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When men label a woman as ‘sensible’, it isn’t always a compliment. What other words have been twisted out of meaning, to suit a man’s purpose?
My neighbour Martha is a hardworking woman. She is good at juggling a lot of things, be it minor plumbing work, carpentry work in the house, or homeschooling her kids during Covid. She is good at navigation, driving, and yes, housekeeping.
She is not single though. She has a cheerful husband who is fond of golf, bird photography, and catching up with his cronies every other evening at the Golf Club.
Unlike him, Martha even knows the medicine routine of his parents.
Everyone knows Martha or has at least noticed her. Maybe you have also witnessed her during your trip to the grocery store, where she is balancing five grocery bags in one hand and her child in another.
‘Martha is such a sensible woman!’ A man almost announced in the midst of a social gathering.
‘Sensible? How?’ I asked.
‘She never complains, throws no tantrums, and unlike most other women, doesn’t bug others for help in this and that. She knows how to manage things on her own.’
The man almost sounded envious of her husband.
So, if you are a hardworking mule, good at managing, are a non-demanding, non-troubling superwoman… and yes, always well-composed in public, then you are a Sensible Woman.
How many of you are this Sensible?
That’s another definition with patriarchal colours struck off from my dictionary today. Have you come across other such skewed definitions? Homely, mature, grounded, marriage type or Sada-Suhagan... What other dictionary terms has patriarchy adapted to its own twisted means?
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Vartika Sharma Lekhak is a writer based in India. She is the author of the
Mira Rajput, Though Your Words Were Badly Chosen, I am With You. Here’s Why
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