Sometime last year, model and actor Lisa Haydon broke millions of feminist hearts when she denounced feminism as a lot of unnecessary noise-mongering. “I don’t like the word feminist. I don’t think women trying to be men is feminism. I also don’t believe in being outspoken for the sake of it, or just to prove a point. Feminism is just an overused term and people make too much noise about it for no reason. Women have been given these bodies to produce children, and the spirit and tenderness to take care of people around us. It’s fine to be an outspoken and working woman. I don’t want to be a man. One day I look forward to making dinner for my husband and children. I don’t want to be a career feminist,” she had told The Times Of India in an interview.
However, a year down, she seems to have familiarised herself with what feminism stands for and has come close to expressing regret for her earlier comment.
While feminists are used to eye-rolling at erroneous assumptions about feminism, Haydon’s comment hurt a little more than usual. Haydon, apart from being a sought after model for years, also played the role of Vijayalakshmi in Vikas Bahl’s ‘Queen’. Vijayalakshmi’s character was that of a free-spirited, self-made young woman, unapologetic about her sexuality. Many men and women — who considered Queen the Bollywood bible of feminism — also imagined Haydon to be a fierce feminist like the character she played. And then, she said what she said.
Most feminists were especially miffed at Haydon suggesting that the primary role of women is to become a mother and their bodies were meant exactly for that. Such a comment completely eviscerates one of feminism’s biggest fight — to normalise the idea that motherhood is a choice, not a woman’s duty.
Haydon, who is married to London-based business-magnate Dino Lalvani is pregnant.Elle India shot a gorgeous cover with Haydon on it. In the accompanying interview, Haydon looks back at the controversy and comes close to admitting that she had misunderstood, and as a result, misconstrued what feminism stands for in the comment.
Saying that she doesn’t stand by her earlier comment, Haydon says, “I had never given feminism much thought. I guess it was a lack of education because now I surely know what a feminist is. I was coming from a different place: I was working so much at one point that I knew that if I didn’t actually stop and think about having children, I wouldn’t have any. I had also just lost my mum. That was where I was in my head, but it all came out so wrong.”
She added that she didn’t venture on social media to issue a clarification back then because it felt ‘too dangerous’. “If people look at my life, instead of one stupid comment I made, they will know the truth,” she tells Elle.
Days after the Times of India, interview was published, Haydon had responded to the outrage with an Instagram post. In that post, she made a bunch of other generalisations where she suggested that in trying to become a feminist, one should also remain feminine. And that motherhood was a woman’s greatest role ever. However, she deleted the post soon after.
Later she echoed sentiments most feminists share about being stereotyped and discriminated against at work. “‘Lisa settled down, they’ll say’. What a labelling, binding term. We no longer live in a world where you need to choose one or the other. I am not going to allow myself to be pushed to choose.”