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This post looks at the freedoms we enjoy, and how we are yet to be completely free. #FreedomIs going home alone from a party, without fearing for your safety on the streets, or your reputation in the neighbourhood, says this post. Freedom is safety and respect!
The #FreedomIs campaign asked readers to share their idea of what freedom is, and what freedoms they wanted, through a selfie with a message. The results were varied and beautiful. You can see the collection of #FreedomIs selfies here. Don’t forget to send us your own!
I have mostly associated the word Freedom with Independence from outside control, from more of a political perspective. Perhaps that was how my ‘education’ was or what I have learnt in my conscious and sub-conscious mind. But what does freedom mean to me? Do I have freedom? Do I feel free? umm… that’s quite a thought.
This line, which I learnt since childhood kept ringing in my mind : “Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high”. I tried to look back and recollect – when am I really free? When did I feel free? It was quite a brainstorming session, as I tried to rewind back.
In my growing up years, from the moment I began my education, I was taught verbally, and of course, moral lesson classes in schools – about discipline and social ethic that goes down well into your system. At the back of my mind, I always feared that I will go against the teachings of parents, elders in the society, in schools and colleges.
As I grew older, I always kept in mind that I must dress properly – for fear of elders at home and in the society. I took care to return home in time, to take permission if I had to step out of the house.
Of course, there were incidents when I needed to break the ‘laws’. Many a time, facing music for that disobedience, such as sneaking out for a movie, were indeed disastrous.
Now, I am a working woman, I earn on my own, though in a small way. Of course, I feel a sense of independence. But this independence is limited. It does gives me the independence; the choice, to buy what dress I want. And yes, I do have the liberty to wear what I want.
But I cannot wear all of those dresses to office. In the social sector, there are two issues – you cannot wear western dresses if you are going to rural areas or meeting people, as one should not appear to be too fashionable. The other issue is even though nobody says what to wear and what not wear, one gets all sorts of comments and draws too much unnecessary attention. Though this is not a written code or law, one is supposed to ‘understand’ and be aware of such ethics.
And yes, all these decisions are taken by the boss or immediate senior.
Yes, independent. I am not restricted from parties; I am not restricted from hanging out with whoever I want. I can wear as much make up as I want, I am free to wear the shortest skirts, I can get drunk! Everybody seems progressive when it comes to parties and celebrations!
But here comes the limited independence – Can I go back alone? Will someone drop me back home? Can I trust that person?
And I am conscious and aware of the gossip and attitude in the neighbourhood. Nobody is openly interfering in my life; after all I am a working woman. Independent and educated to look after my own life, I am expected to solve my own problem if I land into one! But this indifferent attitude has an underlying message. A tag is attached to women like me with a “free lifestyle”. The meaning, I believe everyone of us can understand.
When I do not fear going back alone from a party,when I do not fear being the subject of gossip, when I don’t fear displeasing my senior, do not fear society’s stigma, and do not fear the diktats of some “social organization” – that is when I can truly rejoice freedom.
Pic credit: Good_day (Used under a CC license)
Independent journalist writing on/ of north-east India and engaging with women groups in the
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