Why Do Women Lack Self-Respect?

Posted: October 16, 2015

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Why do women lack self-respect? Many Indian women are incapable of pursuing their careers or dreams after marriage. With all due respect to women who are doing this, it doesn’t look to me like an act of compromise, but of cowardice.

It has been more than 10 years since my friend and I finished high school. So many memories are etched in the black board of my brain, but luckily friendships don’t fade away with time; instead, they get stronger. It was the birthday of my childhood friend, who is living with her husband in a joint family in my hometown. She has given up her high-paying job in a metro city, and has settled in a small town catering to her husband’s job’s needs. I didn’t mention this to show my friend as a “sacrificing goddess,” but to display the incapability of an Indian woman to pursue her career and dreams after marriage. With all due respect to women who are doing this, it doesn’t look to me an act of compromise, but of cowardice.

Most women in India – living with their in-laws, surrendering to families every day, keeping themselves on least priority, covering heads with ‘dupattas’ whole day, touching feet of everyone-who-visits-home etc. –  they don’t follow traditions because they want to. They do it because they lack the courage of going against these traditions that don’t make any sense. Their insecurities toward their future make them follow rules that are illogical, and sometimes inhuman.

Let’s come back to the birthday bash story of my friend, with which I opened this article. So I gave her a call that morning. (I hate to ring married friends at midnight, for the reasons that you obviously know!) Her husband picked up the phone, and seemed to indulge me on long conversations, which I hesitatingly cut midway as I was running late for work. I asked him to hand over phone to his wife so that I could give wish her on her birthday. I guessed she was busy in the kitchen with mundane chores, as you know how messy a homemaker’s mornings are!

Now I had to continue talking to him until she would get free. I couldn’t resist myself from asking the obvious question, “Why don’t you help your wife with household work on her birthday?” This question was enough to hurt his ego, and he started calling his wife again, with more haste and irritation now. After a few more minutes when she finally came, he shouted at her in the harshest tone, “Don’t your ears work in the morning; I have been calling for so long!” Embarrassed, my poor and sensitive friend apologised to him, took the phone, controlled her tears and started chatting to me. To impress her angry and irritated husband, who was still standing in front of her, she told me with forced excitement, “You know, my husband is giving me a new mobile as a birthday gift!” Surprised and shocked I replied, “Why don’t you ask him to talk with you nicely, as a present?”

So close and dear she is to me that I definitely didn’t say this to embarrass her, but to let her realise her worth! She kept silent. But in that silence I could hear her cries for self-esteem, freedom, and dignity!

Unfortunately, it’s not the story of one woman out of the blue, but of the majority of us! Most Indian women tolerate nonsensical rituals because of the roundabout social pressure. They associate their worth with how their husbands acknowledge it. A strong stand taken by a woman goes longer than it ideally should. A woman’s private life matter becomes a topic of interest of the entire family, of neighbours, of second and third relatives, and so on.

Most Indian women tolerate nonsensical rituals because of the roundabout social pressure. They associate their worth with how their husbands acknowledge it. A strong stand taken by a woman goes longer than it ideally should.

So women start being indifferent about indecent attitudes toward them. They start getting happy with the fact that their husbands give them “something” as a birthday present instead of “nothing.” They start feeling happy that they are not being beaten, or harassed. It’s asking too little from a man whom they offer too much to every day.

I wonder what is it that a man can offer a woman who is independent, responsible, and intelligent. What is the least we can expect from our husbands, fathers, brothers, or anybody else? What is that one thing we keep looking in every person we meet? What is it, after all? And why it’s so hard to find that one thing? Why it’s so abundantly missing? And why is its absence unanimously accepted by one and all? Is it our weakness or strength that we are unable to fit into the system that is running from centuries? I wonder do you also ponder on these lines or is it just me?

Do write any feelings, thoughts or comments if you have any, for the sake of every woman who is reading this article!

Image via Shutterstock.

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  1. Loved the article..very true indeed. Many women do not do this out of fear.its mainly sacrifice..for which they are never considered worthy at all because for society these are so called set rules.if a women doesn’t sacrifice then they are tortured and irritated and finally pressurised that finally they give up.

  2. Dear Author, appreciate your concern for women, but would like you to not generalise the problem faced by few unfortunate females (I will agree for a majority).Take a look around and you’ll find plenty of men supporting their wives, going beyond comfort, even sometimes taking strong stance against their parents who raised them.With every passing day more and more women are coming to the front. Let’s stop criticising men and start appreciating who are breaking prejudices.Keep going, your efforts will surely bring substantial change to the society.


  3. This article is another example to say how housewives are judged as having no self-respect as much as working women are judged as not caring for the family. So, whether working or not, women are judged anyway. I think it is too harsh to criticize the woman here. When both families and people from all sides cajole you and pressurize you I don’t think there’s much a woman can do. The author is a working woman, may be that is why she finds it legitimate enough to call her friend a coward. Why is it so difficult to not judge and look at the issue in a deeper sense. Why not focus on from where the change should start? Why not work towards it with hope?

  4. Dear Author,

    I totally agree with your comments. But I think its more on women’s side than men, that make women lack their own self respect. Women feel that keeping themselves on last on priority list is their duty. This is how they finally forget about their self respect. Unless n untill a women gives importance to herself, she won’t give a serious thought to her self respect.

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