Exploring Mira Rajput's polarising take on feminism and its repercussions

Siddhi Desai

Mar 12, 2017 10:27:48 IST

From the A Day Without a Woman protests, UN’s Planet 50-50 by 2030 campaign or even the backlash TIME received for thinking that people would care more about Amal Clooney’s baby bump rather than her powerful words demanding justice for the victims of ISIS atrocities; the aftermath of International Women’s Day celebrations has been quite positive, to say the least.

But what comes as a thorn in the side of these causes for gender equality is something that took place much closer to home. It was a string of comments made by Mira Rajput during an International Women’s Day event.

Her statements are so problematic that they cannot even be collectively critiqued.

Here’s a look at the many faults her various ideas have regarding feminism, or rather, her perception of feminism. Here is the full interview with Mid-Day in case you wish to decide for yourself.

Let’s get going with her first statement.

“It’s my choice if I want to be at home, it’s someone else’s choice if they want to be a working woman. Feminism isn’t about man versus woman. It’s about equality. There’s a new wave of feminism that’s come which is about aggression. I feel it’s very destructive. I feel there should be a harmony between the two sexes. If either one of them tries to take the place of other, there will be chaos.”

First things first, this whole declaration is a contradictory mess, to put it lightly. Mira accurately mentions how feminism is about equality, something that people are still coming to terms with in 2017. But then her whole argument devolves when she mentions that women are trying to take the place of men.

Simply put, if there has to be any form of ‘harmony between the two sexes’, women will have to fight to be shoulder-to-shoulder with men. It’s about time women don’t shy away from asserting that they have been oppressed for years and that there is nothing wrong with raising your voice to change status quo.

It is quite unfortunate that Mira has the notion that this so-called new wave of feminism is aggressive; it only proves that the men have managed to become the dominant voice in the issue of gender and social equality. Feminism does not equal ‘chaos in society’. What is more chaotic is that a movement asking for equal rights is being misconstrued as ‘chaos in society’.

What’s more chaotic, and problematic, is that she is considered Shahid Kapoor's wife first, and Mira Rajput second.

Moving on, “I am a homemaker and wear that label with pride.” No one is arguing with that. However, the feminists that you have an issue with are fighting so that women aren’t shoehorned into these very labels you speak of.

“I had a tough pregnancy. I went through those five months of difficult times to bring our daughter into this world. Now I want to spend every moment that I can with her.”

Fair enough, but what she says after this is what sparked the debate across social media.

“I love being at home and love my child. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I wouldn’t want to spend one hour with Misha and then rush off to work. Why did I have her? Misha is not a puppy. I want to be there for her. Seeing her grow can’t be quantified.”

While we are still recovering from that tasteless analogy, it’s crucial to look into how insulting this proclamation is to working women. This statement blatantly implies that by being a homemaker and giving your child all of your time, you are raising your child better.

It seems that Mira also requires a reality check. She initially said that it was her choice if she wants to be at home. For some women, that is not a luxury that they can indulge in. In order to give their family and their children the financial backing that they need, women have to work. Rose tinted glasses of privilege often mask the struggles of the middle class working women, and Mira’s ill-informed choice of words reinforce this obliviousness.

Mira thinks that she may not need feminism, but it’s simply because she has already been reaping the benefits that the movement has made possible for her in the first place.

Financial necessities aside, why can’t a woman pursue a career to chase her dreams? She can make good use of her capabilities and still give her child the upbringing that it deserves. Women in the workplace overcome a barrage of legal, social and occupational challenges to make sure that they can earn a living. While it may seem that these statistics are meandering away from Mira’s comments, it is important that we realise just how hostile the workplace can be for women.

Globally, a woman will only make 77 cents for every dollar earned by men. There is more than a 30 percent wage gap in India, one of the worst globally. Sexism in the workplace is toxic enough, but sexual harassment in the workplace is a reality in India as well; women are afraid that cannot even fight this battle because 70 percent women don’t even report workplace harassment to their employers.

Mira could have taken this platform given to her on the occasion of International Women’s Day to speak for the rights of women. Instead, it turns out that she would rather create a divide between working women and homemakers.

Surely Mira and Shahid Kapoor have perpetuated their image of being the front-runners in protecting Indian values, but it comes at the cost of convoluting an issue that’s already become tough to discuss without being called a ‘feminazi’.

Mira could certainly have articulated her argument about homemakers better; because if women played an identical role in labour markets as that of men, over 28 trillion dollars (26 per cent) could be added to the global annual Gross Domestic Product by 2025. Homemakers should genuinely be considered as contributors to a country’s economy, but I don’t think that’s what her words wanted to convey.

At the risk of using a platitude that’s sure to set quite a few people off, I am going to say it. Mira, you need to check your privilege. You cannot continue to be blind to the oppression that women face in all spheres of life. You don’t need to be a homemaker or a working woman to be a part of the horrible statistic that I’m going to talk about.

Crimes against women are reported every two minutes in India, 2.24 million in the last decade. If speaking up against these atrocities causes chaos so be it; this statistic engenders more chaos than any social movement ever could.

This ‘new wave of feminism’ that Mira speaks of has learnt that remaining quiet gets one nowhere. I'm curious; Is it tiring for her and Shahid? Is she hearing too much about feminism, and hearing it too loudly, with its ugly aggression? Good. Then us feminists are doing our job.

And let’s get one thing clear, you know what’s more toxic than our ‘new wave of feminism’? Mira Rajput's good old wave of ignorance. To put it succinctly Mira, don’t talk about feminism.

Updated Date: Mar 12, 2017 14:52:03 IST