October 3rd, 2011
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How do I keep up the fighting spirit? It is my Kerala blood

mallika-sarabhai's-proteast

What would be the mode of protest?

We would be using mainly Gandhigiri. In Gujarat we have been using a lot of Gandhigiri. Like the one used in the movie Munna Bhai. It is a concept where we basically shame the person into being different. So if someone is staring at you at the bus stand or some Romeo is troubling you then collect a group of ten to twenty girls and stare at him and give him back in the same coin. Men would get embarrassed if a group of twenty women stare at them from head to foot. So now the tables are turned. It’s the female doing the male gaze. They would get so embarrassed that they would never come back. I keep telling children not to confront them outright.

The other method is to use the public domain. For example so many children complained that the bus drivers never stop the bus for them and literally speed off and run them down. So the suggestion is that let all the students get together write a letter to the bus owners. A copy of this letter should be sent to the media and the police commissioner. Explain the issue to them and invite them to an open forum to resolve the issue. I am sure they would want their services to be accepted and kudos to be given for their services. If they don’t come, we should make the issue public. We need to  use the RTI mentality to bring things out in the open. It is very unlikely for the chairman of a bus company not to relent especially before the public. So it’s about using the press well in such a way that they become actively involved in the solution process.

I also tell everyone to carry pepper spray. KSWDC will make pepper spray available to all girls. The safety of girls is my prime importance. Self-defence is absolutely necessary. If you haven’t learnt self- defence then there is one place to kick. Learn it, practice it and kick.

What are some of the issues that you have come across?girls-protest

The issues faced are most often very similar. Students have complained that they are forced by their parents to study only particular subjects or married off. They are not being allowed to follow their hearts desire. Married or engaged women ask what they can to to break the shackles of suppression. How should they react?

If someone is spreading my SMS what will I do? If someone misbehaves at the bus stop or in the bus what can I do? These are some regular questions raised by most children. Most of them feel like reacting but they neither know the mode of action or reaction.

What is the difference between the teenagers of Kerala and Gujarat?

The teenagers in Kerala are much more repressed and frightened. Women are frightened. The issues are almost the same but Gujarati women are much tougher.

Does Society always accept women who fight?

The society says this people say this!! How does it matter to you? We have to understand that this so called society never comes to help when we are seriously in distress. When you are being abused the so called society that you are scared of never comes to help. Why do you want to be in others good books? You must understand that you must follow your own moral compass.

If you say yes  to being sold off with good “sthreedhanam” to the first person available like a cow your parents are bribing this man into accepting you as a bride. After marriage most probably you will live 40 years being married and never being who you are or who you want to be and never fulfilling your dreams. This is one kind of fate. Or you could be strong enough to say no today and your parents may scream and shout or in a worst case scenario even throw you out of the house. You may be isolated even if there are institutions and organizations that will help you out. You may be isolated for three to four years and have a very bad time. But what is three to four years when compared to 40 years. This is another kind of fate.

We don’t seem to think this through. The devil you know is always considered to be better than the devil you don’t know. But realize that you can never escape from the devil you know. As a quid pro quo do you want to cry for the next 30 years in which case in all probability you will bring up children who will also be ready to cry. It is self perpetuating.

Women’s lives have always been put on the assembly line. Right from the minute they are born, parent’s think about their dowry, the school, whether she will come first, her dance, will she go for engineering or medicine, subject of study, her skin colour, her body. All this thought to finally take the cow to slaughter- i.e: marriage. After marriage her own family believes that she belongs to her husband’s house where as her in- laws will never consider her as their own. Finally the woman has nowhere to go.

womens-liberationThe point is to have the courage to say stop. I want to get off. You need to be able to say at some point that it’s enough I refuse to take anymore. But women don’t think this way. Because we are told girls must accept, sacrifice, and adjust. And a lot of women find excuse in that.

Why do many women who suffer refuse to be liberated?

Being liberated is a difficult state. It’s not easy. Being a slave is much easier. You don’t have to think, you don’t have to take decisions nor do you have to take responsibility for your actions. You can depend upon your master and finally blame your master. Being a slave is not necessarily comfortable but much easier. Being liberated to stand up and take responsibility for every decision and action is much more difficult. But then again I won’t exchange my freedom for anything in this world.

If you are unhappy and yet you put up with marriage or be it anything for that matter, if you compromise on your freedom and happiness then it’s your fault. I am sorry to say this but it’s your fault. Educated women who earn enough money and can live on their own and are unhappy about their marriage, husband or family and crib about it all the time, should have the courage to step out. You cant have it both ways. If your husband beats you and ill treats you should be strong enough to say enough is enough. For this you need to have self respect and confidence.

Someone told me my husband is a very nice husband he allows me to do what I want. I asked her do you allow him to go to office, to meet his friends or to go play a game of golf. No we don’t. No one has to allow us too. We need to change our mentality. There is a button of liberation and non liberation within us. It doesn’t matter even if you have 5 PhD’s or earn five lakh’s per month if this button of liberation is not turned on then there is a voice that keeps saying I am apologetic of being a women. Until that feeling goes there shall be no liberation.

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10 Responses to “ How do I keep up the fighting spirit? It is my Kerala blood ”

  1. jyothi

    Though I am not in consonance with some of Mallikas views. Its a good indepth article written with elan and a great writing style.

  2. kumaraguruparan R

    Women empowerment is the essence of this article. Communal amity is the need of the hour. Mallika’s unrelenting fighting spirit reminds me of Poet; Freedom fighter Subramania Bharati’s visualization of an ideal woman.The role of cultural activists is much more than the laymen’s…Kudos to Mallika.

  3. Sanoob

    Looks good… well compiled article….must say. I guess using “protest” instead of “fight” would have been more appropriate. Regards.

  4. admin

    Thanks Sanoob…. the words are not mine. It is her own words….. and i didn’t feel it appropriate to tamper with that…..

  5. uma

    Dynamic,powerful,brave,smart and talented.I esp liked her views about feminism not being anti men and role of mothers in molding their children and women politicians getting aggressive.Subramanya Bharadhiyars vision of ‘Pudumai Penn’ Iis definitely ‘Mallika Sarabhai’.You
    have put it all together so nicely.Great job!!!!.

  6. admin

    Thank you so much Uma…. hope we will be able to render more articles that shall capture your interest

  7. Anil Angre

    The 2011 Noble Peace Prize has spoken very loudly in recognition of the importance of women’s role in society and the peace process. There are millions more who also fight alone and silently . Your article will no doubt strike a chord with many as did the Noble prize ( though I do not agree with some of Mallika’s views), Well done editor

  8. Harindranath Ravunny

    Mallika Sarabhai is well-known as a dancer, choreographer, publisher, writer, actor, social activist … … . Your interaction with the this celebrity helped her communicate with us boldly and effectively. Thank you Niranjally Varma for your splendid work!

  9. Kalyani

    The questions are well chosen to get Mallika Sarabhai to speak about the aspects of the subject relevant to Kerala.The women of Kerala need to hear these views which were superbly elicited by Niranjali Varma.

  10. lakshman varma

    what this woman talks about Modi is utter non sense; i have heard quite the opposite about him, from very neutral people.

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