This kind of eulogising of a woman who wears only a saree and being sanskaari is why questions about Sonia Gandhi trigger the feminist in me – just let women be and keep off!
In the context of Arnab Goswami questioning Sonia Gandhi’s ”Indianness” I have seen a lot of posts cropping up in her defense. I have seen posts saying she’s ”an Indian first and an Indian last”. I have seen posts calling her a ”complete Indian woman”. Posts praising her for only ”wearing Indianness” (sarees) and for having qualities such as ‘’compassionate behaviour, inner strength, strong mindedness, self-sacrifice’’, etc.
These posts triggered me, made me angry.
I had to stop and ask myself, why?
Answer: Because it exposes the patriarchal mindset that is so insidious you don’t even recognize that you have it.
Let’s imagine this hypothetical scenario:
Sonia comes to India after marriage. She chooses NOT to wear a saree. She instead wears the western clothes that she grew up wearing. Dresses, skirts, trousers, pantsuits, etc. She shows her legs. Even if she wears sarees, let’s say she doesn’t cover up her waist with her saree or wear long blouses that cover even her waist (as she always does).
Let’s say she likes wearing sleeveless blouses or backless ones. Would you still be proud of her as an ”Indian woman”? Even if she still showed all the other qualities that make up an Indian woman for you?
Talking about these so-called qualities of an Indian woman. Only qualities like compassion, soft-spokenness, inner strength, sacrifice, and simplicity is praised. But let’s imagine that she also showed boldness, aggression, ambition, glamour, sexiness…would she still be considered a complete Indian woman?
Your idea of the ‘Indianness’ of a woman is BS
That a woman is still expected to completely forget her birth family’s culture, dressing, food, habits, etc., and adopt her husband’s culture, dressing, food, and habits. Only then will she be considered ‘’worthy’’ and certified as a ”good” woman.
What, exactly, are these ‘womanly’ qualities so revered?
That a woman is appreciated only when she expresses qualities such as compassion, sacrifice, strength, simplicity, and soft-spokenness. But what about other human qualities like anger and out-spokenness, brashness and boldness, sexiness and lust?
If you are a human, don’t you have all of these in varying degrees? Why are women denied the expression of these qualities? Why are women discouraged from expressing any of these by being called bitches or sluts and made out to be an example to other women of ”what not to be”?
I know most men (and some women) may not get why this triggered me so much, why this rant. If you are wondering why I am ”making such a big issue out of nothing” then it is because you have not had that lived experience.
In India, even if your family is highly educated and privileged, there is a certain amount of tone policing, moral policing, dress policing, attitude policing, food policing, sexuality policing, and personality policing that happens to women that is nothing short of OPPRESSION.
Most women don’t realize this, ever. But there are others like me who wake up and smell the patriarchy, and can never go back to sleeping again.
And that is why I will call out posts like this. That is why I get triggered. That is why I am angry.
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Karishma has been writing short stories since she was 8 and poetry since she was
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