“One is not born a woman, but rather becomes one” -Simone de Beauvoir.
No biological, physical , or economic destiny defines the figure that the female takes on in society; it is civilization as a whole that elaborates the ‘intermediary product’ between the male and the eunuch that is called feminine.
Throughout childhood, little girls are bullied and mutilated, but they survive nonetheless. They think and grasp themselves as individuals, surviving only by thinking of their relationships with family and friends. When a girl is born, it is not just a new creation by god. With her is born a new family, many new beliefs and ideas, and even a new generation. The girl is raised in a community of other women, and so she has always been told that women are born to live, but their common end should always be marriage.
However, marriage should not be a thing that is imposed on her like the government imposes tax on goods. God has sent us all with different mindsets, different capabilities, and we are different in every aspect. If this is the case, then why are all women told to get married and rear children? Isn’t it our choice to decide if we want to get married or not?
Why do we need to get married? Is marriage a necessity of life? If yes, then why does this apply to women only? Even today, many villages across India still practice child marriage. The shared belief is that women are born to take their generation forward by binding themselves in matrimony.
Marriage should be the union of two people and two families. However, in India, marriage just means ‘kanyadaan’- which means giving away the daughter to someone else- as people believe girls to be ‘paraya-dhan’ (property belonging to another person). I have heard this many times in my own family. So, we are not some goods or items which should be given away to someone for a price (dowry).
When suitors and their families come to visit, they often try to clear the air by saying, “We are very modern, we will let your daughter continue her work after marriage.” They think that they should be applauded for this. But why? It is me who is ambitious, it is me who studied hard, it is me who is slogging at work to make more money than my male colleagues with the same qualifications, just that I am recognized for my efforts.
Why can girls not pursue their dreams? I have met many people in my life who will, at some point, suggest that I should choose a passion which is more suited to my gender, and where I might have a greater chance of success.
“Beti bachao, beti padhao” is a very fruitful slogan which had a great impact on society. Have we ever thought why we needed this slogan? In our society, parents owe debts to other people for their son’s education and their daughter’s marriage. In the same society, ‘आज्ञाकारी’ (obedient) is the most valuable title which is given to a women, as she is expected to follow everything the men in her life order.
When women have the freedom to do what they want, only then we can say that we have achieved ‘gender equality’. Before being someone’s daughter, someone’s wife, I am a girl who does not need someone’s name in order to establish my own identity.
When I passed the 10th standard in 2019, I was fully prepared to pursue arts and follow my passion, which was journalism. It was my own choice, not someone else’s. Journalism had been my dream for the entirety of the sixteen years of my life. I never thought that I would have to sacrifice something which meant so much to me.
When I told my parents that I want to pursue journalism, they were shocked. It was as if I had uttered something abusive or completely impossible. When I asked my father what is wrong with taking up arts and pursuing my dreams, he replied, “Do you want to get married after class 12?” I was taken aback. I did not understand the relation between pursuing arts and getting married. He told me that there is nothing for me to do after taking up arts. The only option open to girls who pursue arts is early marriage.
“What a curse it is to be a woman! And yet, the very worst curse when one is a woman is, in fact, not to understand that it is one.”
I was astonished, because I did not know what had happened to him. My father had always been very frank with us up until now; he had discussed everything with us, from problems regarding our studies, to helping us select our friends, and even talked to us about menstruation.
I felt that everything had changed. We had a fight about that, because earlier my father had told me that he would always support me no matter what I decide to study. My elder sister pursued her dream. She wanted to become a doctor and she is in the process to become one. What I realised in all this chaos was that our parents’ dignity is always way more important to them than their daughter’s happiness.
I fought but I failed. This is my request to all other girls: please do not become another version of me. Fight for yourself, for your dreams, and for your passion. Now I am studying science, but I never lost hope. My main goal is to reach out to women who at some point in their lives have been victims of any form of harassment. This article and my story is for all women out there, who are fighting for their passions, or are victims of domestic violence, sexual abuse, or similar.