To The Women Of India: Rise Today

empowering women of india
Photo by Flavia Jacquier

A woman beaten to death by her own family because she refused to quit school, get married, and stop wearing jeans.

Two women brutally beaten by family because they spoke on a mobile phone in the street to male cousins.

A woman forced to walk with a teenager on her shoulders for 3 km and beaten and shamed by in-laws for leaving her husband.

A teenage woman dragged by her hair, tied to a tree, and beaten brutally by her family for running away from her husband.

A woman gang-raped because she was walking home in the evening with her boyfriend.

I could go on. The list of monstrous crimes against women in India is endless.

A woman should know her place, they say.

A woman should not bring shame on the family, they say.

A woman should do what she is told, they say.

No.

You are here to unshackle yourself from these chains that have bound us all too long and stand tall and sovereign and free.

You are first, you are more than, you are powerful beyond words.

This is why they chain you.

Women across India are forced to isolate themselves while on their periods.

Don’t go to school, don’t go to work, and don’t enter our kitchens or our temples, they say.

You are dirty, women are sinful, your blood and body are cursed, they say.

No.

Your blood is powerful.

Your body is magnificent and holds a universe within.

And they are afraid that you’ll awaken to this truth.

Women are deterred from going to school and married off as soon as possible in exchange for money, status, or security for their families. Forced into a life they never willingly chose or wanted.

You don’t need education like your brothers.

Good women get married.

When will you have children?

This is the best thing for you, they say.

No.

Education is your birthright. Education is power. Marriage, on the other hand, is a patriarchal-made trap to steal your rights away. There is no security to be found in a relationship that is not equal.

And your body cannot be reduced to a reproductive machine. You are here for more than giving birth and putting dinner on the table, worlds more.

Did you know that a woman’s body is the only living being on the planet made to experience pleasure for pleasure’s sake?

Not men. Not animals. Only women. Our bodies were made to ebb and flow in tidal waves of pleasure for our own bliss.

You didn’t know because they didn’t tell you. And they don’t want you to find out.

The night is not safe for the women of India. Darkness descends, and the vilest creatures crawl out from under their rocks.

Women must stay inside, they say.

What was she doing out at that time anyway, they wonder.

It is not safe, they say.

No.

The point is missed, once again. And the night used to be ours.

The darkness was our time to bathe under the moon and kiss the stars and run with the wolves.

It is time to reclaim the night.

Tourists like me are now greeted with “guidelines” at the airport advising women to not wear skirts while in India. Because they believe skirts are the problem. Silly me. That’s why you have a nation of abusers and rapists: skirts.

You can’t wear that, they say.

Cover your body up, they say.

You’re asking to be raped, they say.

Westerners don’t understand our culture, they say.

Oh yes, we do.

We understand that you perpetuate a culture of rape that is oppressive and degrading to women.

We understand your culture is built on a foundation of poisonous Patriarchy, which you continue to uphold in your words, and your actions. We understand that you think the answer to everything is to control women, but the real reason you try to control us is because you fear us.

You abuse, beat, and rape, because you believe this is what power looks like. This is the only way you know how to control what is beyond your grasp. The only way Patriarchy has a splinter of a chance of survival in your society.

But even so, try as you may; your walls are crumbling, and you know it. You can feel it. Your time is up.

To the men of India: fuck you.

We will not close our mouths or our legs when you say so.

We will not stay gagged in or shackled to a life that you see fit for us.

We will not bring our daughters into a world where they are deemed less than before breathing their first breath.

It is not women who should know better; it is you.

To the women of India: do not let them control you, change you, tame you. When enough women rise, they will be outnumbered.

She is rising, and she calls you to walk with her.

Wear skirts. Demand an education. Celebrate your period. Bleed in temples. Masturbate and love every minute of it. Have sex for pure pleasure, and don’t feel guilty about embracing your sexuality. Trust your intuition. Call people out on sexist remarks. March to end rape culture. Don’t get married (it’s a trap). And if you do get married and realize he doesn’t make you happier, leave his sorry ass and don’t look back. Don’t have kids unless you actually want them. If you do have kids, teach your sons to respect women, and teach your daughters to be fiercely independent and wildly untamed.

And keep telling the misogynists of India to fuck off.

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