trolling or attacking physically or virtually, etc.
So who are these people who are exploiting seemingly ‘empowered women’? Men? Other women? Society? And if they do, why should they? Unless there is some reasoning, however weird it may be, for their actions…hmm? And if society has a problem with all ‘empowered women’, then how come a large section of women (refer to second set of pictures) are not just left alone, but in fact celebrated and applauded? Hmm?
I believe that the ‘exploitation’ part comes in when women think that empowerment means what is shown in the first set of pictures. I am at a loss at how to express this… but I believe that such dramatics appear silly to a whole lot of people. No woman in her right frame of mind would actually ‘aspire to be’ another ‘Happy to Bleed’ volunteer or ‘Kiss of Love’ volunteer. But there would be loads of women out there who aspire to be another Mary Kom or Sushma Swaraj or Aishwarya Rai or Chanda Kochhar.
So people somehow view such women as attention seekers who ‘have no other job’. Maybe these women think that they are doing society a favor by doing all these things. To them, the idea of ‘women empowerment’ means being able to do or say whatever they like wherever they like and to whoever they like.
I hate to burst the bubble…but that is not ‘women empowerment’. That is ‘freedom of expression’…one of the most abused and ‘exploited’ clauses from the list of Fundamental Rights of the Indian Constitution. People who think it is so ought to look up the definition of ‘women empowerment’ and then call their activities as a part of it.
If you intend to ‘choose your battles’, choose them in such a way that you’ll be applauded and not ‘exploited’.
Images: Google images