Please Don”t Turn Off the Lights: An Account of the Deeply Entrenched Sexism in Our Society

Posted on May 9, 2012 in Society

By Bhavna Mittal:

I was watching an episode of Mad Men, an American television series set in the 1960s. Using advertising as a background, the episodes explore the changing trends of the society during that decade. There is a lot of smoking, drinking and depravity in the lives of the male characters but the issue that bothers me most is the sexism. Most characters stray outside their marriage, any woman trying to speak her mind is met with opposition. Though, there is a parallel story line of a female character, Peggy, becoming the first female copywriter at the Ad agency, it doesn’t suffice for all the sleeping around by the men. I shudder to think that a world like this actually existed, and in our country still does to such a large extent.

In one of the episodes, the men watching two young girls from afar- comment on the sheer allure of the youthful glow. They laugh about how it almost seems as if someone turns off the light once the girls reach the late twenties. That sentence perturbed me; I actually went to the mirror and kept looking at myself, wondering if I still had the so-called youthful glow till I realized how asinine my reaction was. But I would be lying if I said I wasn’t bothered at all. I was angry at myself, an educated girl like me should know better than this; I was angry at the men in general, for getting a better deal yet again- don’t women swoon over Clooney as he gets older? But most of all I am angry at the society. The scene was set in the 1960s but it is so relatable to the Indian scenario today. I am furious at the community members who set age limits for women. I am constantly told about how if a girl delays the greatest milestone of her life- her marriage- she is defying God, culture, her parents and her duties as the fairer sex.

Post 25 and you are a gone case, like a carton of milk spoiled after the expiry date; are they also referring to the loss of youthful glow? Of course the loss probably happens to a certain degree- but it’s obviously not as extreme as turning off a light. It just seems too cruel a sentence, as if one is writing off the girl. Beauty may fade but that doesn’t mar her charm. Ok, so maybe she isn’t the Sirius but don’t compare her to a shooting star either, she isn’t debris and dust.

Why do we forget that while all girls her age were marrying by choice or under coercion, she chose to tread her own path? She is aware of the ticking biological clock but she also knows that a marriage has to be felt right rather than be scheduled at the right time. And truth is not every married woman wants to be a mother, it’s just another unfortunate issue that the society thinks it must keep an nmarried woman from following her maternal longings.

So for now, let her live, let her be, let her choose what to do with her life and schedule it as per her desires. Look a little beyond the lost glow- you might just notice the candle still flickering in the wind with way more gusto and might than the shielded lamp. It’s not time for Lights Out yet.