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“Woman” is my slave name; feminism will give me freedom to seek some other identity altogether” – ANN SNITOW, “A Gender Diary,” from Conflicts in Feminism
A lot has been talked about the drudgery that women have pulled themselves out of over these years. About what they were and what they are. About how downtrodden they have been in every sphere of their existence and how boldly they are sustaining themselves today. All this and much more are only in the written and spoken word; the truth is nowhere closer. Examples of women CEOs, pilots, inspectors etc are all over; but they are just a handful to be fortunate enough. This doesn’t mean that every single woman in this country is living with dignity and respect that every citizen deserves.
For a woman, the struggle to survive begins right from the time she is an unborn mass of cells in her mother’s womb. Speculations about her existence begin here. Whether she is abandoned before she can even open her eyes to a ruthless world waiting to oppress her in one way or the other or she is given that one chance to prove her worth is just the beginning. I don’t write this post to point out how browbeaten we still are; that only makes me feel worse. Neither do I want that every man who reads it must sympathize with a woman for how she still feels about herself. I write this piece with a hope that all those women who read it must atleast think of giving a real meaning to their existence and take a glance at their own attitude towards their being. To command respect out of every man who thinks of a woman as his slave and wants to dominate her in the name of mythology, customs and rituals, it’s us who need to respect ourselves first for what we are.
As an Indian woman, right from the beginning we are neck-fed with the principles of the institution of marriage. How we must always obey our husbands, compromise to take the marriage forth, respect our in-laws like our own parents and all this without any expectations of those relations. How we must adopt every custom and ritual of our husband’s family and keep aside what we learned all these years at home; no one else teaches us this but our own mothers. How importantly we are warned to get back home on time even if we are at our female friend’s house as it doesn’t show nicely on us and how we must not do anything to grab attention from the opposite sex.
Seems to me as if we all know that we are born to be suppressed and dominated. It is more of a constant turmoil, a conflict of a woman that the world wants me to be with the feminism that I worship within me. It is us who need to secede ourselves from all the taboos and split this chain from passing on to generations to come. Obviously, the point I make here is not at all about disrespecting anyone, but as humans we ought to expect and live as individuals who are not just someone’s daughter-in-law or wife but primarily a ‘woman’ who like any other man living under same circumstances should not be deprived of her rights.
Inspite of the fact that almost every urban household today has a girl working and also many a times supports her family financially, her parents are still making arrangements for the ‘gifts’ that she must take along with her when married. Yes, ‘gifts’ is the sophisticated term used for dowry nowadays without which even the girls’ parents believe they can’t marry their daughters off; just to reassure that she does not face the wrath of the new family she enters. And lets not forget, the boys’ families never ask for dowry, they just want ‘the wedding to be lavish or just “nicely done”’. Now what is that supposed to mean? Which girl’s father would want to get his daughter married in a dingy court or do a substandard function for the biggest dream of his lifetime?
The concept of dowry is all known to everyone of us. It should not hold importance in today’s world as every other woman wants to continue working even after marriage. My blood boils when I hear girls my age talk about what their parents are planning to gift them at their wedding. Ever heard a boy say that? To top everything is the approach of a girl who asserts she has five siblings because her mother wanted a son! Get a life and recognize your worth woman! What is repugnant to believe is when a fellow woman is found saying that she wants to give birth to a baby boy so that no one points their finger out at her! It is so true of the song “We Are The World” that ‘we can’t go on pretending day by day that someone, somewhere will soon make a change’. We need to be the change!
The crab mentality has to come to a standstill. When a girl talks about being harassed by derogatory comments on the road by a cheap filthy moron, why does another woman look down upon her as if it was her mistake to invite attention? When a rape victim somehow manages to get home, why is she battered with declarations that deepen her wounds further? Wearing clothes of her choice is also not in her hands! When all this is much regulated by women we have in our life, how can we start blaming men alone? The discrimination that we have always faced as an inferior sex is unjustifiably attributed to our own willingness to accept it as a preaching from our elders to us; not realizing that we are losing control over our own bodies, minds and lives. Blaming it all to the society we live in is the easiest way to escape the situation not realizing that it is us who make the society. If our mindsets don’t change, how will it?
Feminism to me is not about fighting with every male for my rights. It is about how I fight the woman slave inside me who is ready to be subjugated, demoralized and exploited by the norms that are the brainchild of our religious leaders who have primarily been men. Mind you, no human was sent to this earth with a manual of directives and principles by the highest powers. The epics, scriptures and all the documents by way of which the world is ruled today are meagerly based on the experiences of the ‘men’ who wrote them.
With this I just want to request you to scroll up and go through the quote on the top. And bear it forever!
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