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Let us look at an alternative essay on the modern girl that needs to be included in the school curriculum instead of the regressive garbage that is there.
At this point, most of us are familiar with the infamous essay about the “modern girl”. The essay, intended for school children, asserts that the modern girl is a self-centered, shrewish creature who cares too much about her clothes and appearance. Understandably, there is great concern about the influence that it may have on the young minds that are the future of the country.
Fellow Women’s Web contributor Piyusha Vir, had a Facebook post up recently, in which she described how she used this essay to conduct an exercise with the girls in her Standard XI class at a government school. She noted that the children were able to intelligently and respectfully navigate the stereotype-ridden minefield that this essay is. Children are smarter than we think they are! So maybe, it’s not them we need to worry about — it’s the adults. Especially the sort of adult who came up with this essay in the first place.
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On my part, I decided that we need a better essay. So here it is; an alternative essay that any student, anywhere in India, is free to use!
The modern girl is intelligent, smart and conscious. She has a strong personality and is not submissive. She is well aware of her place in society – the privileges she may have as compared to other demographic groups, and the challenges that she has to face. She is open-minded. She recognizes that while there is value in traditions, it is unwise to follow something just because it has been done that way in the past. She knows that because something is a tradition, it does not automatically mean that it is right or just.
She recognizes that gender should not define anybody’s choices about clothes, ambitions or professional endeavours. She does not subscribe to traditional gender roles, and prefers to make choices based on her own individual likes and dislikes, rather than on the basis of arbitrary rules of society. For example, she may or may not enjoy following the latest fashion trends. She may prefer sarees over mini-skirts, or vice-versa. The main thing, for her, irrespective of what she wears, is that she feels comfortable and confident. She does not care what others think about her clothes, nor does she judge others for what they are wearing.
The modern girl may be extroverted and peppy, or introverted and shy, but irrespective of these personality traits, she does not hesitate to speak up for herself and others. She is assertive, not because she wants to live like a boy, but because she wants to live her life to the fullest.
She may choose to be a homemaker or work outside the home, depending on what makes her happy and helps her to utilize her potential. She is strong, loving, and capable of fulfilling her responsibilities. While she is a caring and conscientious mother, daughter, sister, or wife, she also has a strong identity of her own which is not defined by these roles. She is not overly self-effacing or self-sacrificing.
She gives respect when she receives it. She rejects gender roles and insists that all members of the family, irrespective of their gender/sex, contribute equally. She also knows that just because she is a girl, it is not mandatory for her to get married or have children.
She has a strong sense of responsibility, not only towards her family members, but also towards society at large. She is kind and compassionate. She does not discriminate on the basis of class, caste, religion, or sexuality. She is open and accepting. She does not tolerate injustice of any kind and boldly challenges it. She fights for the rights of those who are less fortunate than her.
The modern girl is independent. She takes efforts to develop her skills and talents so that she does not have to depend on others. While she may consult others, her decisions are ultimately her own. She does not need a boy to support her or to make her happy. If she is with a boy, it is because she has chosen to be with him, and not because she needs him to take care of her. She knows that gender is only a construct, and does not hesitate to develop healthy, fulfilling friendships with like-minded people of all genders.
She believes in self-care and takes time to cultivate her own interests and hobbies. She likes to have fun, and indulges in indoor/outdoor activities like sports, treks etc. that she enjoys. As a part of her regimen of self-care, she pays close attention to her diet and exercise. She may be fat or thin, fair or dark – her looks are not as important to her as her overall health is. She realizes that to fulfill her responsibilities to those around her, she first has to take care of herself.
She is educated, well-spoken and can hold her own in a discussion. She can disagree respectfully. She is honest in her interactions with others, and is not manipulative.
She knows her own potential. She too has dreams and aspirations. She is aware of the contributions that she can make to society at large. Therefore, she does not let narrow-minded societal expectations hold her back.
It is true that parents are partly responsible for the development of her positive and inspiring personality. It is up to parents to encourage their daughters and not limit them. This will help them to be brave, confident, and capable.
The modern woman is not just the woman of today. She was Maitreyi. She was Noor Jehan. She was Rani Lakshmibai. She was Savitribai Phule. She was Indira Gandhi. She is one of the female scientists who worked on Mangalyaan. She is Rahi Sarnobat. She will be the next female Prime Minister of India. She is every woman who knows herself, in every generation.
Image source: shutterstock
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Vijayalakshmi Harish is a book blogger and writer. To paraphrase her librarian, she is a
Wonderful, Vijayalakshmi! Agreed with every word you wrote here. What a graceful yet fitting comeback to the regressive BS! Thank you for writing this. 🙂
Thank you so much, Kasturi! So glad you liked it!
Yes awesome article and yes every generation has had its share of strong modern women 🙂
Thank you, Mary! Glad you enjoyed the essay. I had to make it clear that it is not just “these girls today! uff!” 😉
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