A few good men: Indian men who share our outrage and have embraced the feminist tagBinjal Shah
While we are on the subject of gender stereotypes – the average Indian man is seen to be the sum of his misogyny, aggression and domineering nature. This notion, sadly, has a little more merit to it than the other mindless stereotypes we come across. However, the following five men rip this judgement apart, and pulled me out of the jaws of despair, as partners in service and brothers in arms. Here are some of the most prominent figures in the Indian glitterati who have been using their superstardom to inspire millions of admirers into following suite and embracing the tag of feminism:
“I was feeling anger and frustration just hearing, reading what was happening (to women) on a daily basis in different parts of our country,” he had said in a 2014 interview. And the anger was channelised in the form of NGO MARD,which attempts to do everything at the grass-root level to drive home the message that women need to be respected and treated like equals. Passion reverberates through Farhan’s interviews, as he expresses a sense of exhaustion at the never-budging Indian chauvinistic mentality.Through MARD, he wishes to personally engage with the youth at schools and colleges to appeal to them to review their write-offs. His persistence also got him noticed by the United Nations, and he was handpicked to serve as UN Women Goodwill Ambassador for Southeast Asia in 2014.
Rahul Bose: Actor, activist.
Rahul Bose, possibly the face of Indian arthouse and parallel cinema, has developed an army of fans who swear by him in equal parts for the roles he chooses to play on screen, and the battles he has chosen offit. Through the choice of his films, like Chameli for example that humanised the chimerical Indian sexworker, as well as his pledges to social causes, he is known to be a pragmatic and progressive thinker. His NGO, The Foundation, backs causes across a wide spectrum of marginalised groups, for the umbrella cause of equality. He also contributed to an audio book Terres Des Homes: Gudgudi karna, gale lagana; Sparsh ke niyam sikhiye (Tickle and hugs: Learning the rules of touching), which is designed to equip children against sexual abuse. He has also delivered lectures on gender equality at Oxford.
The man needs no introduction. The author is a revolutionary in his own right, and in another act that is considered to be, exasperatingly, revolutionary in our time – he called himself the F-word. “Yes. What else is there to be? You are either a feminist, or an asshole. These are your choices. I have three sisters, and no brothers. In my family it is all women, and they are very strong, opinionated, professional women, and the idea that they would be in some way disadvantaged by comparison to men was just ludicrous, and if you had tried to suggest it to them you’d have got hit. So I learned it early,” he had said in an interview.
Ashwin Mushran: Actor, comedian, feminist
He’s one of those actors we have adored for his comic timing, but it turns out, his gen(d)eral timing whilst speaking up for feminism is just as impeccable. Candidly, he described to me in a brief exchange his views on the subject- “Feminism to me is simply standing up for the rights and equality of women, not just India but across the world. I don’t differentiate between men and women. What matters to me is how you are as a person, and if that terms me as a feminist, then I guess, I am one. The whole issue of ‘Indian Culture’ irks me. It is a phrase used to harass and subjugate women across the country. A convenient way to keep empowerment away from millions of women.” Hark!
Indian cricketers Virat Kohli, Ravi Shastri, Suresh Raina and Ambati Raydu
Apart from protecting the boundary on field, Indian cricketers Virat Kohli, Ravi Shastri, Suresh Raina and Ambati Raydu recently pledged to establish some boundaries in society, with the ‘Respect to Protect’ campaign, which calls for the protection and respect of all women. The video is an initiative of Hyderabad-based women’s rights NGO My Choices.
The video features the sportsmen’s point of view on how to protect women, by getting to the root of the problem, rather than offering remedial solutions. From right to equal opportunity irrespective of her choices in personal appearance and profession, to respecting her economic, sexual, physical and social rights, the campaign highlights a community of support towards women’s rights and gender equality.
This acknowledgement, empathy and resulting full-fledged support from some members of that half of the population that used to be the perpetrator of the issue has been the healthiest indicator of progress in the women’s movement in a while.