Does the worship of goddesses in India have a feminist under-pinning? This is one of the questions I was looking at while researching for my book Sex and Power.
The answer to my question I found, was both ‘Yes’ and ‘No.’ I discovered that there were two main streams of religious thought that had completely different origins and were diametrically opposite in how they viewed women, feminine sexuality and power. One of them, based in the tradition of the Vedas, was extremely patriarchal in its leanings, and even though it had goddesses, like Sarawati for instance, it regarded them as passive, inert manifestations whose sole aim was to nurture and sustain the men.
The other stream of religious thought was that of the Shaktas. These were worshippers of ‘Shakti’ which is the female personification of power as a concept. Below is an excerpt from Sex and Power on the feminist underpinning of the Shakta philosophy.
At the very core of the Shakta philosophy lay the seeds of a feminist rebellion. The Shakta goddesses revolutionized the concept of the feminine in India, turning the [earlier] Vedic male version of it upside down. These goddesses… (more…)
Posted by Rita Banerji on March 6, 2013
Click on this map. Can you spot a single country that has gender equality? Note, how there isn’t even a 50-50 scale !
Not a single country that has gender equality!!
“Why are you a Feminist?” is actually not a question.
It is a defense that some women are now having to make to a majority of women world-wide. A majority which thinks that now that women have the vote (even if not in all countries yet) and can apply to most jobs (even if not all yet), Feminism’s time is out.
So even as I will do my bit by explaining ‘why I am a feminist,’ I also need to state how strange I think it is that I (or for that matter anyone) even needs to explain. It’s weird because (more…)
Posted by Rita Banerji on August 24, 2012
Sometime ago, a friend who has two daughters, one of who dreams of becoming an astronaut, was telling me about how she wants this and that for her daughters, like she would for her sons, and then shuddering, like she was shaking off some insects that had crawled on her, she said, “But I am not a feminist!”
And I replied, “That you certainly aren’t! You fall in the category of a ‘shameless feminist user’.”
If you don’t know yet, there are 4 ways to relate to Feminism. And here they are: (more…)
Posted by Rita Banerji on August 16, 2012
I recently published an article in the Gender Forum Journal, the title of which is “Why Kali Won’t Rage.” Kali (in the poster above) is one of the most powerful Indian goddesses. She is the female prototype of power, who famously battled violent men and refused to submit to their advances passively. In fact she’d defeat these men, kill them and wear their skulls in a victory garland as a sign of her absolute refusal to succumb. Where is Kali today among the Indian women? Below I briefly explain what this article is about. (more…)
Posted by Rita Banerji on July 1, 2012
A feminist friend, who I told about the Afghan women’s Green Scarf movement, said, “I don’t support the veil!” And I suddenly realized that probably she’s not the only one with the wrong idea about what this is all about.
To support this movement all one needs to do is: 1) Put on a green scarf (Doesn’t matter whether you are a man or a woman, or how you want to wear it) 2) Take a picture of yourself wearing it 3) Upload it on this site to show your solidarity with the Afghan women.
And to clarify: it does not ask for people to wear a veil! It says ‘A scarf.’ It just needs to be green. And you can wear it however you want. My green scarf (in the picture to your left) is 6 yards long, (more…)
Posted by Rita Banerji on November 10, 2011