Padma who has pointed out the extremes we could be headed for if the female foeticide and other wrongs against women continues passed the baton to me for my take. On a serious note, we both share a lot of concerns on the status of the girl child in India, female foeticide and the discrimination that uneducated poor women still face overtly and educated employed women face covertly in this country. So on both our behalf, I present the serious side of issues relating to feminism.

What does feminism mean to me? I hate labels and usually stay miles from any isms because I do not want to become rigid in my thinking. But certainly I will not stand by and let anyone, man or woman, treat me or any other woman shabbily in my presence just because of our gender.I cannot be stopped from doing something because "women don't do it." For me there is only one criterion for deciding what I can or cannot do - whether it is right or wrong from a humanist point. I am not unduly sensitive or paranoid and dont go about looking for discrimination everywhere with a microscope but I will not tolerate even in jest expressions like "after all, she is a woman" or "a woman should behave like a woman" ( so often heard in Tamil films and on Television - "pomblai pomblaiya irukanum" "after all ponnu nee, unakke ithanai thimir irundaal aambilai avanukku evlo irukkum?")

I shared her outrage when I read Shruthi"s post about sending bangles to Sachin.

I laugh when educated women - women hailed as women of substance marry peepul or banana trees because they have a flaw in their horoscope, or observe certain type of fasts which are meant to keep their husbands in good health or give them longevity of life. Yes I know a medical doctor who observes Savitri vrat.Needless to say I do not consult her anymore on medical issues.

I am repulsed when doormat like behaviour of women is romanticised - for example portrayals of Paru and Lolita on the big screen; Worse when young women copy this behaviour and voluntarily subject themselves to abuse from their lovers, all in the name of love. Sunita's post here reminded me of this.

It sickens me when women models promote beauty products in advertisements so that a woman can be more alluring to her man

Today we have come a long way from the traditions of child marriage and Sati and the misery of Widows in Benares and in law we are all equal and yet we wait for someone else to "allow" us to be free, to "give" us our rights.
As long as the sense of equality does not come from within us, no one else is going to get it for us. As`The Rational Fool says in this post women have to rebel wherever they find discrimination. To fly you need to use your wings and your lung and muscle power not piggyback on someone else.

I do not feel the need to refuse to cook or to wear trousers or burn the bra to assert my belief that I am equal to a man. His attire or behaviour is not the reference point for me to be considered his equal. I am convinced that I am as human and deserve everything that he does and will not be "told" what I can or should do by Man or Woman.
I do not consider myself a feminist but do share the same plight as Rebecca West
"I myself have never been able to figure out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat."

The status of women in India and my views and those of the readers of my posts has been discussed in this space in many of my earlier posts here, here, here, here, here and here.

I have known many of my generation and those of the younger generation tell me that things have changed "a lot" since independence and today's women are equal in every way. I know some of these people personally and see an illusion of freedom and happiness in their lives. They have always been "allowed" to do what they wanted - so they assume they are free. Perhaps there has been no conflict of interest. The actual power balance comes into play only in situation of conflict of interest:
"in marriage, he respects woman as wife and mother, and in the concrete events of conjugal life she stands there before him as a free being. He can therefore feel that social subordination as between the sexes no longer exists and that on the whole, in spite of differences, woman is an equal. As, however, he observes some points of inferiority – the most important being unfitness for the professions – he attributes these to natural causes. When he is in a co-operative and benevolent relation with woman, his theme is the principle of abstract equality, and he does not base his attitude upon such inequality as may exist. But when he is in conflict with her, the situation is reversed: his theme will be the existing inequality, and he will even take it as justification for denying abstract equality."
(Simone de beauvoir, Second Sex)

So it might be a good idea for every woman to assess her situation and see if she is really free and equal - if she is really free to do anything she wants to even when it challenges a man's ego and pride. Secondly whether a woman is able to identify with another woman primarily as a woman irrespective of every other point of difference between then - caste, language, religion, economic status, colour etc. and whether they are able to express outrage at the insult and support for the victim wherever they find a woman discriminated against.
Therein lies the hope for the future of woman power in India.