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Why do women get praised for multiple roles as though they were only a sum of all these compartments and not a whole person?
In how many different ways can a woman be praised for being a juggler of socially-defined identities? Were I Elizabeth Barrett Browning, I’d have answered, “Let me count the ways.” And I would identify so many, I’d end up having to juggle them, which in turn would lead to me being praised for being a juggler.
If my rant made no sense, consider this: social rhetoric, media and popular culture frequently collaborate to reinforce the image of a (usually successful) woman playing many roles. “Wife! Mother! Daughter! Activist!”, they’ll exclaim, carving womanhood down to individual parts and a woman’s identity to an assortment of such roles. Further, this is meant to be an appreciative assessment of The One Who Does All This and More, when relational descriptors are simply reductionist labels. Because if you move in closer, you begin to see the fine print about how a wife/daughter/mother/daughter-in-law is defined, when in reality, few or none of those crisply-edited specifications could apply to individual women.
Now here comes the confusing bit: But we do manage a whole array of tasks in different capacities, don’t we? Sure we do. Many of us. And granted, a majority of women still undertake the daily grunt work of chores, picking up after their families, running errands, and it is true that additional role expectations increase stress. But would it kill anyone to just see us as PEOPLE instead of peeling apart each act and compartmentalizing it in giant containers labeled with every possible relationship a woman is ever known by?
I don’t even need to highlight how men never get told, “Oh my! Son! Husband! Father! Businessman! Secret smoker on the pot! You do so much!” Every human being regardless of gender enjoys appreciation, and women frequently shoulder society’s thankless, less respected tasks, which makes recognition a wonderful thing, but as a person, please. As a human being who belong to herself: her body, her brain, her volition; not an automaton who goes about life fulfilling her relational tags, no matter how valuable, rewarding and all-consuming they are.
As a woman, I would like to choose my war paint. Don’t plaster me with tags to the point where you can’t really see me. The loss will be yours. And as a civilization, we lose something valuable each time we can’t see the uniqueness in an individual. And heaven forbid the foisting of those definitions becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy and we begin to see ourselves as successful solely within their boundaries, or accomplished because social commentary lauds us in these specific ways. To those fracturing your identity—intentionally or otherwise—say slowly and clearly, “I may do many things, but I am wholly me.” Let’s keep pigeon-holes for the birds, shall we?
Pic credit: Hiking Artist (Used under a Creative Commons license)
Dilnavaz Bamboat's heart occupies prime South Mumbai real estate. The rest of her lives in Silicon Valley, California, where she hikes, reads, hugs redwood trees and raises a pint-sized feminist. She is the read more...
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Does Ranbir Kapoor expressing his preferences about Alia using lipstick really make him a toxic husband?
Sometime back, a video of Alia Bhatt with Vogue went viral where she shares her go-to make-up routine and her unique way to apply lipstick. It went viral not for the quirkiness but because she said that after applying the lipstick, she “rubs it off” because her then boyfriend and now husband – Ranbir Kapoor likes her natural lip colour and asks her to “wipe it off”, whenever they are out on a date night.
Netizens had gone crazy over this video, calling RK toxic and not respecting AB’s choice to wear makeup. I saw the video a couple of times to understand the reason behind the uproar but I failed to understand it. I read many comments and saw people saying that asking your partner or dictating terms on how they should wear makeup is a major sign to leave the person.
Modesty or humility is viewed as the hallmark of a well-brought-up girl, which makes it hard for us to be open to any real compliments without feeling like an imposter.
Why is accepting that compliment so hard?
Colleagues: Have you lost weight? You look good!
She (who has spent months doing Keto and weights): It’s the dress that’s making me look thinner!
Guests: Your house is so beautiful and neat!
She (who spent the last five hours mopping and polishing): It could be tidier; there is just so much dust.
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