“The emotional, sexual and psychological stereotyping of females begins when the doctor says- It’s a girl.”
-Shirley Chisholm (Former Member of the New York State Assembly)
Since the beginning of time, women have been denied opportunities at least once in their lives. To be honest, it has become a part of our lifestyle now. We are more astonished to hear the word ‘yes’ than ‘no’. A no from society is what we expect since it is all we have got growing up. No short clothes because you’re too fat or too skinny, no going out late at night because boys can’t control themselves, no working because you are supposed to take care of your family and household.
I feel that every religion has put us in a tough spot. Women are not allowed to perform the last rites of their close ones, no matter what the situation is. Some religions don’t allow women to leave the house without covering their faces. Women, when on their periods, are not allowed to enter the kitchen or prayer room. In some rural areas, they’re not even allowed to sleep with their husband in the same bed as they are considered impure while menstruating!
It is impractical, illogical, and completely inappropriate for women to be treated this way!
In our country, according to the annual report of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) in 2019, an average of 88 cases was registered daily wherein we only have records of registered cases; hundreds of complaints are not registered and out of those hundreds, 23% of women know their attacker. The most common reason given by the rapist is because she was wearing short clothes indicating that she was asking for it.
A famous comedian Vir Das once said, “The infinite beauty and fun of being a woman is if she’s asking for it, SHE CAN JUST ASK FOR IT!”
Indian actress Neena Gupta recently paid a visit to Gulzar Saab, a remarkable Indian lyricist to present him with a copy of her autobiography- Sach Kahun Toh, which was launched on 14th June by Kareena Kapoor Khan. She was trolled on social media just for wearing shorts adding revealing clothes into the controversial topic list.
She shared a short video on her Instagram page where she said, “Main apni book dene aayi hoon Gulzar Saab ko. I hope yeh pad le. Padhoge? Pad ke batana kaisi hai.” (I have come here to give my book to Gulzar Saab, I hope he reads it. Will you read it? Read and tell me how it was.)
However while she received praise from celebrities such as Anil Kapoor, trolls did not leave anything to chance. Soon after she posted, her comments were filled with trolls like:-
This stereotype that older women cannot wear short clothes is absolutely ridiculous! Even though we all have heard this an ample number of times by now, but for those who still haven’t got it through their thick heads- It is her choice!
We see older men (grandparents, uncles, fathers, etc.) in shorts and no one objects to them. But when an older woman wears shorts people feel attacked. Why do they feel threatened when they see a 60-year-old woman wearing shorts?
Why do we wear clothes? We wear clothes to protect our bodies. That’s it. But everyone’s clothing style differs according to their own comfort level. Some might feel comfortable wearing a tank top whereas some people might feel better when they wear a t-shirt; some might like skirts or shorts while others might prefer jeans or trousers. Bottom line is, wear what makes you feel good.
Hats off to actress Neena Gupta who with her fashion choice is standing up to society and its age-old norms!
Another person who recently stood up to patriarchy with her bold move was Indian actress, fashion designer and television presenter, Mandira Bedi. Bedi’s husband- Raj Kaushal, an Indian director passed away on 30th June 2021.
Even in times of grief, Bedi performed the last rites of her husband. With the earthen pot in one hand and holding the bier of her late husband with the other, Bedi carried out the entire ceremony.
Nevertheless, trolls didn’t leave her alone. When Mandira’s friends poured their hearts out with grief on social media, many people commented on her choice of clothing.
This wasn’t it. Some people also felt attacked when they saw Mandira, a woman, performing the last rites of her beloved husband.
In Hinduism, usually, the last rites are performed by the men of the family; where the eldest son is head of the ceremony, which is attended by men only. According to society, during the funeral and the ceremonies, the women who are present must dress conservatively, covering their arms and knees. However, there is no such rule for men.
When asked what other option she could have chosen instead of performing the rites herself, people stupidly said “she has a son”. The son being spoken about here is 10-year-old Vir Kaushal. Any 10-year-old would be heartbroken over his father’s death. Thus, Mandira Bedi did something any other mother would do, that is, protect her children.
Standing up to patriarchy, Bedi inspired millions of women all over the country.
These women have not only broken absurd stereotypes but are also inspirational. They teach us that we can be what we want to be, not what everyone else expects us to be. Kudos!