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Who makes up society? And who makes the rules that ‘good Indian women’ have to abide by? Look into yourself and make that change now if others have to change.
Has it ever occurred to you that as women we are always ‘adjusting’, abiding by the rules of so called ‘society’ as if we live by some unwritten manual of customs? Who designs these customs and decides what should be done, in which manner?
I am going to list certain scenarios that are common to almost every other woman. These do not refer to any specific families, but definitely portray what is prevalent in most Indian families.
The ideal profession is chosen keeping in mind that being a woman will have its own limitations – biological, physical, emotional.
The ideal age of marriage? The sooner the better, else…!
The right time to start a family or to get the kids married? Same as above – the sooner, the better.
The necessity of wearing sindoor or bindi or a mangalsutra all the time, or dress up like a newlywed while going to a relative’s function even if been married for so many years now.
The blessing that always conveys – “May you be blessed with a boy soon!”
The question of to fast or not to fast on Karwa chauth.
You are not ‘supposed to’ put on weight post marriage unless there is some ‘good news’.
When you have been married for long and still don’t have a child, all eyes are on your belly when you meet your relatives or those aged aunts in the society park. You kind of get used to that with time… isn’t it?
You actually start dealing with the the standard concern of those aunts: “Koi dikkat hai kya beta? Kisi ache doctor ko dikhaya?” (Is there any problem? Why don’t you see a good doctor?)
You suddenly feel that your opinion doesn’t matter in family discussions or your opinion about someone on the in-laws’ side is always shut down, while it’s perfectly okay if they themselves crib about it (or even about your parents or relatives!) the whole day.
Your husband was mocked over and over when he was caught cooking breakfast or helping in household chores.
You feel as if you are ‘being allowed’ by in-laws to go out for work (in generic terms).
You ‘take permission’ or approval to go and meet your own parents (in generic terms again).
The household helpers are restricted from touching certain things and some are even not allowed to enter certain sections of the house.
We live in a country known for its vivid customs and rituals. I am surely proud of our culture but I do not like following everything without questioning if it feels unfair.
I believe that customs and rituals are essential to maintain our heritage and help a lot in building a sense of belonging and connectivity, especially acting as building block in our child’s growth as well. But when these traditions start restricting the growth of one section of society, it calls for some serious and essential customization.
Predominantly it is not the people who need to be changed, rather it is the mindset. It is not that difficult to bring about a change, just that some mindsets are easily moldable while some are hard to.
Merely putting on a bindi or a mangalsutra is not going to prove the sanctity of my marriage or my relationship with my in-laws. And the question to be asked is: why there is a need to prove anything?
I like to dress up in traditional Indian wear as much I adore western wear, or a mix of both. But I sure as hell do not like to dress to define my relationships or marital status. It’s up to what I want at the moment that decides how I want to dress up for an occasion; I do like to dress up and enjoy for all our festivals with loved ones, but it should be left to everyone to take their decisions in their own space.
Life is not always written like a movie script, nor is it written like a school textbook where every question should have a standard answer.
We are neither robots, nor are we clones of each other. We ought to choose our own path and decide what to do with it. Each one of us is struggling in our own ways with one situation or the other. The solution best suited for someone may not be apt for another. Who knows when is the exact time or best way to do anything?
So why not have some faith in ourselves and have our own firsthand experience? When you start feeling responsible for your actions, only then will you not repent for the decisions you take in life.
So have the candour to deal with your own decisions as an individual or as a partner – be it for getting married or having a baby or doing a job.
As I always say, it’s important we understand, we are the society! We are the ones who make up this society, so we should decide whether we have to be in the rat race, act dumb, and do as they say, or be the revolution or bring about one.
As rightly said, every change starts from within. Why not to start by looking into your own self? When we expect others to change, we should be prepared with all our heart to make certain alterations in our self as well!
Our outlook towards life is articulated partially by our childhood environment, upbringing, behaviour and teachings of parents, experience with our siblings, and partially by our own experiences. It is something that does not take shape overnight. Hence, any change demanded in the same will not happen promptly.
If you are ready to be aware about yourself, it will not be that hard for you to be brave enough to accept the shortcomings that affect your attitude and your relationships, in the end affecting yourself.
The principal thing is to prepare oneself for the challenges of a change.
There will be retaliations, people will get judgmental, and you may be emotionally blackmailed. But if you are ready to face the consequences and be patient, then nothing can stop you.
Header image is a still from the movie Hum Aapke Hain Kaun
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A Creative Writer by choice and an IT person by profession, Shruti likes to make
Most of these thought really rung a bell with me…I really liked how you did not just put customs on a stake and tried to explore both sides in the line “I believe that customs and rituals are essential to maintain our heritage and help a lot in building a sense of belonging and connectivity, especially acting as building block in our child’s growth as well”. A job well done 🙂
Well written Shruti…This article is something which can strike a chord in all the women who are judged on the basis of norms prevalent in the society which govern the so called “Right time” for any important decision in ones life. People who encourage this trend should try to imagine themselves on the other end if the line to know how demeaning it is to bear this.
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