There’s always a certain standard to live up to when you’re a woman. And it’s a standard that’s often set by even the most casual remarks made over dinner, or at tea time with your neighbours, or even in classrooms. A stray “settle down while you’re young,” or “you earn more than your husband?” or “she shouldn’t wear those clothes” can go a long way in telling not just a few women but all women that there’s a certain acceptable way to be. Now many of us have realized we just don’t want to play this game any more. If we were to rewrite the rules, would things turn out pretty different? Well, that’s exactly what Twitter user @mentalexotica wanted to find out yesterday, by tweeting this to her followers:
If there is one piece of advice you could give a woman today what would it be?
— Luna (@mentalexotica) October 25, 2016
And people were quick to respond with really solid messages like this one:
Study hard. Make it a priority to be sulf-sufficient. Stop romanticizing male dominance and dependency. It isn’t cute anymore https://t.co/0n613ikn8e
— Amnaa Sid (@AmnaaSid) October 25, 2016
Users began to flood timelines with loads and loads of advice on a variety of issues that directly impact women’s lives.
@mentalexotica don’t feel guilty about choosing to be childfree
— Sunbloom Succubus ⭐️ (@suku06) October 25, 2016
@mentalexotica The construct of marriage and child rearing you’ve been sold is out dated and unequal. FIGHT IT
— Ayesha Sood (@ayeshasood) October 25, 2016
@mentalexotica don’t get married till you are financially independent. This is VERY IMPORTANT with Indian dynamics.
— Mugdha (@mugdhachawla) October 25, 2016
You do NOT need to alter any part of yourself for a man. You do you, you don’t need no male validation. https://t.co/oskkl6QQbB
— rohini (@lesqueerables) October 25, 2016
@mentalexotica stop apologising for who you are and stop trying to be what society wants you to be
— Vália Babycats (@livetimefe) October 25, 2016
@mentalexotica Don’t think twice about it. Chop off that hair if that’s what you want to do.
— Archana Ramachandran (@ArchanaRC) October 25, 2016
@mentalexotica You’re not a bitch/mean woman/horrible person if you say no.
— Poopriya 💐 (@supaarwoman) October 25, 2016
— Rhema Mukti Baxter (@FreakyLiterati) October 25, 2016
Don’t talk patronisingly to or about other women who have made choices that are different from your idea of “right” https://t.co/FAIktR1zUp
— BlueShwedShoes (@BlueShwedShoes) October 25, 2016
— Fuggles (@SausageTangdi) October 25, 2016
@mentalexotica claim feminism proudly. The movement may be why you are alive today.
— Maith Iyengar (@maith_i) October 25, 2016
It isn’t perhaps until you go through the entire thread that you realize just how much women are being held back. What no one usually tells you about conforming to the preset standard “woman,” is that it often means dialing back your freedom of movement, your freedom to make choices about your body (aesthetic or otherwise), and even your right to access economic equality. All of this creates an individual who is woefully dependent on male relations, and must often compete with other women for the few resources they are ‘allowed’ to have.
The downside to all the advice listed here, as good as it may be, is does lump all women into a single category. A woman’s class, caste, or race identity, their sexual orientation, whether or not they live with a disability – all of this determines if they are in a position to follow the advice. The ability to make decisions about your role in a family often has to do with what kind of power structure already operate in your family. Similarly, what kind of capital you already have at your disposal will influence what decisions you can take. Context is everything, and the responses in this thread likely come from women who have been able to walk their own talk.
Nonetheless, the women who do realize these pointers in their life will only be the better for it.