Before I begin with this, I would like to make a confession. I, my friends, have never studied feminism in any way. I know about feminism only through popular campaigns, media, outrages and documentaries. Therefore, I write this from the perspective of a 19-year-old girl who has, after accepting and rejecting different versions of it from various sources, found her idea of feminism. All I wish to tell you is, how I found feminism; feminism inside my home.
Let me begin, by reproducing here, some of my fondest memories. Memories of kindergarten, when my father used to feed me my cornflakes before school. The memories are just flashes—of my father’s big hands feeding spoonfuls of soggy cornflakes in warm milk. I also remember how he used to give me and my brother head baths on Saturdays and Sundays and then make us sit and dry them while he told us crazy stories he had created. My father’s hands were large, hard and manly—a stark contrast to my mother’s dainty, soft ones. But apart from the physical differences in those hands, I could never tell which ones had nurtured me and my brother more— because really, my parents were equals. They have both had an equal share in raising us! My father used to help my mother in ways such as getting us children ready for school, feeding us breakfast, and several other household chores. In this time, my mother used to cook, wash and perform other duties after he was gone for work. She used to lovingly tell us bed time stories at night ,answer our doubts ,patience-testing uncomfortable questions and baby talk us to sleep.
My father helped my mother because he considered it a responsibility to help his wife, he did not want my mother to be the only one struggling with daily responsibilities, a dream of pursuing higher studies and of course, two children. And so, they struggled, but struggled together. They shared their worries, tensions, joys , responsibilities, problems, fears and decision-making ,working as equals. And so, I remember both my parents as nurturers. Many of you might think all this is rather trivial . But I mention this, because all my life, others have found this preposterous, the idea of a man helping his wife at home. When people used to find out that my father helped at home, they used to express shock,disbelief and even disgust at times. It was to them, unbelievable, that it is the help that men provide to women, that allows them to grow.
A couple of years after kindergarten, life changed for me and my brother. My mother started working. She had taken a break from her teaching job so that she could dedicate time to us. But now that we were older, she decided to have a career after having sacrificed it for 9 years. Earlier, it used to be such that she would be back home before we even returned from school. But it is when she started working full time, that we became sensitive to her. Her needs and even father’s. He was already helping her a lot, but my working parents could not manage just by themselves. They sat us down and explained to us, this fact. And so, me and my brother decided to be more resourceful at home; simply, by behaving ourselves when she was not around, not complaining, studying well, performing small household chores and being self-sufficient children. This, again, seems trivial. But trust me, it means a lot to a working mother. And as children, we realised our responsibilities towards our working mother. She was a human being. She could not discharge all her duties without the help of other family members. She was no goddess.
And this became a routine. Today, my mother has successfully established a teaching career for herself ( cheers!) . My high school experiences led me to arts at the undergraduate level and am currently enjoying myself. In all these years of growing up, not once, have I faced discrimination as a girl. My family cares for me as much as my brother is cared for. My thoughts, dreams, career and choices matter to them as much as his. They allow me to have opinions, even if they are foolish. They love me as much as they love my brother. They have honoured their daughter ( read Malala Yousafzai ).
Today, in our home, we live together with understanding, patience, tolerance and respect for each other. We do fight, we do have shortcomings, we are all vulnerable. But we share our struggles and make compromises for each other. For each one us acknowledges that no one is superior by virtue of sex. We acknowledge that as men and women, we are just part of the same family. We take this attitude to wherever we go, because everyone is equal, everyone is human.
For us, like Emma Watson said, It is not the word that is important. It is the idea and ambition behind it.