I often lie awake at night wondering if this is indeed the 21st century that we’re living in. Because given the prejudices women continue to face in society even today – it doesn’t seem so.
As a woman, there are countless times when people around you undermine you. Some of us put our heads down and choose ignorance as a way to cope. Some of us retort and give it back in equal measure. And while all of us may have our own ways to process what we receive, it’s high time the world stops undermining us, RIGHT?!
Undermining of women’s efforts and societal impacts has been going on for too long. Despite all the amazing things that women do and achieve in life, we still have to hear unsolicited opinions and statements that are no less than infuriating.
It’s A Girl!
It all begins right from the time we are born. Hell, sometimes even before! In India, female foeticide continues to take place even today. The sad truth is we live in a country where giving birth to a girl is still looked down upon by many. Thankfully, times are changing, and people are slowly letting go of such age-old thoughts and ideals. However, we still have a long, long way to go. Until we arrive at a time when society experiences equal happiness and joy at the birth of a child irrespective of its gender, we must continue to fight this fight.
Behave Like A Girl.
But it doesn’t just stop at birth, does it? As girls grow older, they remain the subjects of misogyny. “Don’t play too much in the sun, you’ll get dark”, “Girls don’t play with boys, girls play with girls”, “You must learn how to dress, sit, and behave like a girl”. UGH! It’s truly disheartening how, as girls, we spend the formative years of our lives constantly trying to adjust and adapt only to please the expectations of our elders and society.
Don’t Go Out, Just Stay At Home.
Fast forward a couple of years, and the bias magnifies. “Don’t stay out too late”, “Girls from decent families don’t drink and smoke”, “You can’t have a boyfriend” …..we wish there were an end to these statements.
Ever wonder if the boys around us have to adhere to these ridiculous rules? Hard to imagine. While growing up, we seldom see the boys having to live up to these moral standards. In fact, if they happen to drink, smoke, have girlfriends, or party late into the night, they’re deemed to be cool studs with an exciting social life.
See a woman doing the same? She’ll most likely be considered a slut and a woman with a loose character.
Focus On Your Marriage. Not A Career!
Ah, the age-old regressive thought where a woman has to choose between her work and her husband. Now, don’t get me wrong. There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with a woman choosing her work over marriage or vice versa – as long as the decision is hers. If someone wishes to choose to be a housewife, so be it. If someone wishes to advance in their career and work post marriage, so be it. What angers me is that, most often, women are not the ones making their own decisions. They are forced to quit their jobs and urged to “settle down” with their husbands. And even if they do work, their career needs are almost always downplayed compared to their partner’s.
Why Don’t You Have Kids Yet?
If dictating and controlling our marriage and work choices isn’t enough, we are also constantly pressured to have children. Privacy is a concept long forgotten in India, so much so that a young married couple with no kids end up raising quite a few eyebrows. The wife, especially, is hounded by relatives and family pestering to know why they haven’t had kids yet.
Lest a couple where both partners are working decide to have children, it’s always the mother who is assumed and expected to quit her job and take care of the child. Almost as if men staying home and taking care of children is a concept unheard of entirely.
You see, there is a sad, tragic pattern that exists here. All our lives, right from the time we are born until we give birth to our own, we are subject to bias, sexism, and discrimination. Yes, men and women are different – both have their own qualities, attributes, and strengths – that ultimately make them equal!
All we are trying to say is stop undermining and trying to shape us into the ideal woman you want us to be. We are so much more than that.