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Irrespective of how talented a woman may be, there are always those who seek to put her down by comparing her to others. Can we build women up instead?
The video for the song Ghar More Pardesiya from Kalank was released recently. It is truly fantastic. The visuals are stunning. Shreya Ghoshal, ably accompanied by Vaishali Mhade, sings like an angel. Madhuri, even though she doesn’t dance, makes her presence felt, just with her expressions and body language. Alia’s dancing is both graceful and fierce.
That however, isn’t enough for some. While there are some who are appreciative of Alia, there are also comments that compare her to Deepika Padukone, Aishwarya Rai or even to Madhuri. That just left me wondering –why? Each of these women have their own grace and own style. Why must we pit them against each other? Can’t we just enjoy each performance for itself?
“But, VJ,” you may say, “you’re overthinking this. Such comparison is normal.” And that’s exactly my point. It’s a very toxic thing to normalize.
It’s not just celebrities either. Look around, and you will find women you know personally, being compared to another woman for everything from their weight, to what they chose to cook for dinner, to their major life decisions.
A young woman, recently married, confided to me about how her in-laws always compare her to their daughter. Another woman, on an H4 visa like me, shared how some of her friends compared her to themselves, and told her that she was “wasting her life and talent.”
The truly heartbreaking thing is that we start to internalize this, and start comparing ourselves to women around us. We cut ourselves down, and become resentful of other women. I know too many brilliant and intelligent women, who are left depressed and anxious, their idea of their own worth having been destroyed.
It’s easy to say that one should not pay attention to such comments, but sometimes this is all women hear. It is difficult to ignore something that is such a constant presence in one’s life.
As far as possible, I try to lead a life that does not require me to depend on others. I have a great fear of driving, however, and it is the one thing that I completely rely on my husband for. Needless, to say, that there are plenty of people around me, who are eager to point out this “shortcoming.” “Look at X. She is not even a city girl like you, and she knows how to drive,” they say.
I am self-aware enough to realize that this is an area that I can work on to better myself. I also do question, however, why these people don’t just as easily go around comparing the men, with regards to their cooking skills, or how much housework they do, for instance.
When we pit women against each other, it distracts us from fighting the things that are really wrong around us. It prevents us from questioning inequality and abuse. It blocks change and maintains the status quo.
Alia is Alia, Deepika is Deepika, you are you and I am I. And we are all fabulous, just as we are. Now, let’s go smash the patriarchy!
Image source: a still from the movie Kalank
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Rajshri Deshpande, who played the fiery protagonist in Trial by Fire along with Abhay Deol speaks of her journey and her social work.
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