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How My Trip to India Changed My View of Feminism

In today’s society, many individuals, male and female, find it difficult to admit they are feminists, primarily due to the common misconception that feminists are anti-male and want women to dominate the world. However, feminism is the political, economic and social equality of the sexes.

Recently, my view on feminism has changed because of the trip I took to India this summer to visit my extended family. My mother and father come from a rural part of Southern India where both of their family’s farm land and raise cattle for a living.

I have the fondest memories of helping my grandmother milk the cow and my grandfather plow the fields on a tractor. However, for the first time, the normal way of life there was starting to bother me, mainly because of the drastic social and economic distinction between men and women in India compared to the United States.

For example, a majority of women in the rural part of India depend heavily on their husbands economically. Many of these women do not hold a job, and thus rely on their husband’s income. Furthermore, when it comes to making financial decisions, many rural women either lack the intuition or empowerment to do so.

Another example of an everyday task that caught my attention was the lack of social equality. It is common in a traditional Indian gathering that women sit separately from the men. However, this idea is taken to the extreme in the rural part of India. During the four weeks that I was there, it was typical to see women cooking in the kitchen when men came inside the house, not because they were shy, but because it was “out of respect.”

Now, I know what you might be thinking: the women in the modern era are not like those of the past generations. I couldn’t agree more. If you were to compare the political, economic and social statuses of women in the U.S. now versus 100 years ago, there have been several positive changes to say the least, such as obtaining the rights to vote, open a bank account and divorce.

After traveling to India, my definition of feminism has changed. I was not completely aware of the lack of political, economic and social equality in developed countries as well. I started noticing one aspect of feminism that is often overlooked — the global aspect. I am thankful every day to have the privilege of living in a society that, for the most part, treats women with respect and dignity. I’m not saying the world is perfect because there will always be people who condescendingly look at women for no apparent reason at all.

After going to India, I extended my definition of feminism. It is NOT only about treating women equally as men, which is much appreciated to say the least, but also about treating women with respect because of their accomplishments and stride to make society a better place for everyone.

I am a second year Business Major at Cal Poly SLO! When I'm not procrastinating about midterms or homework, I love watching the Ellen Show, watching Tasty videos on Youtube and hanging out with friends.
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