Originally written April 5, 2015:
When asked to comment on this video about an Indian woman (representative and yet not able to represent or speak to the millions she speaks for) I had this to say:
1. Why is this in English? Many of the women who need this message and the men who need to hear this do not speak English as well, nor perhaps have access to a computer and the internet. Is the target audience an already privileged middle and upper class?
2. Where is the ‘we’? Individual empowerment of every man and woman is necessary and valuable, but if this is a feminist or womanist or socially conscientious declaration, where is the solidarity and support for other women who may not have been able to stand up and say or even think ‘my choice’ ?
Choices are privileges, most people are not free enough to have real choices, only some options. If one person is free and strong enough, is it her prime duty to release herself, or to also remember to aid those who might be trapped? And no, I do not think the answer is as easy as the rule for putting on your O2 mask first in an airplane; life is not an emergency, it is a long event.
3. Where is the declaration of ‘responsibility’ for the consequences of ‘my choice’? An adult human being, male or female, does not live, earn or relate in a vacuum. A woman cannot exist in isolation. Therefore, whatever choices she makes will have an impact on others. When this impacts innocents or other, less empowered people, it is the ethical duty of the adult human to bear the responsibility for the damage caused to those lives and do her best to lessen the harm or heal the damage. Just as it should be for a man, and just as it is not, and that is why women protest. Nevertheless, I cannot look up to a womanist declaration of rights without responsibilities.
I would remind you of Toni Morrison’s words in _Beloved_: “Freeing yourself was one thing, claiming ownership of that freed self was another.”