When you treat women as a separate entity, perceive their achievements and failures on the basis of gender, you already defeat the idea of your letter.

Dear Mr Bachchan theres more to women than just their gender An open letterTwitter/Amitabh Bachchan
Blog Gender Sunday, September 11, 2016 - 13:55
Written by  Punarvasu

Dear Mr Bachchan,

I am sorry for such a delayed response to your much-talked about letter to your granddaughters and ‘every granddaughter’. But that’s alright, because I didn’t anyway intend to watch your movie “Pink” in a theatre. So I don’t think you would want to waste your ‘heart-warming ‘letter on me.

But like 64 crore Indian women, I too am a granddaughter. And, more importantly, a woman. A woman who is least flattered by this supposedly concerned-yet-progressive letter you’ve written. In fact, if anything, I’m a bit appalled.

I’m appalled because I find a man who is hailed as an intellectual like yourself actually indulging in the same patriarchal, condescending talk that you’re warning your granddaughters of, albeit in a very veiled manner.

Now, what you want to tell your granddaughters, Navya Naveli Nanda and Aradhya Bachchan, is really only your business and theirs. But since you’ve said this is to all granddaughters and have willingly put it in the public sphere, let’s all hop on. And if it was just a grandfather giving advice to his granddaughters, I think you’ve done a fairly good job. But since you seem to be depicting yourself as a feminist, we will have to be a little more disparaging of you.

Without sounding too condescending, I want to point out a few qualms that I had with your letter. You start off by saying that the two young girls carry a very valuable legacy on their shoulders – that of their paternal grandfathers. You are reinforcing the cringe-worthy abhorrent notion that a daughter, once married, ‘belongs’ to her in laws. Why isn’t Navya Naveli carrying the legacy of your family? Is your daughter less of a child of yours than her brother?

The only legacy I would, as a woman, want to carry is one that I earn. And my surname does not define me nor determine what I do with my life. Even as you are attempting to tell women here that they shouldn’t be bogged down by societal expectations, you are afflicting us with yet another burden.

You say it's a very very difficult time to be a woman. No Mr Bachchan. It's better than ever before. Look, for instance, at Hillary Clinton speaking about how difficult it was for her, as a woman, to be in Harvard Law School. But today, she is running for the most powerful chair in the world.

And you say if we manage to set our own boundaries and rise above people's judgement, we'll be setting examples for women everywhere. Mr Bachchan, I'm a tad more ambitious than that. If I'm setting examples anyway, then I would rather do so for both men and women everywhere, and on the basis of what I've accomplished, not because I've done so as a woman. Please again stop limiting 'us' to setting examples for each other, we've grown beyond that.

My letter to you stems from the belief that when you treat us women as a separate entity, perceive our achievements, failures and everything else on the basis of our gender, you are already defeating the very idea of your letter. As a man who has gone beyond being an actor, a legend and an icon, I would have thought you would understand this.

Note: The views expressed here are the personal opinions of the author.

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