Hi, and welcome to #TalkbackTuesday, which is where I feature people and interview them. It is always inspirational to look into the life of another, and realize it is just as complex and confusing and large as your own.
This week’s interview is text-only. For this week, I spoke to my sister, Anmol Gupta. See below.
Q1. For the readers, who are you, what do you do, and what are you currently working on?
Hi, Anmol here. I am currently a law student (and you can find me on LinkedIn) in my second year, studying in National Law University Odisha. And there is no singular thing that I am working on as of now, but I write fairly regularly on my blog, which you can check out here. Otherwise, I just go about my usual business, and consciously avoid the tag #JustLawSchoolThings.
Q2. This week’s theme is Empowerment. What event in your recent past has been the most empowering or freeing for you?
Funnily enough, I have been on a spree of taking decisions that some people find conventionally empowering for women. I cut my hair short, got a nose piercing, plan on getting a tattoo, etc. However, these are hardly empowering as they were just spontaneous decisions that I whimsically took.
“Empowerment [happens] through gradual realisations and a better understanding of the shitty society around you.”
Honestly speaking, the one thing that I found liberating recently was stumbling across the phenomenon of “tone-policing”. While growing up, I was constantly reprimanded for not having the “correct” tone, no matter what I said. Understanding that it was a sexist notion that revolved around the fragile egos of people, helped me not feel bad about myself unnecessarily. Thus, in my opinion, empowerment or liberation doesn’t happen through singular changes or make-overs, but through gradual realisations and a better understanding of the shitty society around you.
Q3. What is one stigma that stands out to you as extremely damaging or constraining to self-worth?
Linking to what I said previously, I think the notion of having women be happy, polite, and quiet is absolute bullshit. The entire gender is capable of having mixed emotions and ideas of how to conduct themselves because, mind you, they are different human beings with different personalities.
However, the truly damaging aspect of this stigma impacts your self-worth when you (understandably) don’t live up to the societal expectations. It is not enough that I am unhappy about various things in my life, I must also feel the constant insecurity that I am doing something wrong or that there is some trick to happiness that I do not understand.
It is not enough that I get reprimanded because I don’t smile (and why should I?), a man having similar traits is lauded for his serious and sombre attitude. And oh, if I speak out about it and I am (again understandably) angry, I am told to fix my tone, lest I hurt more egos.
Q4. Do you feel the situation in India is worse off than in other countries, given the regular news of people being attacked or killed for not adhering to perceived gender roles, appearances, and behaviours?
Sexism is prevalent in every part of the globe. It might be more veiled in the western countries, and more overt here and in Middle Eastern countries, but it is not fair to say that a certain country is worse off than another because both men and women suffer to some extent everywhere, and labelling in this case leads to digressing.
Note from Vaibhav: If you don’t like any of the points being made, don’t shitpost. Don’t dismiss the spirit of the argument for the sake of language barriers. Ask below in the comments and we’ll provide a clarification.
“It is not fair to say that a certain country is worse off than another because both men and women suffer to some extent everywhere.”
That being said, the situation in India is fairly bad and the problem is exponentially worse with class issues, i.e., the middle and lower classes are more at risk, considering they are not entitled to constant security, and the rural population still follows the caste system, which is inherently sexist in its fixed gender roles. However, I feel that, with the recent rise of fundamentalist propaganda, no one can be deemed safe. As statutory figures have taken it upon themselves to talk shit and abuse their positions of influence, I am very pessimistic of any progress in the near future.
Q5. Got anything to promote? I’ll shill it in the blog.
Yes, the cause of feminism please. And yes, I am an angry feminist, who is (understandably) pissed off about the world, as should you be. And no, I don’t see why that’s a problem.
Seriously speaking though, if there were a list of things I want to promote, gender equality would be on top. Kthxbai.