I am not quite sure about the other countries, but in India, you suffer if you’re born a woman; in one way or the other. Yes, it is a blanket statement, might not be true for every single woman out there, but it is nevertheless true for the majority of us.
Being a woman, you are supposed to suppress most of your natural emotions and instincts, and if you don’t want to, you are expected to fight, fight for your right to express them.
It also depends on the kind of emotions/instincts you are trying to express. Some are acceptable, some aren’t. For example, emotions of love and care are romanticised, sacrifice is considered a glorified quality of women, no doubt, because these are the features a man gets benefitted from (not all men, though).
Talk about other aspects of a human being such as sexual desire or being selfish, being social with the opposite gender, all of which are aspects on which the human race has thrived and survived, but then, these are the bad qualities when in a woman Be ready to be bullied every time you try to express them.
These fights aren’t as simplistic as they might seem. In their journey, losing people around you and battling morality is a given, irrespective of how close or dear they were to you or you were to them.
It starts from your early childhood, when you help your mother/sisters in household chores while your brother plays outside with his friends. While you get up a hundred times while doing your homework to help in the kitchen, your brother sits next to your mother in the kitchen, studying, without any disturbance. It is also when he drinks milk for breakfast while you drink tea, when everyone knows his favourite dish but nobody knows yours. Nobody even cares to ask or feel the need to know.
It starts when your cousin brother can take a gap year in his education to score higher and get admitted wherever he wants while you are not allowed to do the same because you are a girl. You are rather encouraged to take courses like D.Ed or nursing. Just get any degree, who cares? Or become a teacher, a nurse, a good prospective bride for the future.
Education is not actually to educate you, dear women, but to make you a saleable commodity in the market of marriage. Then, you would be an educated wife educating his kids and taking care of his family using your education. You use your skills or knowledge to cook artistically, change the nappies scientifically, and teach Maths or English, for that matter, by talking fluent English to your kids.
Let’s talk about the topic less talked about.
Women and sex.
Every time you help a male friend or are kind to them, you are looked down with the suspicion of being a men-pleaser, whoever that man be, as if you are dreaming to sleep with every single man who crosses your path. A bus driver, conductor, vegetable seller, delivery guy, the minister, professor, whoever, it doesn’t matter, being a man suffice.
Be yourself in front of men and be ready to be tagged as “you invited it for yourself”.
You are not even allowed to roam around braless or wearing shorts in front of your brother or father. In your own so-called home. Body hair are looked grossly at. In case you haven’t shaved them, wearing clothes that might reveal them from under your arms or legs is a total no-no.
You aren’t allowed to have so many male friends and reveal it to society, else you are a slut. Have consensual sex with the man you like (and I’m not talking about cheating) and you’ll be called a loose woman having no control or having extra, uncontrolled sexual desire. A characterless woman.
Do that before your marriage and you bring down the pride of your entire family. Do it after marriage and you still bring down the pride of — now two families, yours and your husband’s, all extended families included. It’s not only in case of rape when they feel ashamed, it’s also when women of the family exercise their sexual rights when men and women of the family feel ashamed.
The pride of the family lies in the vagina of a woman (there is no scope of any discussion on why and how. it’s just unacceptable under any circumstance. Nobody cares to ask the man, that’s not even necessary).
Or is it that they feel at loss? A loss of control over women? And undoubtedly, their male ego of supremacy that gets hurt? But for how long? How long will you keep women under your rule?
Superficially, you may behave and portray yourself as the adviser of equality, but underneath, you don’t want women to raise their voice and be themselves, be it your wife, sister or daughter. When will you accept that all f them are humans, too? They have their own dreams, their own ways of living life, their own set of emotions.
For how long will you make them seek your permission to be themselves?
Cutting off ties is an easy way out because you don’t want to accept it. You don’t have the audacity to listen to their stories or even accept your own failure as a male, a father, a brother, a son or a husband. You failed to treat her at par. You failed to accept her as a complete human being.
Not all men are alike, but it’s rare to find one who practices equality. And those who do try to get bullied as well. They are called less of a man, impotent, mamma’s boy, an effeminate boy, and what not.
To break out of this system, one has to fight with n number of layers, starting from within oneself because patriarchy and sexism are so ingrained in us right from our childhood. For most of the time, women don’t even realise that they are being oppressed by the households we grow up in and the morals of society.
Some give up, choose to suffer silently, be happy in the false glorification of their roles; some fight back, losing their loved ones in the way, losing their support systems, losing so many people — but only to find a new set of people who are more liberal and accommodating, and who accept you and let you be you.
The journey isn’t smooth, but the destination is alluring, seemingly worth the sacrifices. Who knows?