*When I want to share my experiences-thoughts-opinions here it brings a few restrictions on how much information I share. I do wish sometimes to have an anonymous blog but then I do not like to read things that are written anonymously, it takes courage to own up to what you write. In this post I am trying my best to convey a point without revealing too much information as there are other people involved as part of the experience.
Scene 1: Lady L is praising a female F who happens to be married to a person living in a joint family. 'You know Rasika, in her new house F cooks for 10 people and is not even allowed to eat until the elders finish their meals. F is so courageous, she is dealing with it amazingly'. (F in this scene is highly educated and married into a rich family).
First of all I couldn't believe my ears then I had doubts if I was still in the year 2016 or had time traveled way in the past. After a few seconds of shock I said to L 'You know what would be courageous? It would be to say 'I am a doctor (profession changed) and I am not going to spend my life cooking for 10 people, let's all take a few responsibilities each and also I will eat/drink and do things when I want to'.
L was flabbergasted. I could see it in her eyes that she didn't think of my opinions highly. I could see myself getting tagged as a mad woman.
Lets's forget about F for a second, we don't know her side of the story, she may be on the verge of rebelling against things. I get frustrated at women who are of type L. How much ever one tries to convince them they don't understand that they are equals, they are their own masters and so are the other women and all humans. They are stuck in the norms of 'gender roles' dictated by the society. These women badmouth those who are living on their own terms without being succumbed to social pressures.
I was raised as an equal by my parents, I did not know there exists inequality based on genders until I saw the outside world. Obviously there are women who are not brought up in such environment and they take daily insults and controlling by others as a way of life, so 'eating when you are hungry' is revolutionary for them.
Scene 2: I encountered the characters like in scene 1, no really! they do exist in the world. One day at a dinner party a man asked me to stop eating, I looked around and to my surprise it was only men who were having dinner. I am not talking about an uneducated family here, they are all (including women) highly educated and working people. Have you encountered this in India that the women eat only after men are done eating?
Without worrying too much I continued with my dinner. What is the worst that could have happened? They would have thrown me out or tagged me as stupid? Who cares what these kind of people think about us…?
I understand that many women do not understand that they even have a say in things but then there are women who understand it and still keep quiet. In my observation they keep mum because they worry about their image. They do not want to be tagged as a bitch, they want to be revered. According to the society only sacrificing motherly obedient ladies are respected and they would rather adhere to the norms than being called names.
(I could write many more scenes but then it will be size of a book ;-) I will stop here as you get the gist).
I stopped celebrating Bhaubij, Rakhipaurnima/Rakshabandhan, Padawa and such where the men are worshiped and in return women get gifts. No wonder men get an ego boost since childhood as they see women worshiping them every now and then. I don’t want to have it the other way round too, nobody is worshiped and nobody is a doormat is the ideal scenario.
When I asked an eight year old girl why do you celebrate 'Bhaubij' and worship your brothers why isn't it the other way round? her answer was simple 'I asked my mother the same thing but she forces me to do it'. So even an 8 year old sees and understands inequality. Though her soul requires seeing, the culture around her requires sightlessness. Though her soul wishes to speak its truth, she is pressured to be silent. Pressure is to be adequate in whatever manner the authority, the culture or traditions define it.
From the time girls are toddlers they are taken captive and domesticated. Strong willed girls are told they are wrongheaded and improper. Generally suffering starts at an early age at no fault of their own and is caused by the cruelty of ignorance or intentional meanness of others. The basic self of the psyche is wounded early on. When this happens, a girl begins to believe that the negative images her family and culture reflect back to her about herself are totally true. The girl begins to believe that she is weak, dependent, unacceptable, inferior and that this will continue to be true no matter how hard she tries to reverse it.
Don't impose traditions/culture on your daughters just because you yourself were a victim, because you didn't have the courage or were not allowed to speak your mind. This is 2016 and we are still fixated on raising goddesses. I don't care if the world calls me a bitch, I take pride in having my own mind and the fact that I don't let others dictate what I do with my own life.
There was a time when women were not allowed to go to school or vote. (I am glad that I was born in India because the situation for women is worse in a lot of other countries). We have come a long way. In today's time I feel many of us are rising up and acknowledging that there is a better way, a way called equality. We are changing but the momentum is slow. As we grow and become our higher selves, we need to send out ripples of change to those around us. The possibility exists that without protests a revolution will happen and another significant shift could occur in our lifetime...