In a sea of female celebs who reject the word feminist like the plague, Sonam Kapoor Ahuja is a rarity.
The actress has always identified as a "complete feminist" and as the guest editor for Thrive Global (India), she writes about the #MeToo movement and why everyone should be paying attention.
"That safety net [her family], this spotlight and a stage for my opinion has always encouraged me to have a voice. However, the first time I used it, as a 17-year-old young woman, I was taken aback by the crudeness of the real world. When I called myself a feminist in an interview, I was told that I mustn’t. That it makes me look unfeminine," she wrote.
"Fortunately, it’s now cool to have an opinion and call yourself a feminist. It’s probably why the joy and misery of the past few months is limitless. The #MeToo movement has been as eye-opening and devastating as it has been exhilarating. It has and must continue to galvanise us into action and into a redemption of rights long awaited for the disempowered."
She addresses issues such as consent, the need to believe survivors and reject perpetrators and why we have to hold ourselves accountable; here's what she had to say:
1) Down with sexist jokes
"We tend to laugh at inappropriate jokes out of politeness. It’s not funny, it has never been funny. Roasts, for example, are not funny. It’s not okay to make sexist, homophobic, racist jokes in an environment which is rife with sexism and discrimination," she writes.
See, it's that simple.
2) She urges people to believe survivors
She explains: "Yes, a person is innocent until proven guilty but must it come at the cost of rejecting a survivor’s account? Defenders of the status quo will try their utmost to discredit women's stories and undermine this movement. Misogynists will blame the victims, powerful men will deploy powerful legal teams to intimidate their accusers, and some will use this movement for their own gains with false claims."
"While people must be treated as innocent until proven guilty, we need to remember that women are taking on incredible personal risk and trauma to tell their stories. We owe them, at the least, our trust and support," adds Kapoor.
3) It's not just about education; we need a "total mental reboot"
"Men and women, wealthy and less fortunate, megacities or tier three, educated or not–everyone is complicit in not just tolerating but prolonging and immortalising patriarchy. Awareness, in such a scenario, is not about literacy or going to school. I’ve met some of the richest and most educated people in our country who are unapologetically sexist" she shared.
"What we need is an entire mental reboot. A shift in mindset which acknowledges that sons and daughters should not be treated differently. That you don’t have to give your daughter away. Most likely, she’ll walk the road herself and will, more often than not, turn around to come AND care for you when you’re old."
4) Understand how consent works
She says, "Consent can never be silent. Any person must seek permission before touching another person. If it’s a no, then it’s an unequivocal no. If it’s a maybe, then it’s still a no. Only if it’s a resounding, enthusiastic yes, is it a yes. When a situation involves a boss and a subordinate or a person with more power—literally and metaphorically—than the other, it’s the person with power who has the responsibility to be extra cautious."
5) We must take sides
Kapoor encourages people to "call out all the men and women in our lives who we know have erred" because "we shouldn’t be quiet because we fear hurting someone."
"I believe that people in every industry—not just Bollywood—need to speak up. People in positions like mine should speak up. While I understand that it’s not everyone’s job to preach change, it’s pivotal that you do. Your fame has earned you this platform and you cannot wash your hands off the responsibility that comes with it. If you are silent and don’t take sides then you are, I am afraid, on the side of the person who is wrong. Always take sides," she added..
Read the rest of her enlightening article here.