The Problem With Theory

Feminism cannot be a moving force if it is not grounded in the lived experiences of its patrons.

I HAVE always been conscious of the inequalities of gender and caste. A series of matriarchal, independent women in my family had been asserting and stretching their roles in society even before I was born. My great grandmother, Neelamma, set aside her caste prejudices to get her younger daughter — my grandmother Lalitha — married to an engineer from another sub-caste. Lalitha Krishnaswami had passed her Senior Cambridge exams, become an honorary magistrate, and worked with leprosy patients in the slums of Madras. I knew her as a tough woman and a genial grandmother. She cleaned public drains and fought for justice with the principal of the Men’s Christian College in her flawless English, draped in a traditional nine-yard sari!


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