By Sharanya Gopinathan
Mira Rajput was invited to speak at a Women’s Day event hosted by Mid-Day. She was asked questions about marriage, motherhood and feminism, and some of things she said were a bit much.
Not all of them though. She was right when she said that there is enormous pressure on new mothers with respect to body image and losing weight, and that it’s important for mothers to be fit and healthy, not to lose weight. She was right when she said that different women have the right to make different choices, be they choices on marriage or career or motherhood. And it’s true, there should be no value judgements attached to the decision of staying at home to look after your children, or to the decision of being a working mom.
Which is why I found her choice of words a bit shocking when she went on to talk about her own decision to stay home with her new baby, Misha. She said that since she had a difficult pregnancy, she wants to spend as much time as she can with her daughter, and then said that she doesn’t want to spend an hour with her daughter and rush off to work because her daughter is not a puppy.
I mean, it is definitely true that her daughter is not a puppy. No woman’s daughter is a puppy. But when she says something like this, can you help but think that she imagines that women who do work very busy hours (either by choice or by necessity) think of their own children as puppies? I don’t know about you, but that jarring statement sounded a lot like a value judgement to me.
She goes on to say that feminism is about equality, and not about women being in opposition to men, and that she sees a new wave of feminism that’s very “aggressive” and “destructive”, although she didn’t specify exactly what that means. She’s also says that she’s heard of a new term called “feminazi”.
I’ve heard of that term too, Mira. It’s an idiotic term that compares feminists to Nazis, despite the fact that the two have absolutely nothing to do with each other. It’s a term that is simultaneously grossly offensive to feminists, and also callously dismissive of the horrors of the Holocaust and the evil legacy of Nazism. Terminology and language are important to the way we see ourselves, each other and the world, and encoding a word as bizarre and offensive as “feminazi” into our daily lexicon does damage on multiple fronts.
Basically Mira, all I’m saying is that it wouldn’t be a bad idea to pay attention to the kinds of words you choose to use, because the things you say matter and when you talk, people listen.