Ever noticed that there is a dosage issue with this thing called feminism?
It’s all great till one point but after that, you become “annoying” and “overbearing”. Suddenly, from being the smart one—the kind that people like to pat your head for being so cute with your smartness—you become the shrill one in the room.
So how much of feminism is healthy?
In the office. In Parliament. In our own living room when we sit next to our fathers, husbands, boyfriend and brothers. Or on the sets of Koffee with Karan…
Recently, I had some of my women friends tell me with concern that Kangana has over done it. She should learn to take it easy sometimes. Why is she making so many enemies? Too much feminism.
You have to think about dosage everywhere. Like in the criticism about white women in the Women’s March for Washington. Can’t imagine all these white women in their knitted pink hats turning up for #blacklivesmatter. Not enough feminism.
Not everyone agrees on dosage, of course. When you see people participating in anti-rape protests holding violent placards calling for death penalty and chemical castration, you may shake your head: not enough feminism. And a whole lot of others will seethe: too much feminism.
I deal with dosage every week at work. In the boardroom, sometimes a client will give me that tired look—I’ve made him tired with my overdose.
I want to give him my patented dose and sometimes I do: ask yourself why most science-based brands have a male voiceover. If your toothpaste has a new state-of-the-art cleaning agent and is shot in a NASA-like lab, who do you think will be cast to tell you all about it? A woman?
But now the client is looking at me. He says, “No, Swati… the woman in the ad can’t wear a sleeveless blouse. Why don’t you make her wear a short kurta with jeans.” Then with his last spurt of energy, he will say: just don’t make the kurta too short.
Some days though, it’s not that there is too much feminism in my life but too many questions about feminism that I have to answer. Sample questions from weekly examiners. Why is the feminist narrative in India so melodramatic and victim-oriented? Why can’t women take the blame for how little they have managed to do for each other? How many women leaders truly remember the needs of the less privileged? Don’t they just kick the ladder from under them as soon as they reach the corner office. Aren’t women their own worst enemies?
Too many questions.
Too many views.
The truth is I sometimes feel as tired as my poor, overdosed client. Mostly I’m happy to hear them all. More happy to hear them than not hear them. Some might be even making a point.
What is a good dose of feminism?
I don’t think too much feminism is a bad thing.
The world needs all kind of them. Black feminism, queer feminism, Dalit feminism, romantic feminism, prosaic feminism, articulate feminism, mumbling feminism, crude feminism, sophisticated feminism, melodramatic feminism and happy, flappy, giggly feminism.
That’s the only way its going to make sense to all of us: to the young girls in buses hoping to not get groped, to the farmer not wanting to get less price for her crops, to the 14-year-old who wants to study spiders and not get married. And the COO who wants to get paid as much as her male colleagues.
Too much of feminism is never really a bad thing. Whether it’s a 30-second commercial. Or life.
Feminism is all about the daily struggle to change our collective and individual hardwiring. That’s a long way off. When we are a whole lot closer, we can ration feminism—not in teaspoons but in drops.
Swati Bhattacharya is the Chief Creative Officer at FCB ULKA.