19 September, 2020

Madam Mossless

The ’70s feminist icon looks back with pride

Jitender Gupta
Madam Mossless
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

If there’s one label that Vina Mazumdar hates, it’s being called a feminist. And yet, when a power group of women politicians, academicians, officials and activists gathered last month on her 83rd birthday to salute this frail woman in a crumpled cotton sari, the improbable doyenne of the Indian women’s movement, once hailed as the Betty Friedan of India, there was no escaping the f-word.

“It’s our pride that kept us from calling ourselves feminists,” she now explains. For women of her pre-Independence generation, feminism was an admission of failure, rather than a flag to brandish. After all, she points out, women like her had fought shoulder-to-shoulder with men to get rid of the “damned British” and had ensured that when the new Constitution was being drafted, it guaranteed equality to all citizens, including women. She was 45, mother of four and a respected academician before she discovered the truth.

There was nothing in her own middle-class background and upbringing, she says,...

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