Let’s talk about conditional demands. Well yes, let’s also talk about how in India, if a woman speaks up for gaining full control of her life then she is “too demanding”. But first, say hello to the meaning of the word “demand”. Demand means an insistent and peremptory request, made as of right.
This means that demand stems from a right and right stems from freedom. Freedom is not gifted but is rather given to people as soon as they’re born. It’s the patriarchal society the teaches and conditions men and women that some genders particularly women need to “fight” for their basic birthrights.
Let’s take a look at Maslow’s needs of hierarchy and how they are completely rejected by the patriarchal society when it comes to a woman’s perspective. Don’t get me wrong. I am not blaming Maslow, I am simply pointing out how patriarchy is dissected and conditioned when it comes to the rights of women.
Take the basic and physiological needs of Maslow’s diagram where he discusses the basic bodily needs such as food, sex, clothing, shelter etc. Those that are not met in a woman’s perspective and if some needs are (sexual particularly), then all we get is sexist judgement. For example, if a woman is having her sexual needs met, she is often termed too “sexual”; if she is having too much “food”, she will grow to be fat and ugly, while she is also expected to eat too much and feed her man. Similarly, her clothing aspects too are limited in some cultures and she is forced to cover her body fully, against her wishes.
She is supposed to wear clothing according to a man according to what men find provocative, safe and sound. This means covering up even her armpits and even legs.
When it comes to Safety needs, and the personal security of a woman, she is not supposed to feel safe. She is expected to silence her voice when she becomes the victim of molestation. She is brainwashed into not filing a report under the name of “shame” and if she does, she first has to be judged on the length of her clothes and whereabouts. She is supposed to be leading on a man, for even molestation.
When it comes to employment, she is supposed to only follow “respectable careers”, and justify her salary at home. Bring in the money and give it to her in-laws rather than spending some on self -care. She is supposed to fight all the resources, financially, mainly and even if she manages to do it, she gets judgement there. Sunny Leone is one such great example who was initially facing judgements for the choice of her then career, pornography.
When it comes to property, yet another of Maslow’s needs, she is not given any unless her husband dies. For your information- she isn’t allowed to touch that property for her educational needs, travel (for work) needs, she is just expected to remain a silent partner for signing the documents. And if she says no to all of this- well then she is labelled as “too much” or “too demanding’ and her needs are labelled as “conditions”.
Get this:(personal metaphorical reference) – Ankit can become Ankita but Ankita can’t be Ankit (meaning that a man can do anything that he wants and not get shamed for it. Do you think that this is all fair? Do you think women demand too much? Think again. Demand as per Google’s dictionary is a request made up of rights. And come to think of it our demands which are a result of our rights, have never actually been met until we don’t take everything by storm.
When it comes to Maslow’s Esteem needs that talk of love and belonging needs, that entails family, female friendships, and more, are they fulfilled? NO. Women are judged by women themselves in India. On the topic of female friendships, some female friendships are born out of pure jealousy that sometimes turn into a competition. Although that has improved now, all thanks to feminism and the education that comes with it.
In the family, she is expected to have kids, and even she doesn’t, she is blamed. A family for some people, could only be the presence of the partners, for some it’s the need to have kids, and for some couples, family means just them and their pets.
But as women, we are made to feel that we need everything in order to have a “perfect family picture’. Amidst finding and building all of this, do we pay attention to our personal connections? No. And are these connections valuable? No. Up until today, women are disrespected if they show their skin or even if they are comfortable in her own skin.
Lastly, when it comes to Maslow’s esteem needs, do women have that at least? No! Brown women are still discriminated against because of their colour. Remember that women are made to feel “less beautiful”, “less worthy”.
Coming back to the last need of Maslow’s hierarchy, Self -actualization needs, women are judged there too. Their potential is considered to be limited, their creative activities are called out to be “obscene” or “not real”. Take Miley Cryus and Alia Bhatt here as examples. They are both women who once were expected to do stereotypically beautiful roles of beautiful women because they had feminine features that made them attractive. But they decided to break those stereotypes and when they did, they were labelled as “stupid”, “too bold” for it.
When it comes to personal security, we want less judgement on how we dress and live and more work on fast-tracking our FIRs.
When it comes to employment, we want equal pay, more health-care leaves and the best of opportunities to be the kindest of bosses we can be and we want the slut-shaming to stop. When it comes to reproductive needs, we want to take care of our own vagina, our sexualities and we want better birth control methods.
What we need is support and no judgement and no labels. And if they are labels, we want to take ownership of those labels ourselves. Let us choose our own labels or not.