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Accepting your love for chick lit publicly means you will be looked down upon as girly, but what is wrong with being girly?
Would you crack an interview for an editorial position if the answer to ‘who’s your favourite author’ is Sophie Kinsella and not Salman Rushdie?
Late at night, we all love reading about a twenty-something urban girl, who has a career, is willing to have fun, wrestle with weight gain, and ridicule arranged marriages and find love her way. The genre recognisable with its pink cover art of stilettos, martini glasses and lipsticks has been growing in popularity in India as well. Rajashree’s Trust Me is the biggest selling Indian chick lit novel. We all bought Weisberger’s The Devil Wears Prada and re-read Bridget Jones, nursing our girly-sentiments of a rosy-coloured world with a perfect happily-ever-after with our Mr Darcy. Bollywood movies like Aisha grossed a profit.
But we still feel ashamed to accept our love for them in a social gathering. Why? Why is chick lit as a genre looked down upon with a derogatory glance? Young boys do not feel ashamed to accept that they loved the Pyar ka Punchnama movie. The typical image of a “young boy” is associated with being chilled out, hurling invectives, flirtations and life revolving around friends and a peg of whisky. Not a very pleasant picture. But they are not ashamed of it!
If a woman accepts that she likes nursing her soft, cushion-y sentiments by reading chick lit and watching chick-flicks, that she dreams of her “perfect man”, her Darcy, and would love to cuddle up with a Teddy Bear sometimes, eating Doritos and drinking Diet Coke would mean she is aligning to the stereotypical image of a girl. And in this male-oriented world, being a girl means being weak. And that is why, in this patriarchal world, a woman needs to portray herself as a ‘strong’ woman, a woman capable of “surviving” (see, implying you cannot “survive” without taking on pretensions). And what you read is what you are. So I would rather praise Arvind Adiga or Arundhati Roy than Advaita Kala, the debutante author of Almost Single.
It might seem to be a trivial thing, but it is a deep-rooted effect of patriarchy; and it is exactly why patriarchy is still prevalent. How can we expect society (that is, men) to see women as powerfully equal when we ourselves are ashamed, embarrassed and feel sheepish about embracing our true selves? What we are trying to become is pseudo-males, which would obviously be second in position to true males, and the society/patriarchy is thriving on this misconception of ours that being a man is better and a ‘womanly’ image is disparaging. There is nothing wrong with enjoying and reading the books of Paulo Coelho or Ayn Rand, but then neither with Lindsey Kelk’s.
That we are embarrassed at accepting that deep down, within that tom-boyish exterior, or a strong corporate woman attitude, we still harbour ‘girly’ feelings, says a lot about why an egalitarian world is a pipe dream. We need to accept and understand that there is nothing wrong with being girly. Let us embrace our womanhood proudly!
Pic credit: Enokson (Used under a Creative Commons license)
A student of English Literature, Shaifali loves to write, likes to read and enjoys sketching. read more...
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It is easy to give in to patriarchal expectations from a married woman and lose your self in a marriage, but the path to happiness is in keeping your independence.
Marriage is often described as the joining of two individuals’ bodies, minds, and souls. Upon getting married, you are expected to share everything with your partner, including time, money, and all other aspects of life. Your life should revolve around your spouse from beginning to end.
But is it necessary to spend every waking moment with the spouse? Are you not supposed to have a life apart from your spouse? And do these rules apply only to women or men as well?
Although both men and women may face this situation, women are generally expected to give up everything once they get married. Despite progress in several areas, expecting women to abandon their interests, passions, and friendships to align their lives with those of their spouses is still considered the norm.
The rising numbers of single women choosing this life shout out clear and loud that patriarchy and sexism will no longer break or chain us.
Another book on singlehood? It seems to be the season for books on the joys and freedom of being single. But Demystifying and Dignifying Singlehood: Life Journeys of Single Women Across the Globe by Uma Jain is different. The book does not glorify or glamourise the lives of single women in any way. These are real stories – with the good, the bad and the ugly, all there.
The book tells the stories of 15 single women across the world. A feeling of deep understanding and empathy fills you as you read the book and understand the challenges faced by the women who are single – by choice or chance. Some of the women chose to be single because they faced discrimination and even abuse as girl children. Some others had abusive marriages and sought divorce.
The tag line ‘Crafting pathways on rough terrains’ on the cover page is enough to tell you that this is a serious take on the issue of singlehood. If it focuses more on the rough than the smooth, that has been the reality for the 15 women.
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