It took over two decades for the leading ladies of Hollywood to speak against the media mogul who harassed them by the virtue of the power he holds in the film industry. The #metoo campaign really brought many voices of women who suffered such harassment. Interestingly, the “metoo” campaign was initiated by the African American women to bring out the suffering of the black women over a decade back.
Raya Sarkar threw a pebble in the vast ocean with posting a facebook post naming academians (mostly upper castes) harassing students and it set mighty waves in motion which not only disrupted the legitimacy of the so-called “upper caste” feminists but also unleashed the mightier force of women inbuilt in the Ambedkarite movement. It started the #NameThemShameThem movement on social media.
The women from the Dalit community have been always in the forefront to lead the larger movement. Mukta Salve, a young Matang girl, wrote a scathing pamphlet on the plights of the untouchables in Pune. The great Bahujan fighter, Savitribai Phule, led the movement of liberation not with just her intellect but also through her poetic creativity and died in the service of plague-affected people in Pune.
Then there is Ramabai who challenged all the odds to courageously bring out women from their homes to fight for their rights. Meenamma from Tamil Nadu, Sulochana Dongre from Nagpur, Shantabai Dani, and the list can be extended to the modern times when we see a galaxy of the women leaders taking lead in not only fighting the gender-based discrimination but also the caste-based discrimination.
The upper caste feminists, barring a few greats like Sharmila Rege and Uma Chakrawati, have always tried to loud the Hindu scriptures and Hindu tradition and they tried to situation their “feminism” in the traditional garbs, the only challenge to this flawed thinking came from more egalitarian and human women leaders from the Dalits and oppressed backgrounds.
In this time of great reflection within the larger Ambedkarite movement and its role in attacking all forms of oppression, the important and leading voice has been of the women and politically it got crystallized in the persona of Mayavati and in other fields with personalities like Tina Dabi, and a host other great achievers. The resistance coming from the “upper caste” feminism to Raya Sarkar is the symptom of the larger disease of the caste system.
Author – Mangesh Dahiwale
Feature Image – Buzzfeed