Choices, for Empowerment?

C

Moving on to the third day of the A to Z blogging challenge. Today’s letter is C. I toyed for some time with two topic ideas, two choices, both equally dear to me. In the end, I decided to go with the one with a positive ring to it. The other choice is important too, but let’s leave it for another day.

So, Choices. Deepika Padukone’s Vogue video has almost made the word evil. I saw it right before sleeping a couple of nights ago. At that time, it didn’t register more than a “meh” in me. Only the next day, when I thought about it some more, and read people voicing their opinion about it, did it strike me as bordering on absurd. When the video began playing, I had half the mind to stop it right away, for more than anything, it looked scary! Right out of the Ring series!

To be fair to the team that created that video, the intent seems to be right. Everyone, not just women, has the right to make their own choices. It is the ability to make one’s own choices that brings about real empowerment. Every man and woman must be able to make his or her own choices – to marry or not to marry, to have children or not, to become a doctor or a musician, to be a vegetarian or non-vegetarian. In our country, women are more tightly bound by tradition and culture than men, to be able to make their own choices (especially in the matters of marriage, sexuality or progeny), which is why they end up being less empowered by men. For real empowerment, choices need to be equal for both men and women.

However, proceeding to say that as a woman it is my choice to indulge in adultery, toΒ run wild if I want to, to deny you the pleasures of a relationship because I so wish, seems to border on narcissism, or worse chauvinism. Like many people have ranted on the internet in the past few days, if the same words were to be uttered by a man, he would have been shot down with criticism for being backward and an MCP.

We all live in a society, and in order for the society to function smoothly, there are some strictures and rules that need to be followed. No, I am not talking about caste divisions or discrimination. For any society to prosper and flourish, values like honesty, integrity, trust and faith need to be upheld at all times and by everyone. A society is but a network of relationships, and in a relationship, trust and respect is very important. The culture or mutual collaboration, teamwork, integrity and shared success don’t belong only to the corporate world. It starts from the very basic relationship – between a couple, between parents and the child, between teacher and the student. One cannot leave these values to choice, for if one does, then that will only give rise to anarchy and chaos.

So what are the choices then, that empower?

The choice to not be bogged down when life pulls you down, and fight against all odds to succeed in life. Like Patricia, who braved poverty and loss to emerge as a successful restaurateur. Read her full story here.

PAtricia

The Choice to be healthy, for yourself and the people who love you. Like Angelina Jolie Pitt, who underwent a double mastectomy and a hysterectomy to protect herself from Cancer, so that her children didn’t have to suffer the agony of an ailing mother.

Angelina

The Choice to stay at home and look after the children, while the other partner keeps his or her day job and becomes the primary breadwinner for the family. Note here that I have kept the words gender neutral, for this is equally true for both moms and dads. While I know a great many moms who gave up their lucrative careers to care for their children, I also know of an absolutely fantastic dad who decided to stay at home while his wife kept her day job. He only proves it that it is not a woman’s prerogative to give up her career or not; the choice is equally in the hands of both partners. You can read more about him, in his own words, here.

IMG_2062

Sid Balachandran – The New Age Indian Dad

Had Vogue’s video featured choices such as these, choices that really matter, perhaps they would not have met with so much ire.

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17 comments on “Choices, for Empowerment?

  1. First – the video. I have said earlier on FB that it sidesteps almost all genuine issues and concentrates on issues ranging from the merely frivolous to the plain stupid. One gets the impression from it that the important issues confronting women are 1. body size 2. staying out late at night 3. drinking and 4. Sex. In a country where right to life, education, equal treatment at work and home, and, even, safety is threatened, this is a total trivialization of women’s issues.

    On top of it, it is even confused about exactly WHAT it is opposing 1. Restriction of women’s choices 2. Commenting about Women’s choices OR 3. Liking/Disliking a woman based on her choices. Only the first can be supported unambiguously. The second is a blade that cuts both ways – women too comment on men’s choices,body size etc – and goes against freedom of speech. The third is plain stupid – Do they really think they can dictate what people should like/dislike?

    AND, as you rightly say, ALL our choices are restricted by the social compact we live in. (As they used to say in my childhood, your freedom exists up to the tip of my nose). Laws restrict some, tradition restrict others AND what we have, in all honor, agreed to in interpersonal interactions restrict yet another lot. To the extent that laws, traditions or interpersonal expectations are unfair to women, there is need to redress it. BUT, under no circumstances, will choices become totally untrammeled – unless women think they ought to be above the law AND unbound by any implicit or explicit promises that they have made in their interpersonal interactions.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Really well said, Suresh. You said everything I felt and really eloquently too. The video made no sense to me and neither did the hullabaloo surrounding it.

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    • There, you said it. The intent may be noble, and even necessary, but the execution put on pedestal the trivial and ignored the essential. I believe empowerment first starts in our mind – what I choose to believe I can do or be, as opposed to what the world tells me. The examples I mentioned CHOSE to believe in their conviction, as opposed to the flow of the world. It is the choice they made, that empowered them, but without demeaning anyone else. Lovely to have your masterfully articulated opinion on my blog Suresh! Honored πŸ™‚

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      • Don’t I know it, Yamini! I, in my own small way, have also chosen the road less followed and have seen all the pitfalls in making such choices and the need for courage to go ahead with it. πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I enjoyed reading your post and I just saw the video on your post. I have been meaning to after it went viral on social media but never got enough time..
    Well, to begin with, what was it? and to end – what did they want to convey? I am lost or am I lost?

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  3. I stand for creative freedom so I do not oppose the making of the My Choice video. I do not subscribe to the general abomination caused by the video. If you do not agree with the video, why watch it? You have a choice, don’t you?
    Though like you, I have a few questions to the makers of this video –
    1) What should be the role of the parents when a 13-year old girl wants to have sex with her 13-year old boyfriend? Should we honor their choice? Because they too, have a choice.
    2) What should you do when somebody you are out with, is busy on his/her phone on social media? Should you simply leave him/her and go home? Don’t you have a right to tell him that he should get the fuck off that phone? He too, has a choice, doesn’t he?
    3) What should you do when somebody spits paan on your brand new dress? The spitter has his choice too, doesn’t he?
    In spite of so many other questions that can crop up because of the video, I defend Homi Adajania and Deepika Padukone’s right to make a stupid film.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree Nilesh, the intent of the video is alright, but the content, well, could have been better. Unfortunately, you would not know what exactly it conveys without watching it completely (and in this case, even that would not be enough to solve the riddle). They should have put a disclaimer at the beginning… “Main is video mein kuch bhi kahoon, meri marzi’ πŸ™‚

      However, the rampant Deepika trashing this video invoked was uncalled for. It is but the sad outcome of what we have become today as a society – instantly criminalizing, sensationalizing and judging events and people without adopting a balanced view. Instant gratification, through selfies or celeb trashing, seems to be the order of the day.

      Liked by 1 person

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