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A well-known director revealed in a chat show with me that her parents raised her to be her own person, and never thought to discriminate between her and her brothers. In fact, she said, her first drink was with her father who encouraged her to be open and responsible with her parents rather than turn her into a rebel. The parents obviously know a thing or two about raising children.
The woman has turned into a celebrity known for making sensible cinema. Her in-laws, she further revealed, still cannot tolerate their son drinking alcohol in their presence, never mind that both they and he are mature professionals. The woman is truly a Beyond Pink woman, independent, empowered and clear about her goals. In my view, she has got there because she never felt the need to ‘hide’ from her parents.
Women aren’t dainty pieces of china to be handled with extreme caution, or ticking bombs, to be kept at a wary distance. Of course they know that, but does everyone else around them? There is really no need to cocoon them from the ‘ills’ of the world. Their maturity in handling any situation that challenges their sensibilities is the same, if not higher, than of men. Allow them the use of the faculties, and see what a difference they make to their environment. Restrict them and enforce patriarchal values and watch them turn into perfect viragos.
Here one isn’t talking about tolerance. Tolerance implies kindness, indulgence, patronage. Tolerance is a negation of negativity, it is the twilight zone of neutrality. Tolerance at best creates wallflowers, women who are happy to be ignored and will, therefore, perpetuate the canard that a woman must be seen and not heard.
In fact, women must be encouraged from childhood to be open, and honest and courageous, to speak their minds, to act with boldness, to meet challenges head on. If in childhood, their personality is shaped to be honest, then that’s the face they’ll present to themselves and the rest of the world. Imagine the excitement and relief of having millions of honest people in this world, people who say exactly what they believe without the need for obfuscation.
So out with the ‘don’t laugh too much, don’t eat too much, don’t drink too much, don’t sleep around too much’ and in with the ‘be yourself, be sensible, be good, be happy’. The women such an attitude will create will build a world of creativity, of declaring that they can do anything, take up the toughest challenges, mould society to their demands. Wouldn’t we all like to live in such a world?
Pic credit: bljh (Used under a Creative Commons license)
Beyond Pink writes on women's stories in urban India. They could be real or
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