“So, are we equal? Until the answer is yes, we must never stop asking.”- Daniel Craig
Hard-hitting as this straightforward question may sound, we’d like to modify this claim a little more- “So, are we equal? Until this question is not asked, we must not stop fighting for our basic rights.” As dynamic, young women persevering towards getting our voices heard by the world, we find it ridiculous to be trampled upon knowingly or not.
The air of feminism may have chided the misogynistic currents in the warranted direction, but the winds of patriarchy are so deeply entrenched in our society that it becomes difficult to let go. As women, don’t you think we should be more celebrated and not berated? Our intention to write this post is not to go into an accusatory mode, but it’s a heartfelt plea to you lovely lassies to contribute to fostering an environment brimming with equanimity and integrity. Let out a boisterous ‘Aye’ if you agree!
We all have faced the riveting, brandished effects of patriarchy at some point in our lives. There’s been a strong UN (United Nations) outcry about the most prominent, macro-level issues such as inter-caste marriages, sexual preferences, and ‘equal pay for equal opportunities’ amongst other things. But, let’s not forget, our immediate ecosystem- individuals that we interact with on a day-to-day basis, mainly our families.
Ask a young girl who has been raised alongside a brother if she has ever felt discriminated against. Do not get us wrong, we believe that this sibling bond is a treasure trove, which needs to be cherished and nurtured through eternity. Sometimes, this bias is so subtle that you may not even recognise it. Traditional socialization taught us that pink and blue represented the binaries of ‘feminity’ and ‘masculinity’, respectively. While girls are meant to play with dolls and learn to manage a household one day, the man must toil and earn a living. Surely, things are changing, and society is accepting the idea of ‘sharing the load’. Kudos to all the feminists and androgynous brave hearts, who are helming these changing tides.
At the risk of going on a political and social rant, we’d like to ask a few questions:
- Why is there a prevalent glass ceiling for women to reach the higher echelons of their careers?
- Why is it mostly the woman’s prerogative to sacrifice her dreams and aspirations?
- Why is it formidable to restrict oneself to the accepted gender binaries?
- As an extension, why do we allow others to choose our right to love, date or marry?
- Is the sanctity of religion really maintained in today’s times?
Well, well! We could go on, productively channelizing our burning fire through our literary quest. However, through this article, while giving you all lovelies some musings to ponder about, we wish to spread infinite love and light. Guess, what’s the difference? We’re proud, courageous and capable of getting what we want without entering the war zone.
Feministic Fervor: Smashing the Patriarchy at Every Step
Rani Laxmibai, Sarojini Naidu, Mother Teresa, Kalpana Chawla and Indra Nooyi are just some of the phenomenal stalwarts in their own right, who have carved a glorious path for themselves, and once again proved that women can take on the world.
Before we prod any further, let’s get our concepts straight. Patriarchy as a deep-rooted tradition is a social system in which men hold predominant roles in political relationships, moral authority and special privileges, including patrilineal rights. Throughout the years, the latter has been reformed to give equal access to daughters in inheriting their fair share of assets, but the concern to address is if our older generation is really ready for it?
A lot of us are fortunate enough to have liberal and progressive parents, partners or just some form of support system. To those lucky ones, all we’d like to say is to hold them tight and be intensely grateful. In another thread, feminism merely refers to several movements that started to gain gender equality in the legal, economic, social, domestic and personal spheres of life. Starting before the pre-Independence era, this fight for equality continues.
Going on a nostalgic trip, an emotionally stirring advertisement was released a few years back, which wondrously provoked the inherent strength and endurance of a woman, a feat akin to an iron lady. A father visiting his daughter a few years after her marriage was appalled at how she truly was the one running the show at home. Displaying an ambitious, dual-earning, young couple this video clip makes us re-think our ideas of ‘equal partnership’. In a surreptitious monologue to himself, he is pained to see how as husbands or males, they believe it’s okay to simply sit in front of the television, and resign from the household chores. Why is it just assumed that it is the woman’s responsibility?
As parents or better halves, it’s time we speak up. These inequalities may be non-threatening, but we too can take a stand. To the future of our country, we’d like to advise that it is okay to cry, and not be stoic; it is okay to love how to cook (damn, we girls would love that); and while we may dig someone who is protective, but learn to change your mindset, which may objectify women. We’re not saying that all men deserve that! But doesn’t revolutionary change begin from home; from us?
