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As a feminist, people are surprised when they find me dainty and feminine. They'd be surprised when they know the backbone of steel I can have.
As a feminist, people are surprised when they find me dainty and feminine. They’d be surprised when they know the backbone of steel I can have.
Does the epithet intrigue you? It is antithetical and an oxymoron! Yet, that aptly sums up my true self.
I am 5ft and a little something. If you presumed a feminist to be aggressively loud, donning male demeanours, laughing loudly and all, well I am not. I dress, speak and behave daintily, with utter femininity! By aping masculinity, I feel I am degrading my sex. Woman is different and not inferior to a man! Daintiness is my birthright!
This in no way means that I am vulnerable to male domination! Concealed beneath such gentle exterior is me, rational, tough, ambitious, and determined.
“I am too intelligent, too demanding, and too resourceful for anyone to be able to take charge of me entirely…” Simone de Beauvoir.
During my childhood, my parents made no difference between my two brothers and. We were given the same treatment, same food, love and education. The only difference being that I wore frocks or skirts and sported long hair, which I loved. Somehow, I did not take a fancy to pants and shorts. Time flew in childhood innocence and joy.
My first encounter with gender inequality was when I must have been around fourteen years old, and my mom firmly asserted that I was a big girl, and henceforth should not play with my neighbour’s son. We had almost grown up together, rambled in our huge garden, climbed trees, played hockey, went to school, and at times did our homework jointly!
My initial reaction was just shock! I had tried to reason that Piyush was my best friend, my childhood friend, how could I avoid him? My pleas were all turned down. Gender sensitization was slowly dawning on me. There were many things which my brothers could do but I was barred from. Hereafter, I was strictly told not to venture out alone, and if necessary I would be accompanied by an escort. While my brothers played and enjoyed, I had to help my mother in the kitchen and learn cooking. I intensely detested such domestic chores!
Later, when I completed my schooling, my mom suggested I join the local college for my Intermediate classes. My cousins had all done their education from here and after PUC had got married. They were all ‘successful’ married women now.
I was at my wits end! So that was the future my dear mom had chalked out for me? I had nurtured great ambitions for myself, BA English Hons and then MBA from a prestigious Business School. Hence, I firmly put my foot down and for the first time opposed my mom’s aspiration. No, I would never join that college; I was defiant. It was not up to my expectations! Most of my classmates were joining the popular Patna Women’s College and I too desired to do that.
My father supported me, my mom relented, but my aunties were adamant. How could I go to Patna, stay in a hostel? That was blasphemous! Girls in our community did not venture out for education. I could be spoilt, go to restaurants, and maybe visit discos. My marriage prospects would be ruined! But I was adamant, and my mom explained to my relatives that like my school, this college was run by nuns and rules would be strict about going out.
Eventually I won and joined the reputed Patna Women’s College, Patna. Of course, I passed my honours with distinction and easily obtained admission in Benaras Hindu University for my MBA. There was great dissent but I managed to have my way. My relatives were furious and labelled me a rebel! Naturally my mom was worried.
The real challenge came when I was offered a plum job of an Asst. Manager in a reputed company in Mumbai! The job was impressive and so was the salary. How could I refuse?
This time even my parents were firm and turn down my pleas. It was unthinkable to send me alone to a far-off place. Just when I was planning to give up, my paternal uncle came up with a surprise help. He had been transferred to Mumbai and hence I could stay with him and family! I readily agreed but mentally accepted it as a temporary arrangement. Thus I began my new life of career.
In fighting my way to higher education and a job, I had paved the way for my younger siblings and cousins. But it had always been hammered in me that my job was for my recreation, to earn a pocket money. After marriage, I must quit if it stood a “hurdle” in my domestic life! My World should be my Home and Hearth! All my activities ought to revolve on the welfare of my family!
My next battle sprung up when my parents insisted on my getting married. I consented on few conditions: first the groom should be from Mumbai as I had no plans of quitting. Second, there should be no offering of a dowry.
My granny was furious and blamed my dad of being too liberal with me. Fortunately, Providence seemed benign, and such a match was found. The marriage was solemnized.
In the beginning, life was a whirlpool of bliss. But once the honeymoon was over, life became a battleground of domestic chores. I would return home tired from office and my husband would beseech, “I am hungry. Fix something quickly.” The sink would be piled with soiled dishes! Gradually, I pleaded and then shouted at my helplessness. Could he not prepare something for himself? I too was tired and hungry. Why not get something from some restaurant? It was tough convincing him that kitchen work was not the ‘work of a woman’. If he lent a helping hand, we could be comfortable… blah blah. Sometimes he yielded, and sometimes was obstinate.
When I reflect, I find that my life has been one of a lone battle. However, thanks to my dear dad, who always supported me, I have been able to fight it out. In due course, my husband too changed and was accommodating in raising our two children.
This story is thirty-five years old. Of course, nowadays girls in my family have fewer obstacles. They can study and work anywhere, not only in India but also abroad. But it is still ingrained into their minds, that marriage is the ultimate goal in life. Others are all subsidiary! Well that’s another traditional thought that ought to be eradicated.
Image source: pixabay
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I am fascinated by the English Language and the wide range of synonyms! Nature is gorgeous and I find beauty in every little springs it has to offer. My another love is to mingle with read more...
Women's Web is an open platform that publishes a diversity of views, individual posts do not necessarily represent the platform's views and opinions at all times.
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Shows like Indian Matchmaking only further the argument that women must adhere to social norms without being allowed to follow their hearts.
When Netflix announced that Indian Matchmaking (2020-present) would be renewed for a second season, many of us hoped for the makers of the show to take all the criticism they faced seriously. That is definitely not the case because the show still continues to celebrate regressive patriarchal values.
Here are a few of the gendered notions that the show propagates.
A mediocre man can give himself a 9.5/10 and call himself ‘the world’s most eligible bachelor’, but an independent and successful woman must be happy with receiving just 60-70% of what she feels she deserves.
Darlings makes some excellent points about domestic violence . For such a movie to not follow through with a resolution that won't be problematic, is disappointing.
I watched Darlings last weekend, staying on top of its release on Netflix. It was a long-awaited respite from the recent flicks. I wanted badly to jump into its praise and will praise it, for something has to be said for the powerhouse performances it is packed with. But I will not be able to in a way that I really had wanted to.
I wanted to say that this is a must-watch on domestic violence that I stand behind and a needed and nuanced social portrayal. But unfortunately, I can’t. For I found Darlings to be deeply problematic when it comes to the portrayal of domestic violence and how that should be dealt with.
Before we rush to the ‘you must be having a problem because a man was hit’ or ‘much worse happens to women’ conclusions, that is not what my issue is. I have seen the praises and criticisms, and the criticisms of criticisms. I know, from having had close associations with non-profits and activists who fight domestic violence not just in India but globally, that much worse happens to women. I have written a book with case studies and statistics on that. Neither do I have any moral qualms around violence getting tackled with violence (that will be another post some day).