Originally posted on Candles Online celebrating International Women’s Day
“Don’t climb the trees, you will break your bones and no one will marry you. Being pretty is very important.
Learn to cook, otherwise you will bring shame to the family. Your degrees won’t feed the hungry child.
Taking care of children is the responsibility of a mother alone.
Marriage, motherhood everything has a right age. Everything else can wait.
Don’t laugh out loud, stop giggling. It isn’t good for your image.
Put your family first, your husband and his family is your ultimate destination. Learn to solve your issues or learn to endure.
Answering back, having strong opinions – are big NOs”
Few of the many suggestions and expert advices handed over to us from times innumerable by our well-wishers none other than our society including our own family members. In short the onus of looking and being good, being responsible (as deemed and defined by the society) always rested on the shoulders of a woman. The placards of a family’s pride and shame are by default under the custody of a woman / girl. It doesn’t mean that man has not been assigned any responsibility. But in comparison to those entrusted to or rather forced upon a woman they are frail and fragile. If a man is earning and feeding his family a major chunk of his duties are met. His behaviour and attitude go off the radar of questioning (not off the radar of back biting though). And this has been the case no matter which country, which culture a woman belongs to. In fact I used to feel that societal pressure of as to how a girl or woman should look and behave is a norm in India which is predominantly a conservative and patriarchal society but when one of my readers suggested me to write about how girls were supposed to behave a certain way in her growing up years and might be even now and she doesn’t belong to India, few of my misconceptions cleared. http://www.corneliaweber-photography.com – reader I was referring to.
Sexism is so deep rooted and far fledged. Even the creativity of media is not left untouched by it. Few simple examples –
- A father applies for a loan to send his son for higher studies and to marry off his daughter. Marriage thus is the highest goal / achievement of a girl’s life.
- A dusky coloured girl is no good. Fair complexion on the other hand is a matter of pride for the family and she is a winner already.
- Our movies show how the protagonist will always fall for the docile and coy dame whereas the outgoing, strong, opinionated girl will always be good as his friend only. She won’t make a good life partner. Thereby encouraging / suppressing a certain type of behaviour so as to be in good books.
This is pretty much the cycle of one impacting the other. And sadly it is still working. Though things are changing to an extent that more and more girls are being given a chance to get educated, to voice their opinions, to choose their career paths. More laws and perks chalked out to ensure better environment for girls. The average age at which a girl gets married is definitely getting pushed further with every passing decade. What is used to be 18 or 19 now stands at 25 -27 (in metropolitan and major cities of course). A welcome change giving a woman a little more opportunity to shape up things how she wants them. (* note: excuse me for bringing up “marriage” numerous times in our conversation but sadly still the parents feel it is the ultimate motto of their lives 😁). More and more women taking up careers and making comebacks, giving their contribution in strengthening the economy is a fresh breath of air.
But one thing really bothers me very much. The tag of a super woman, as defined by the hypocrite side of society (read jobless neighbours, always jealous relatives, ever unsatisfied in laws) – a woman who is educated, cooks well, earns for the family, looks great, keeps the home spotlessly clean, takes care of the kids, serves everyone in the family with a never ceasing smile on her face and most importantly she never complains or has mood offs, never says NO most importantly. Even the super man has to fight of less number of villains than donning so many hats. As a society we have to overcome our fetish for “Tags of Super”. This could induce excruciating pain for the person (talking about every woman) with whom expectations are tied up – I meant both physically and mentally. Who are we to judge someone’s capabilities? This is an important question to be asked at this very moment. As a society we need to rethink our stand in matters pertaining to a woman / girl (let’s not leave boys our of this 😁):
- Raise kids equally : it implies two things, mother and father both should be held responsible for a child’s upbringing. And kids of both the genders should be given same set of tasks at home without any bias. A boy can cook and a girl can take care of accounts. Such upbringing would ensure a complete person in the making.
- Don’t tell your boys that boys don’t cry. Such suppression can be dangerous as they find infliction of pain on others as an outlet to their emotions. Many domestic violence cases have this psychological disorder behind them.
- Marriage / bearing kids is not the end of the world. Stop thinking about other’s personal decisions.
- Accept the fact that everyone have their own strengths and flaws. A fish can’t fly and and a monkey can’t swim in water. Your constant critical judgement may fail them in things they do best. They need space, so back out please.
- Stop making people believe irrespective of the gender that their lives will be meaningful only if they are able to please everyone and fit the “normal” bill. It is the peer pressure many a times that can stop a husband from participating in the household chores lest he will be called a hen pecked husband. It is the same pressure that makes a woman to continue her broken relationships lest she will be tagged with numerous tags for she decided to think about her freedom.
A woman needs equal amount of respect and space as that of love. She deserves it completely, period!! And I salute to everyone who are leading the path in giving complete support to the women in their lives.
PS: I am not a supporter of third wave of (toxic) feminism that completely distorted the meaning of space and freedom for women and wrongly influencing young minds. Boozing, doing drugs, having multiple physical relationships, using swear words, manipulating situations and using sympathy / victim card to settle scores with every man in their lives in the name of empowerment is only polluting the already fragile fabric of the society. Empowerment is about educating and emancipation. It’s about getting equal opportunities, equal pay, equal rights. If something is wrong for a man it is equally wrong for a woman too, just because she does it won’t make it right.