I inhabit a milieu which is, on the surface, egalitarian and progressive. The women I’ve grown up with and those around me (myself included)—we all have, or expect to have, successful careers of our own.
We dress fashionably, date freely, drive whatever we can get our hands on, and often talk back to our elders.
But we also think ten times before doing things we’d do with reckless abandon if only we were members of the male sex… That is, if we end up doing these things at all.
Stepping out after dark, for instance. Or drinking. Or playing certain sports. Or pursuing certain careers. We’re allowed to make fewer mistakes, if any.
We carry the added burden of being custodians of our families’ “honour”. We also carry the burden of looking attractive at all times, day and night, in sickness and in health.
To be attractive, in this case, means to fit into narrow, rigid, unyielding standards the British so generously left us with, or shall I say unleashed upon us, before departing for good.
We’re either too large or too tiny… Either too voluptuous or too “flat”. We are either slutty or matronly… too quiet or troublemakers. Always lacking in some respect, seldom just right.
Though it’s considered improper to say this out loud in “polite society”, it is undeniable that we grow up with the knowledge that we’re somehow less than. Parents have as many of us as it takes to finally have the coveted male heir.
We are the have-nots… The ones that lost the genetic lottery, and must now live with the repercussions of losing. Losing, however, was neither a deliberate act, nor a consequence of any incompetence on our parts. It was sheer luck.
In this case, a lack thereof. Anything or anyone exhibiting traits typically associated with us is fair game. “Too girly!” “Not man enough!”, “ew, gay!” or “weak”.
“Pussy”, a word which, anatomically speaking, ought to be an antonym of “weak”, has been reduced to a synonym thereof.
Our families, as well as society at large, take great pride in having given us “equal rights”, which, it must be noted, is not the same as a level playing field. Here’s why.
While they pat themselves on the back for having educated us and “allowed” us to work, they know when to stop… When enough is enough.
Lest we get drunk on the illusion of power presented to us as the real deal, and begin to see ourselves as equal to men. In order to ensure we don’t transgress, they simultaneously attack us with double standards and unrealistic expectations.
They do what they’re best at: they keep us in what they think are our places by employing the strategy of “divide and rule” i.e., by turning us against one another.
Woman versus woman. Sister versus sister. Mother versus daughter. Mother in law versus daughter in law. Sister in law versus sister in law. Friend versus friend. Colleague versus colleague.
Unfortunately, the list goes on. And when they see their designs succeed, they mock and condescend.
Even at work, we are constantly underestimated, and our credentials always suspect. Our hard earned successes are attributed to several factors, ranging from the ridiculous to the downright offensive.
The possibility that we may be meritorious and hardworking is overlooked. In order to be half as successful as our male counterparts, we must work twice as hard.
We’re thus, brainwashed into silencing, and imposing limitations on our own selves… Into doing their dirty work for them, so they need not bother. How efficient!
As far as they are concerned, marrying us off is considered the best course of action. We must be transferred from one set of masters to another without any further delay… With “gifts” in tow, of course. These may be in cash or in kind, and “nothing” is not an option.
Fortunate are those of us, who can choose whom to marry. Even rarer, and more fortunate, are those of us, who can choose whether to marry in the first place.
Now, on to the much awaited subject: that of offspring. Preferably biological. Preferably multiple. Preferably male.
With motherhood being mandatory, akin to an unavoidable right of passage, “none” is not an option.
If we’re beaten, raped, and/or abandoned, needless to say, we’re to blame. No matter what we wear, what we do, what we say and how we say it, they’ll gang up on us. They’ve been wronged, after all, their “honour” compromised.
No matter the physical, emotional, psychological, legal, and financial hell they’ve set us up for and put us through.
And who are “they”? “They” aren’t all men, nor are all of “them” men. “They” are too many men, even too many women. There are, however, enough of “them” to make sure the world remains as cruel, as unequal, and as unfair a place as ever.