We all hear about the neo-woman, see her, feel her power, the woman of the 21st century. She is independent, cool, savvy…….
I am proud of this development, particularly in the Indian context.
But is it just that? Nah, I think there is more than what meets the eye!
Let’s rewind our memories back to the '80s.
Stage 1: First murmurs- the early and mid-80s.
i. India is not brand conscious
ii. Difficult to sell a branded product in India.
iii. Customers decide on a product based on utility, not the brand or who endorsed the product.
iv. Family was first. Customer bought products only if they were a necessity.
All the spare cash went into the family savings, for a rainy day.
Stage 2: Grumbles – the late '80s and early '90s
i. Head of the family (invariably a male) controls the family purchases.
ii. He (family head) is not influenced by brands,
iii. The women of the household have no say in family purchases
Stage 3: Faint shouts - the early ‘90s
i. Women are not financially independent. They are forced to depend on their husbands for all their financial needs.
ii. Women prefer branded products over unbranded products
Stage 4: Screaming from the rooftops - the mid and late ‘90s
i. Women are not treated equally with men
ii. Women are ill-treated.
iii. Women should have independence
iv. Women are not represented equally in all areas.
Stage 5: The Crescendo – Early and mid '00s
i. Women should have equal opportunities at work
ii. Women should go out to work and gain financial independence
iii.Women should lead life independently
Let’s come back to the present. Yes, the Indian woman has come a long way.
She is financially independent, has her own car, her own apartment, makes decisions about her life by herself…. No longer the helpless damsel depicted in Bollywood movies who screamed “मुझे बचाऒ“
At the same time, India has witnessed an unprecedented, explosive growth in white goods sales. You find more malls, shopping complexes, departmental stores than hospitals! The sales of branded products is increasing by bounds and leaps.
Imagine the days when all we had was the neighbourhood ಕಾಕ ಅಂಗಡಿ where we used to buy only what we wanted.
Today, we buy products, some of which we do not have the faintest idea about their utility.
And, who form a significant portion this “we”, women!! It may seem crazy, but true. Spend a few minutes at any shopping mall, you can see it yourself.
So, do you still think feminism is all about improving the woman’s lot? It has more to do with market economics and corporate bottomlines!!