Be ‘Lady-Like’: The Time I Was Schooled About Woman-Spreading

It certainly feels that I have been living under a rock all these years. And you will not believe me when I tell you that I heard about the term ‘woman-spreading‘. I never knew that there was a term for this.

Once, I was taking a ride in cycle rickshaw with a friend and she happened to mention that there is a certain way that I should keep my legs while sitting on it. We were in class 11 and I was nothing less than flabbergasted at my newly-found enlightenment. She further enlightened me about some more rules which she had learned from her friend. I listened intently but my legs were not so interested.

Our friendship went downhill after that incident and we started existing in different worlds. Now I wonder if I have woman-spreading to blame for this.

A little jog down the memory lane reminds me of another instance when I was reprimanded for the position of my legs. My maternal grandmother who dons the hat of the mother in my life pointed it out once or twice in my late teens. As expected from any sprightly teen, I gladly brushed it under the carpet. Luckily my grandmother had also better things to do apart from positioning my legs. Therefore my spirited legs were never bogged down by the need of being ladylike.

But what is ladylike and why do I need to be one? Am I not woman enough only because of the way I sit or stand? Am I being provocative when I look for my comfort and ease? Am I taking too much space in this men’s world in spite of being the weaker sex?

In my biology class, I remember studying that a difference of few genes causes different hormones and body parts in humans giving us majorly three possibilities – man, woman or intersex (for the lack of a better word in this learned society). Still, why do I need certain dresses, postures, mannerism, or makeup to be a ‘lady’?

There are many questions and few answers but, the good thing is people from around the world are asking questions. A woman from our neighborhood was one of them. She boldly announced the correct way to sit and caused quite a stir in her country

I sincerely hope someday we find answers, at least for our future generation, till then I will stretch my legs (with a lot of ingrown hairs) a bit and make room for others to do the same.

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