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A Bad Girl is labelled so only to control women’s sexuality by a society afraid of it, in the garb of ‘protection’ to ‘good girls’ which we all now know is nonsense.
A patriarchal culture always raises girls with a certain ‘Good Girl’ template, which is essentially one that cuts her off from knowing her own sexual desires or sexual power until she is well and ‘safely’ married. She is denied any sexual autonomy until her wedding night.
Girls who break this rule are relegated to the ‘Bad Girl’ template. She is slut-shamed, other girls are dissuaded from being friends with her, and just in case all this is not enough to ‘keep her in line’, her family too is besmirched. She’s made such an example of that other girls will think twice before emulating her.
We all know, through whispers and rumors, such girls in our schools, colleges, workplaces. We may have toed the line drawn by patriarchy and shamed and boycotted and made fun of, and gossiped about such girls ourselves, without thinking for a second about the narrative that the patriarchy has been feeding us.
Perhaps we have been that girl ourselves? Been the target of such gossip just because we indulged in our sexual desires before we were ‘given permission’ to do so?
Of course, all this ‘protection’ was to keep us ‘safe’ from sexual predators (predominantly male, of course).
Ironically, even a fully arranged marriage may not guarantee ‘safety’, as well we know with the prevalence of marital rape the world over.
What parents, or society, don’t realize is that it is a woman who is in touch with her sexual power, who knows who she is and what she wants, who will be the most difficult to manipulate, fool, or sweet-talk into bed.
If she does let any one in, she does so fully consciously, out of her own volition, and not out of manipulation.
A ‘good girl’, on the other hand, is sheltered from the outside world and also cut off from her own inner knowing. She is ‘protected’ from outside influence but is also shielded from the guidance of her own wise self.
‘Good girls’ are absolutely clueless on how to protect themselves from men who are no doubt out there prowling for ‘innocent’ women. Here, innocence will not save you. Sexual empowerment will.
Women in our society are so cut off from their own sexuality that they see themselves as some sort of a prize that has to be unwrapped only for one man, for their husband, for only him to ‘enjoy’ for the rest of her life. What about her enjoyment?
If they do fall for the wiles of a manipulative man and have a sexual experience before marriage, they feel guilty and believe that unless they marry that man himself, they are ‘spoilt’ for life and so are unworthy for any other man. This makes them willing to do anything to marry that man, even manipulate him into a marriage which may not be good for her, even knowing he’s not interested, just because they think that now they are ‘spoilt’ and not worthy of any other man.
The point is, would a woman whose self respect derives from more than the concept of virginity marry a man who doesn’t love her, just because she had sex with him?
Would women be less likely to feel guilty, and less likely to be manipulative themselves, if they saw sex as natural and themselves as deserving of pleasure?
Would women more real self esteem if they did not see themselves as just a candy that is offered to a man as a gift on the wedding night?
Would women be more free to actually enjoy sex if they saw themselves as sexual beings capable of enjoying sexual pleasure and not something that exists purely to provide sexual pleasure to a man?
Would women be less likely to be manipulated and less likely to fall for the ‘wrong’ men if they were more in charge of their sexuality?
Society will always be worried that this kind of ‘free thinking’ will result in women who are more ‘promiscuous’.
But ironically, it is women who are sexually empowered who are more likely to be conscious about their sexual choices.
Even if she chooses more than one sexual partner over the course of a lifetime, it will each be a conscious choice, thus making it more likely that she will choose a man who is worthy of her.
But does it matter whether that is a string of one-night stands, a string of flings, or one man for a lifetime?
It actually shouldn’t, if the choice she makes is without guilt, no regrets, with full pleasure, and full-on self respect.
But for the patriarchy, it still matters.
Author’s note: Having a world which supports women like this is a hypothetical utopian fantasy. I know that a patriarchal society will never support a woman to be sexually free, aware, and empowered because it is afraid of women know their power and their worth and their self.
But still, we can dream.
Image source: stills from the films Piku and Drishyam 2
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Karishma has been writing short stories since she was 8 and poetry since she was
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