My latest book is The One Who Swam With The Fishes.

"A mesmerizing account of the well-known story of Matsyagandha ... and her transformation from fisherman’s daughter to Satyavati, Santanu’s royal consort and the Mother/Progenitor of the Kuru clan." - Hindustan Times

"Themes of fate, morality and power overlay a subtle and essential feminism to make this lyrical book a must-read. If this is Madhavan’s first book in the Girls from the Mahabharata series, there is much to look forward to in the months to come." - Open Magazine

"A gleeful dollop of Blytonian magic ... Reddy Madhavan is also able to tackle some fairly sensitive subjects such as identity, the love of and karmic ties with parents, adoption, the first sexual encounter, loneliness, and my favourite, feminist rage." - Scroll

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28 February 2015

Feminism ranty rant rant

I am tired.

I’m tired of having to listen to people say, “I’m not a feminist, I believe in equal rights for all humans!” or “I’m not a feminist, but…” It’s not a bad word. You can use it to mean yourself. It doesn’t make you a man-hater or someone who is mannish. You can be a feminist and feminine. You can be a feminist if you believe women are the same as men, except built differently.

I’m tired of having to listen to people toss around “feminazi.” It’s deeply insulting. The “feminazi” does not exist. There is no militant feminist with a gun coming for your testicles. There may be variations in how people express their opinion—from the mild to the radical—but none of these people deserve to be called “Nazis” for standing up for a downtrodden bit of society.

I’m tired that the answer to a woman being raped in a cab of a cab company was to ban the cab company. I’m tired of having to be awake, alive, alert all the time. Sometimes, I just want to take my shoes off, lean into soft cushions and close my eyes for like fifteen minutes. Sometimes, I’d like to take off my sweater or my jacket, revealing the t-shirt underneath and feel cool breeze on my skin for two minutes, without having to think about all the people staring at me.

Sometimes, I’d like to hold the hand of the person I love as I walk through a busy street. Sometimes, I’d like to scream, “F$*k you!” to the driver who cuts me off on a deserted Delhi road without worrying that he will stop his car and take out a gun and shoot me in the head twice. Point blank.

I’m tired of standing in the crook of my front door, half body in, head sticking out to talk to courier men and service people. I don’t want to have to do this, I’m also tired of having to put on pants over my sleeping shorts after I get out of bed to answer the door, look somewhere else, it’s my house, I can be bare-legged if I like.

I’m tired of apps built with the best of intentions: add two emergency contacts! Let people know where you are and if you need to be rescued! I download them but I’m tired of a world where I need to be rescued. I would like to operate alone. I would like to not stick my car keys outside the ball of my fist to strike attackers with in an empty parking lot, I would like to not think about all the safety tips I’ve read when I’m alone at home, I’d like to sleep in a hotel room without mapping out the exits and checking to see if the door is double locked, I’d like to be in a hotel room and order breakfast from bed and say, “It’s open!” when the man knocks at the door.

If I say I’m tired of Delhi, the next moment I see a story about Agra, or Goa, or Mumbai or New York, even. I’m tired of this worldwide epidemic of hatred towards women, I’m tired of living on a globe where women are consistently treated as less than, to be hunted for sport, to be thought of in their own little slots. I’m tired of living on a globe where anyone is less than, I know that sounds na├»ve, but here we are, facing 2015, and there’s still all these fixable problems! Racism! Sexism! Rape! They don’t need technological advancements, they just need people to get their heads out of the eighteenth century and into the twenty first.

I am tired of responses made by men: “don’t be emotional.” “Not all men.” “Are you on your period?” I’m tired that these paint the other men with the pale watercolours of misogyny, even though the paint is so faded it peels right off when a man does something as simple and essential as take care of his own infant child. “Such a good father!” they—you—say, and then you ignore the baby’s mother who cradles and rubs and feeds and wakes up at two in the morning and worries and worries and worries, you ignore all that for a walk in the park, a man taking pleasure in his own child.

I am tired. I don’t know if it’ll get better. I know it will get worse. 

(A version of this appeared in around the time of the Uber driver rape case but I think it's still relevant.)


  1. Great post. Thanks.
    - Tired too.

  2. Thank you for this. It came to this post for me to de-lurk and comment. keep writing.

  3. Great post! What you say makes perfect sense and you have put it out there with very valid examples. Reminded me of my old blog post too:

  4. Absolutely agree with every word you say. Tired too. Don't know when this exhaustion will come to an end.

  5. I will feel like showing this to every man I know! The are you on your period line was thrown on to me like 2 days ago!!!

  6. Great post. Probably the most frustrating part is that there is nothing much we can do to make our lives better...All I plan to do is to inculcate my kids ( have a son and a daughter) to respect/value women. I believe that mothers play a huge role in this regard and I plan to do my job correctly.

    You are also correct about the father who looks after his infant for a few minutes. Their small tasks are so glorified which is totally unfair against the mother.

  7. Well said! Sadly, no matter how much we protect our lives and those of our dear ones, until the objectification of women stops being the cultural norm, we will always have to keep looking over our shoulders.

  8. Today is International Women's Day. TV is playing Agent Carter, Amelia Earhart and the whole India's Daughter ban since morning. I had to read this to recall problems I had forgotten. You write like you walked a mile in my shoes. Very few people make it real. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Being a woman means taking pride in what you are capable of. I don't know what feminists are up to. To be honest, I don't care what feminism is anymore. Like religion and terrorists, I guess its another 'ism'

  9. Watercolour does not peel off...


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