Face to Face with Feminist Activist Ushasi Daripa
Ushasi Daripa, a student of Earth Sciences at Pondicherry University, is a feminist-activist who has been the foremost face in her university when it comes to dissent and protest. We at Eye Art Collective are glad to have engaged in a conversation with her.
Firstly, tell us what is Feminism to you?
UD: Feminism to me is a concept, where men and women are socially, politically, and economically equal. There is no such thing as a ‘boys’ thing’ or a ‘girls’ thing. Feminism is a humanitarian concept where everyone is equal, and every person should therefore be a feminist.
How do you politically express and participate in your surroundings as a feminist?
UD: You find sexist comments everywhere around you. A few days back in my lab when a guy came as an intern, his family had come to drop him off and someone made a remark which went like, “this boy is as afraid as a girl.” I was so angry. Are only girls afraid on this planet? Aren’t you afraid of anything ever in your life? The Y Chromosome has nothing to do with being scared! And this is the best example of how Patriarchy affects not just women but also men. I try my best to indulge in conversations, but probably I become too aggressive at times and that way I lose out on the person on the other side. But then, I as a feminist, have to be aggressive. My father is very sexist too, and I am giving up on people who are beyond repair.
Can you cite some incidents where you have exercised your feminist politics?
UD: There is a 10 PM curfew in our hostel and when I spoke up against it, the warden told me that it is for the safety of the girls and that she has taken many girls for abortion. I don’t understand why consenting adults who fail to take precautions should be the cause of everyone getting locked in, and moreover, someone can still indulge in something before 10 PM! Also, here in Varanasi, I was asked to give an application before leaving and my dad also had to call up the hostel to let them know that their daughter was coming home. I almost laughed on the face of the person!
What do you think is the current situation of feminism in India?
UD: It is terrible. People think of feminists as angry women trying to bash up men, and I even found facebook pages like ‘Masculinity’ and ‘Meninists’. I have reported them multiple times and finally they are off Facebook, and that is a win for me.
Any message for the readers of Eye Art Collective?
UD: I guess the readers are already Feminists themselves, so there is nothing to be said there, but all I can say is that you should never give up on your feminist politics. It is only by sticking throughout that you can make the situation better.