Seated on a sofa chair, Bollywood actress and feminist Kalki Koechlin began at the beginning, when “God created man” and then everything went with that word: ‘man’kind, wo’man’, hu’mani’ty… “What chance in hell did we ever have? We were sidelined from basically the Big Bang!” she exclaims.
And then, Kalki goes on to talk about Eve, the Virgin Marys in every religion, the goddesses of beauty and seduction and their objectification, the exclusion of women from the public and political, menstrual shaming and constant staring, the complacency young girls are taught from fairy tales, the constant scrutiny on how much they eat, talk, look, how they sit and walk, the little girls forced into marriage, rape and motherhood, female feoticide, the repressiveness of religion and the complicity of other women in all this repression…
Sounds like a handful and more? This is probably the story of many women you know, who deal with all of this and more on a daily basis AND simultaneously.
Watch this goosebump-inducing video by Vagabomb for more:
Kalki Koechlin is known for making her views on women’s issues and gender inequality unabashedly clear. And on September 12 at the Young FICCI Ladies Organisation in Delhi, the feisty Kalki was back with a theatrical monologue, called ‘Wo-Manologue’ where she spoke about gender politics.
Her performance, an Indian Express report explains, resembles a chat, where the solo performer uses minimal and natural gestures, keeping the dramatic out of her voice as well.
And yet, the perspective Kalki creates through this performance is no less dramatic. In the 17 minutes that she traverses the history of women’s subjugation from the beginning of time to the present where patriarchy judges her every action, her poetry creates something that is as much of a conversation-starter as it is a social media tidbit. “Social media allows us to break the formality of a subject and make it relevant for a youthful person,” Kalki told Dipanita Nath of the Indian Express.
Here are some of the most powerful lines from her Wo-Manlogue:
"Sometimes I just want some oversized t-shirts, some boxer shorts, unkempt hair and a uni-brow, you know? I want armpit hair long enough to plait. I want a clean face without a trace of make-up. I wanna look the way I do when I wake up! I want to scratch my hair, dig my nose, lick my fingers, stretch my legs and spread my toes! I want to smile with my gums showing; bare my teeth, contort my pretty little into wrinkles. Yes, I want my wrinkles to look sexy!"
"I want to be George Clooney basically, but with breasts and a muffin. But no, no… Shhh. Control! Keep it down, stuff it up, bottle it in, switch it off, cross your leg, wear a bra, sit straight and smile sweetly please for the camera!"
"Okay what am I complaining about? What right do I have to complain? I have money, friends and fame. I’m not fifteen and married. I am not a little girl who’s been lied to that she’s a woman. I am not a little girl who’s been told not to question the stranger who shares her bed. I’m not a little girl who’s been raped before she’s been kissed, who’s been made mother before she’s had time to play. I mean, does she even dare to dream? Does she even think to be free? When her husband enters her is it Shah Rukh Khan she tries to see? Does she ever feel sexy? I don’t know."
"What if your religion told you to do whatever you felt like? Spit, scream, gossip, fight, make noise, pollute, marry a child, perform an honour killing, rape, torture, discriminate, keep locked up, keep uneducated, keep under your control. Does God have a say in such a religion? Has God become a politician?"
"Sometimes I just want to breathe. Like when you have a man pounding on top of you incessantly in a daily routine, it’s hard to breathe… When the underwire of your bra is poking into your ribs and it’s too hot to be wearing all this, it’s hard to breathe. When you want to stop being stared at by everyone who always is your watchman, your rickshaw wala, your neighbour’s husband… They’re all watching your chest heave every time you breathe… Sometimes as a woman you feel guilty to just breathe. Well, of course we are going to be hysterical. Of course we’re gonna be screaming! Of course we’re gonna be unreasonable, do you think it’s REASONABLE TO RESTRAIN BREATHING?!"