#InHerWords:: Women’s Day Special: Shakti by Karuna Parikh

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Shakti

by Karuna Parikh

Growing up a tomboy (shaved head, men’s shirts, y works), it took me a long time to realise the strength of female friendships because I spent most of my time playing with the boys. As a girl who was told from the day I was born – “you can do anything any boy can, and more” – I saw women as feeble. Their softness didn’t interest me.

I did not understand back then at the age of 15, that even my disdain for women who were less spirited than myself, was my privilege as a girl who’d been granted that freedom as unquestionable. I didn’t understand that when my mother took me walking in the woods behind my house to cast spells on full moon nights, she was not encouraging me to “be more manly” but helping me channel my wild female energy.
That’s because I saw the very idea of freedom as masculine.

I saw being physical – playing basketball, spitting, sex – or being vocal and unconcerned with my looks as masculine too. I could not see then how I had equated simply being strong and free, confident, articulate, in touch with my body and unapologetic about myself, with being male. So with this mistake in place, my rebellious, rock ‘n’ rollin’ teenage self-surrounded herself with boys, and apart from three very cool equally emancipated girlfriends, kept these gendered friends circle active for the longest time.

Let’s cut to college and being placed in a house with five female housemates I didn’t choose. I was faced with Kerry, a Welsh girl with a sailor’s mouth, J Lo’s ass, and ambition to be Prime Minister some day. I met Ageliki – a tiny, Gothic, Greek, Jodie Foster lookalike who carried a knife in her boots and was studying archeological conservation. I met Dany, the Brazilian girl who coolly dated a 42-year-old, kept a pet owl in her dorm room, outdrank everyone on the course and also got the highest grades at the end of it. I was suddenly surrounded by women. Impressive women who were overwhelming and inspiring.

I met a woman who went in for an abortion and coolly exited asking for a whiskey. I also met a woman who wept at having to do the same, but I saw the poetry in both their methods…in both their madnesses. I learnt slowly how to be safe and not view it as weak. How to be strong and see it as feminine. I learnt that no strength in all the worlds rivals “Shakti”.

I know now at 31 that I can shave my head and wear track pants every day and still be feminine. I can punch a man and even then be feminine. I can wear red dresses with pink nail polish and be unafraid that it will diminish my worth as a woman or simply as a human being. That I have the right not to be judged by the length or colour of my nails or dress. That I can have long hair and not feel bound by it. I can have a baby or be barren. I can have tattoos, as many as I want. I can sleep with one man or ten, and neither should be a barometer for my femininity. In fact, I could sleep with women, and that could be womanly too.

Because all of the above are things, women are and do.

I am a woman, and I am all woman. So what does that mean?

It means I am a strand of Shakti. It means that I owe it to the feminine energy of the universe to develop that part of me and to let it shine. It means I can harness that energy and turn it into real, good, action. Like encouraging more women to channel that strength that allows them the freedom to be women in whatever form they wish. Or like reaching out to more men to get in touch with that part of them that respects feminine energy. Their own, as well as of the women around them. Because both yin and yang exist in each on of us, whether we are male or female.

I love women. (I love men too, but we’ll save that for another day.) The only sort of woman I don’t like is one who puts down another woman simply for being another woman. The sort of woman I used to be.

On this day then, remember to stand by each other and stand up for each other. The worst sort of sexism is self-hatred. It is the greatest disservice you can do to feminism. It’s time we balance the world. Here’s what one helluva woman, writer Isabel Allende has to say about it:

I think that the time is ripe to make fundamental changes in our civilization. But for real change, we need feminine energy in the management of the world. We need a critical number of women in positions of power, and we need to nurture the feminine energy in men. (I’m talking about men with young minds, of course. Old guys are hopeless; we have to wait for them to die off.) I want to make this world good. Not better, but to make it good. Why not? It is possible. Look around – all this knowledge, energy, talent and technology. Let’s get off our fannies, roll up our sleeves and get to work, passionately, in creating an almost perfect world.

Bring on the Shakti. Happy International Women’s Day, my comrades.

This piece was written by Karuna Ezara Parikh. 

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Karuna is a television anchor, model, writer, and the sexiest beast we know. You’ve seen her on NDTV’s Life is a Beach; read her poetry on The Post-It Poetry Project; and (if you don’t already) can stalk her on Instagram.

Karuna’s pictures for this post were shot by Tushaar Mehra. You can follow his work on Instagram.

Karuna Parikh
Written by

Karuna is a television anchor, model, writer, and the sexiest beast we know. You’ve seen her on NDTV’s Life is a Beach; read her poetry on The Post-It Poetry Project; and (if you don’t already) can stalk her on Instagram.

Karuna’s pictures for this post were shot by Tushaar Mehra. You can follow his work on Instagram.

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