Patriarchy is a “mindset” and feminism is a “war against this mentality”, according to politician Shazia Ilmi, who said the latter was not limited to any particular gender.
She was speaking at a panel discussion titled ‘Be Bold For A Change’, which is also the theme for this year’s International Women’s Day.
“Patriarchy is not limited to a certain sex. It resides in all of us. There are privileges that come with being a man. That’s patriarchy for us. It’s a mindset. It is not just in men.
“Whenever we have an informed discussion on the subject, it is not a war between the sexes. It is a war against the mentality. And women are very much part of patriarchy. We often see women berating each other. It’s the patriarchal thought that make us judge each other. So we have to fight that,” the BJP leader said.
She went on to say that the image of women in India was based on several “indoctrination that we grow up hearing around us”.
“Indoctrination like ‘diamonds are a woman’s best friend’, ‘way to a man’s heart goes from his stomach’ are commonly accepted. And the blame is upon us because we accept these. Such stereotypes need to be broken,” Ilmi said.
The session was also attended by theatre artist Sita Raina, fashion designer Madhu Jain, entrepreneur Nilofer Currimbhoy and Kuchipudi dancer Bhavana Reddy.
Seconding Ilmi, Currimbhoy elaborated upon how women are “responsible for the way they are”, since they have allowed others to “control their lives”.
Citing her mother Shahnaz Husain’s example, Currimbhoy said, “She did a lot to put women in charge of their own lives. I think the problem with Indian women is that they live for expectations. They expect from their mothers, fathers and husbands. They are so busy trying to please everyone around them. A lot of women are responsible for the way they are.”
“Ownership of your life is really important. I think most of our lives are owned by somebody else. And we have given them that permission,” Currimbhoy said, calling Indian women to “be their own owners”.
Jain also pointed out that due to the patriarchal mindset the general response of men towards women is always different from how they react to a man in authority.
“I try to work with women centric groups. Try to work with women as much as possible. But when I deal with my employees, the way they respond to my son is very different from the way they respond to me. It is very difficult for them to see a woman in a position of authority,” Jain said.