14 May, 2021

Freedom Milometer

The Indian women's movement may not have hit the home run yet, but it's got the bases covered

Sandeep Adhwaryu
Freedom Milometer
Some day, no doubt, students of gender studies will reach a consensus on precisely when feminist thought first began to make a difference to the lives of India's women. Was it when an indigent villager, Gaura Devi, clung to a tree to save it from the axes of the contractors' men, and the historic protest movement Chipko was born? Or should we credit the 1975 report on the status of India's women, or Mathura's rape trial for having forced the nation to rethink democratic ideals of liberty, fraternity and equality vis-a-vis the nation's women?

Trying to remember our way into the past may not help pinpoint the exact moment of change, but it can certainly help us measure the depths. Language is the first indicator of this to a writer. Have you paused to notice how easily and in how many contexts we have begun using terms such as gender politics, reproductive rights, sexual harassment, sex workers, male supremacist and female infanticide? The mainstreaming of words such as these (and their counterparts in other Indian languages), is not just indicative of an expanding vocabulary....

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