This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Women, How Often Have You Dealt With These Nonsense Stereotypes?

More from Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan

Back in the day, when I was a single woman searching for a flat, I heard all sorts of things from potential landlords. But first, the broker told me not to tell them I was a journalist. “People don’t like journalists,” he said, but I think what he meant was people don’t like women who ask questions.

You might have seen that illustrated poster from the 80s: the ideal girl. The ideal girl prays and respects her parents and cooks. That’s the kind of girl these landlords had in mind, they didn’t actually want me for a tenant, so they tried to justify it. One of them said I could have no male guests. “In my own home?” I asked and they looked surprised. Sure, I was paying rent and living there and sure, I had a front door that locked, but it was never to be “my own home” just an extension of theirs.

Another had an outside staircase which led up to the flat they were offering. This staircase had a metal door, which they informed me would be locked by 10 pm. “I see,” I said, “And what about later?”

“If you want to come in later, you can call,” said the landlord, “But you won’t be coming in later.” Ominously.

All these are the stories when I actually met the landlord, the number landlords I didn’t meet were greater, the ones who rejected me out of turn for being a single woman. A single woman, the kind they used to call “modern,” the kind that smokes and eats meat and drinks, and occasionally has friends over and plays music.

Hi, I’m Aunty Feminist and here are three common stereotypes around that Unicorn but also The Girl Next Door: the Single Modern Indian Woman (SMIW).

1. All SMIWs Are Super ‘Promiscuous’

You’ve heard this one before. If a girl lives alone—and why should she live alone when her parents have a perfectly acceptable house—then she’s probably having orgies every night. At the very least, she’s swapping out men like underwear, one each for every day of the week.

Deepika Padukone GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Except, you’re not looking at the vast majority of women who move out of their parents’ homes for convenience (jobs), or because they want to be independent (heard of that?) or because they want more space. Some of them are having a lot of sex—and more power to them—but frankly, what goes on between two consenting adults is really none of anyone else’s business.

Besides, I’ve heard of the kinkiest coupling, and a lot of time, it’s done in tiny apartments shared between five family members. In truth, being an SMIW and having sex is hard, because you know what people expect of you so you need to set harder boundaries and limits, you know that everyone who comes to your door is subject to the scrutiny of an eye pressed against the peephole in a door (even as a non-S, but still an MIW, this has happened to me, when a friend carrying a bottle of wine made his way up our stairs, he was stopped by nosy neighbours asking him what his business was). It would be so much easier to just give up, to go back home and live with her parents, or get married or live the life of an Indian widow from the 1800s just so she can get on with her life and not have to answer a billion questions.

2. The SMIW Hates Traditional Indian Families

She’s out to dismantle the family as we know it. She’s the biggest enemy, and if it was up to her, there would be no families at all.

Well, for one, traditional Indian families have not always been the kindest to their women members. Made to cover their heads, defer to the men and not offer up any opinions is no way to live a life. Secondly, a lot of SMIW I know want to get married and have children, the whole picture. But, by virtue of this independence they’ve chosen, they don’t want to settle for anything that is less than ideal. And in a lot of cases, “ideal” is just the idea of being acknowledged as a person who has their own thoughts and ambitions. Not too much of an ask!

Deepika Padukone GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

3. The SMIW Has Lots Of Parties And They’re Full Of Drugs And Booze And Cigarettes

She’s a bad influence on her neighbours, and entering her home is like going to a really decadent nightclub.

Hello, have you heard of this new health craze that’s sweeping the world? The SMIW, more than anyone else, has the time and inclination to work on her fitness goals: she’s probably eating healthier than you, doing lots of exercise and still has time to meet her friends for a drink in evening. Even the unhealthy SMIWs know this much though: if your neighbours disapprove, your landlord will probably not renew your lease, so if nothing else, count on them for self-preservation. I, for one, have never been invited to a nightclub/orgy/cocaine-filled party at an SMIWs house, so there’s that.

Hema Malini Drinking GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

What are some stereotypes you, an SMIW or a friend to an SMIW have encountered? Tell me all about them in the comments!

Aunty Feminist loves to hear from her readers! If you’d like her to answer a burning question you might have, send it to us at or tweet your questions to @reddymadhavan.

You must be to comment.

More from Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan

Similar Posts

By Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan

By Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan

By Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below