My second attempt at reading Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal has been a success! I started it before (the audiobook version) and I didn’t pay attention because I couldn’t stick with the narrator’s voice (a very important characteristic for an audiobook). I decided to give it another chance and I loved it (and not just because of the blush-worthy content)!
As I was reading/listening to this book, I kept thinking about feminism and how people have this narrow focus on certain kind of women acting a certain kind of way. There’s this image of a “liberated woman” that is molded in the American image.
This liberated woman looks like a white cis-gender woman with colorful hair, armpit and leg hair, who wears androgynous clothing and no bra. This woman screams “F the patriarchy!!” and reads The Feminine Mystique and has sex with whoever she wants whenever she wants and has a bumper sticker or coffee mug that proudly displays to the world that she’s a “nasty woman”. She actively frees herself of society’s oppressive standards.
There’s nothing wrong with this woman; she is living her truth. However, her truth is not the only one.
What about the women who don’t look like her? The women who don’t scream to the world they are a feminist? What about the women who wear make-up, a hijab, spanx? What about trans women without a vagina, or men who want to be allies? Does this automatically discount these people who also want women and all genders to live their truth?
My bud, Balli, did a great job contrasting stereotypical and non-traditional feminists. She talks about the dangers of women in this British-Punjabi community speaking out (one of them is killed). She talks about how these seemingly traditional women just would like an outlet to share their desires, because they are women and they do have desires, despite how they are perceived in the world.
At the end of the day, the novel was about women and their choices. Some women were never given many choices, some women made sure their daughters had choices, other women may have taken their ability to choose for granted. All of these women were just trying to do the best with the choices they have been given, and in this world, no matter if you are a feminist stereotype or if you have to work more restrictive within the confines of patriarchy, you don’t get a lot of choices.
(A quick aside, these stories were also all about consent and the women had autonomy to choose how they wanted to express their erotic energy and what happened to their bodies, which I completely approve)
So, if feminism is all about having the ability to make choices, woman should be able to choose to be whatever the freak (pun intended) they want (as long as they’re not harming other people, that’s my only rule). Wear clothes that cover you from head to toe or cover yourself from head to toe in tattoos. Who am I to tell you who you should be? It’s hard enough being a woman.
What kind of feminist are you? Let me know in the comments (as long as you’re not a Mayo Feminist…)!