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SubscriberWrites: A poem to highlight the personal experience of working women in India

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I am Sangeeta Kampani, formerly from the IRS and retired as a Commissioner of Income Tax, Delhi. Here is a small piece of verse— ‘ DNA of Feminism’ that I have composed for the ‘YourTurn’ section on the occasion of the upcoming Woman’s Day. It emanates from my personal experience of working outside home for decades and being constantly cast in the image of womanhood that society deems appropriate. These gendered expectations flow out of a monologue, not a dialogue. Even in 2022, every single rape that occurs is laced with conversations on women’s attire, on whether she was wearing a provocative dress, on why she was travelling alone at a particular time. Any voice against it is quickly labelled as a rebellion and meets stiff resistance. Moreover, sexism is all around us and yet no one seems to see it. A classic case of emperor’s new clothes! This composition, is an attempt to stir a conversation on a woman’s basic right to make her own choices ahead of 8th March, Woman’s Day. 

DNA of Feminism

My friends insist sexism is long extinct

That I talk rubbish, all gobbledygook 

That what I call conflict

Is a concoction I have cooked. 

They insist mine is an insurrection, 

Against the spirit of what a woman essentially is 

Against the idea of what a woman ‘should be’

Against the discipline of gender

Against the demands of gender

Against the biology of gender 

Mine is the assertion that biology cannot be destiny. 

That if feminism has any DNA, it is anti-exclusionary. 

I am told I should wear pin-striped pants to my job

A bow or a tie clipped to my business shirt,

I am told to dress more like men

To look more authoritative, gender-neutral for the right impact 

I assert that that the emphasis on ‘presentation’ as the central aspect of my being

Is completely irrelevant. 

I insist I want to dress up with elegance and femininity 

I want to embrace who I am with authenticity

I insist I carry the world on my shoulders, 

That I am capable of climbing every single boulder

That I should not be always made to travel in a loop of gender,

I insist that the power structure should accept diversity 

The manifoldness of my being, of ideas, of thought 

That I am not an item or a commodity or an object

That it’s time to stop virtue-signalling, 

That I be assessed on the basis of my work

That only performance, not appearance be my judge

That I just cannot be the version of womanhood convenient to others

That I am no chameleon, constantly changing colours

That I can be appealing, pleasing, daring , maternal, reliable, efficient, sensual, sexual, mysterious 

All at the same time. 

Feminism is my right to be the way I am,

The bangles I choose to wear do not  reflect my strength or vulnerability 

Nor my clothes,

I can wear a dress, long or short

A dress, tight or loose

At the end of it, it has to be about me

And the choices I make.

Also read: Women should stop leaving money management to spouses. Here are 5 steps to catch up

These pieces are being published as they have been received – they have not been edited/fact-checked by ThePrint.

Source: The Print

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