Duologue with Advita

Advita is a branding consultant who spends her free time drawing illustrating comics for spreading the message of goodwill and equality through her beautiful Instagram page.

What is feminism, according to you?

Feminism to me is being able to live your truth. It is about respecting each individual irrespective of their gender, sexuality, etc. It is about accepting that other people’s choices (clothing, career, love, marriage, others) are not for us to make. 

From a feminist perspective, what are topics you would like to see addressed and how?

I like to address topics that are too subtle. The kinds of situations that people feel are problematic but not too problematic to raise their voice. Examples could be wondering why teachers ask boys to do the lifting work in school or why during meetups all the women are in the kitchen while men are lounging on the sofa. 

Are there any common mistakes you’ve observed from men who want to be supportive of feminism?

They want credit for supporting others! Imagine wanting to be seen as a great person because you don’t molest them. Might as well ask for a trophy because you breathe.

Interviewer notes: This illustrations depicts one of many questions faced by Advita as a feminist. Used with permission. Copyright of Advita Bihani.

Feminists have been good at pointing out male-leaning inequalities that run as deep in our consciousness as our language. Do you think there are any female-leaning inequalities where men are discriminated against?

When we compartmentalize basic emotions, we stop people from expressing fully. Anger is seen as a masculine emotion so a woman showing anger gives her a title of ‘crazy’. Similarly because crying or seeking help is seen as a feminine emotion, men showing it are looked down upon. The inequalities are interconnected. As long as we define a man as someone who doesn’t ‘act like a girl’, we won’t let men flourish fully.

How do you react to these inequalities in your daily life and how do you incorporate those through the content that you share online? 

I am learning and I am yet to see through things. With my content I wish to normalize calling out bullshit with logic and sass. Around me, I hear a lot of ‘girls these days are xyz’ and people dismiss LGBTQ identity. The aim of sharing this content is to make people realize that since an early age their notions of gender have been set by the media. It is easy to learn but tough to unlearn. I want to be a small part of the unlearning process that many of us have to go through.

What do you feel about the influencers and content creators who create a toxic environment for feminism while addressing themselves as feminists?

I understand that what they say comes from a space of suppressed anger. I had been one of those who could not accept women who are ‘weak’ in the conventional sense. The more we learn we realize that to be strong does not mean to be masculine. To be a feminist does not mean to reject marriage or traditional clothing. It simply means to let everyone be who they are. More and more netizens are holding creators accountable for what they say and that will bring positive change.

Interviewer notes: This gorgeous pieces of activism is made by Advita to protest against the idea that beauty does not have brains. Used with permission. Copyright of Advita Bihani.

Since any strong willed woman tends to get the title “feminist,” how do you find yourself embracing this label and its connotations in your faith and daily living?

I love it. People find me problematic. They are warned not to think like me. But I know that what I say is not just for me, I stand up for everyone my peers are interacting with me. People are uncomfortable with women’s opinions, especially if their opinions are not in sync with their cultural beliefs. I am told I have to be patient and that people change and change will come. But I only have 100 years to live. If someone thinks I will wait that long for them to come to their senses, they don’t know me.

Feminists are often described as “angry.” What is the place of anger in advancing or hindering a cause? Can you think of examples, in your own life or in popular culture, where male and female anger is treated differently?

I like being angry. Hear me again. I like anger, not temper. If you look at the way society treats women, what else do you expect but anger. It is not our job to coddle people into accepting common sense. Anger is justified.

But as you rightly mentioned, anger for different genders is treated differently. If a girl gets angry because her family expects her to do every trivial task, she is overreacting. If a girl asks a guy to iron his clothes ten times and he does not do it, the girl is shut saying “you are nagging him”. Men not taking accountability of the household is so okay for people that it surpasses any sane person’s patience.

Parents play an important role in bringing up their kids as a feminist, at what point in your life you believe is the best to substantiate this statement?

My parents used to hold traditional notions of gender. But their best trait is that they don’t try to fight logic. They have created a safe space for me where I can voice out concerns around their notions and are willing to change when offered a logical reason. Healthy relationship with parents is such an underrated thing. The reason I can go out and conquer the world is because the world behind our door is sane and built on mutual respect. I once told my mom how I don’t want the ‘love, marriage, baby carriage’ story for me and she said, “I don’t understand your reason. But I will stand by you. I want you to live life on your own terms.”

Unverbalise is ever the more grateful for this interview from Advita Bihani. We hope to continue to bring in more amazing people to our platform to inspire our readers, so don’t forget to subscribe to our site and share the word around.

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