Freida Pinto's Feminist Speech Is Empowering

by Kaitlin Reilly

Violence against women continues to plague our world, and the horrific stories of these particular crimes are devastating to hear. But that doesn't mean the issue shouldn't be met with silence — quite the opposite, in fact, something that actress Freida Pinto knows well. Freida Pinto just delivered an incredibly important speech at the premiere of India's Daughter, the documentary about the 2012 gang rape of 23-year-old woman Jyoti Singh in South Delhi, India. Pinto's speech discussed not only a culture of misogyny in India, where the crime was committed, but throughout the globe over the course of history and today in modern times.

Pinto's speech is both important and progressive — she calls out members of our society for not supporting women's issues and for taking too much pride in our progress when one gender is consistently devalued. Here are some of the most important quotes from Pinto's speech:

"[I]n 2015 despite the vast improvements in the lives and rights of women across the world in the last century, there still seems to exist this very complex network of ideological and cultural norms that still plague our society and that make global misogyny, in my opinion, a great scourge and most pressing issue of our age ... But really our pride is misplaced when there is one gender on this planet that is yet to be emancipated."

So many people claim the feminism isn't necessary, and that because women hold positions of power it means that we have universally acquired gender equality. That's simply not the case — not globally, and not in developed countries like the United States. The Delhi gang rape and the subsequent misogynistic comments made by one of the men who committed the crime is proof that we have a long way to go.

"I cannot wait for that day when this generation of women and men finally realizes that claiming to be a feminist is simply asserting that you share the same spiritual and economic value as your male counterparts - as each other."

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Everyone deserves the same value, no matter what gender they identify with.

"The shame is not in admitting the existence of such violence, the shame is in the crime and not speaking out. In this way, if not us, at least our grandchildren will grow up in a world that's free of gender discrimination."

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Claiming that gender violence isn't a problem or downplaying the significance of these heinous crimes doesn't make them go away. There is no shame in seeing that there is a problem and speaking out about finding a solution — it's the only way anyone can make strides towards equality.

"I call upon women to raise each other up, to make each other’s welfare a priority and to never shame a woman for the choices she makes."

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One of the most alarming things about the Delhi gang rape is that while there were plenty of protesters who were outraged by the crime, many people believed that the woman got what she "deserved" simply because she chose to see a movie with a male friend. Judging women for their actions and devaluing them because of it isn't something that happens in India alone. We often hear about victims of sexual assault being blamed for the crime committed against them, whether outright or subtly with questions like, "What were you wearing?" or "Were you flirting with him?" We need to do better, and it's not just men who need to stop shaming women, but other women who are victims of the society where this is acceptable behavior.

The 2012 case is a horrifying example of just how much we need feminism and advocates to speak up against gender violence. Pinto's comments and the documentary of which she spoke about can help push this issue into the forefront. No matter how far women have come, our global society has a long way to go until we can truly claim equality.

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