Women we need to create a culture not just of excellence, but of honor, commitment, resilience, and sisterhood. Why don't we do that?
"When a man gives his opinion, he's a man; when a woman gives her opinion, she's a bitch." -Bette Davis
This is the most common derogation associated with feminists around the globe. A woman who has a voice. A woman who possesses a headstrong character, who dares to have ambitions beyond the limits of the men in her life; who has aspirations surpassing her community - a staunchly independent woman.
A woman who commands utmost respect purely by virtue of being who she is, but she rarely gets it.
Such women are not even appreciated, let alone celebrated. And despite everything she is, she isn’t considered family-oriented or “homely”. And that is the most polite opinion of all the ones she's been subjected to.
“Women, they have minds, and they have souls, as well as just hearts. And they’ve got ambition, and they’ve got talent, as well as just beauty. I’m so sick of people saying that love is all a woman is fit for.” - Louisa May Alcott, Little Women
Through millennia or at least centuries, women have been expected to associate their identities with the men in their lives. She’s a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother. But who is she outside of these relationships?
She is devoid of a voice and denied of an identity.
The sham in the name of rights which exist on papers and legislation; but she’s not expected to exercise those very “rights".
And this isn’t even about the larger issues associated with the omnipresent patriarchy and misogyny in society.
Have you ever paused to think that despite decades of educating and campaigning against patriarchy, not much has changed. Maybe it’s not blaring like loud sirens day in and out, but it is there. Buried deeper into the psyche of everyone, men, and women alike, irrespective of their educational status.
As far as I can remember, I have witnessed it everywhere. In all strata of the society, every class, every family, every dynamic. Sometimes it’s obvious; sometimes you don’t even realize it. Often we brush it up as the norm, at most just an inconvenience. There’s policing what we eat, the emotions we possess, the clothes we wear, the careers we are expected or not expected to choose, and that’s not even the end of it.
Men supporting patriarchal views isn’t that surprising, but when women exercise the very rules and hold the views that intend to suppress them, that rob them of their individuality, it frustrates me to no end.
In fact, it is women who became the enforcers of these archaic rules and views over time. And we while growing up, didn’t even realize this, or just brushed it aside. The ugly monster grew into something so abhorrent that it would horrify your very soul, if you pause and truly think about it.
When men cheat on their partners, the other woman is termed the home wrecker or slag by fellow women. When a woman violates, the society puts the blame on her. Men are rarely held accountable. When a woman rebels, her fellow women would try to pull her back, pull her down. It is often the women slinging mud at the other women, assassinating her character. And we all know this. We have somewhat accepted it, albeit reluctantly.
Last week, there was a truly horrifying incident that shook me to the core, a gut-wrenching tale of women physically assaulting a woman for no fault of hers, but that of a man, actively humiliating her in the worst possible ways, encouraging, and enabling her repeated violation solely with the purpose of “putting her in her place".
Then there’s this marriage strike movement started by men protesting against laws which protect women, bizarrely supported by many so-called educated women. And these are just two of numerous examples of such despicable acts and ideologies.
I wonder, where should we draw the line? When should we decide if enough is enough? When did it get so backwards? When did it go from women supporting women to women against women? How did it become so ugly that it resorted to violence and crime perpetrated by the very people who were the most affected by it?
Or was it always like this?
Why didn’t we stop it in our very households? When we were shamed for our needs or desires. When we were lectured about the duties we were expected to fulfill, the onus of the irrational expectations and responsibilities laden on our shoulders, was it the right time to stop there. Should we have protested then?
Why didn’t we nip it in the bud? What kind of a world do we live in? Is this the world we are going to pass down to the coming generations, uglier and more stifling than what we have today? I hope not. And the irony of all this is that no matter how hard we try to change this, there’s an even larger group of people who would still choose to ignore this; there would be an even larger group that will always try to undo whatever we try to achieve.
I hope that someday it won’t be a one step forward and ten steps back kind of journey. Till then let’s raise our voices; let’s have dreams, and if not, at least not bow down to their pressure, let’s refuse to give up. And rebel, covertly if not blatantly.
“I raise up my voice—not so that I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard. … We cannot all succeed when half of us are held back." -Malala Yousafzai
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