Patriarchal Woes – Let’s Smash the Patriarchy
While there may be an array of issues that scream being biased against women, read on to know our top millennial picks.
- Let’s talk about Sex and Relationships: In this modern 21st century too, ‘sex’ is considered a taboo topic; a ‘behind the closed doors’ phrase. Only admissible after marriage, we wonder, why this basic need-based biological function is equated to the former. Did you know that it is harder for girls to deal with the repercussions of not being a ‘virgin’, as compared to boys? Here’s some food for thought- in the case of heterosexual couples, if we girls were to be oppressed in this regard, who will satisfy their counterparts? Probably, something we belles have grown up listening to is girls need to take care because “only they get pregnant”. Blasphemous much? To date, individuals of the LGBTQIA+ do not feel comfortable coming out to their close ones, for fear of being ostracized. Norms such as cohabitating after severely frowned upon, while monogamy is the way to go! Guess, it’s time for a roaring disclaimer- India identifies itself as a democracy. If so, then are we practicing the freedom to choose and express ourselves?
- Marriage: We’ve all watched regressive soap operas which have glorified the docile and meek daughter-in-law versus the mother-in-law dynamic. Fortunately, this is not entirely true today. Since childhood, we girls are taught to be obedient, and anything we do is somehow related to our impending marriage- a reality that we’ll eventually have to embrace. According to us, marriage is a holy culmination of two souls, till death does them part. Support, trust and compatibility are of paramount importance. Women are still objectified in many regards, and the redundant Netflix show, Indian Matchmaking (surely it was entertaining) proved that these atrocities exist today. The girl needs to be “slim-trim” and “flexible” are just petrifying claims. Well, as voiced by one of the mothers that she wanted someone to take care of her son, then isn’t she just enough? The seedier underbelly of the ‘marriage market’ and the matchmakers was there to see. We asked someone who went through a similar experience, and she finds the whole humdrum terribly funny. “I was talking to a guy who wanted me to work part-time after marriage. When he told me of the same, I cut the meeting short, and literally ran home. If my life partner cannot support my dreams then he isn’t worth it. Luckily, that was a one-off experience, and today families and potential suitors are quite open-minded.” Coming to the debate of love vs arranged marriage, in many households, the former is not promoted, as our elders don’t have a say. And, we’re all well aware of the effects of inter-caste or creed marriages, thanks to movies such as 2 States and Ishaqzaade. Believe it or not, honour killings are still a rare reality.
- Reproduction: Are you two or three years into your nuptials? Have you started facing pressure from your in-laws to try for a child because they want to spend some time with their grandchildren, while they are active? Hey, top this with we want to attend their weddings before we die! Did you just fall off with laughter while reading this? Chuckle some to the core, indeed.
4. Career Aspirations: Have you been told any of the following:
- Choose a profession such as teaching which is not very demanding.
- You will have to learn to balance your work and family life after marriage.
- Engineering and medicine are meant for men.
- Having a ‘respectable’ career choice is the key, and work is a hobby. You don’t need to be the breadwinner.
Whatever the intention may be, patriarchy runs heavily through our veins. Not only do this, but women who deserve and strive for success, often don’t get their dues. Their male counterparts are chosen for promotions, and the pay disparity is gut-wrenching. Maternity leaves tend to put our species at a disadvantage, but how is that fair? Also, can we not get started on sexual harassment and advance women face and are subjected to at their workplaces? Trailblazers in their own right, there are strong voices who don’t deter till they get their due. As a heart-warming gesture, Ranveer Singh readily accepted a lower pay cheque as compared to his ladylove Deepika Padukone during the making of Bajirao Mastani because her role was meatier. Bravo, you have our respect! It’s time we shatter the glass ceilings.
- Parents keep reiterating our biological differences: Hustling in our twenties, we’ve come to realise that being a girl is actually a blessing. Concerned for our safety, parents never leave an occasion to discuss their #vegenda! Contrary to popular belief, we’re no longer ‘damsels in distress’, but feisty forces. Flourishing in all walks of life, even today, many of us are expected to come home by a particular time at night and wear more ‘covered clothes’ because the world is a scary place to live in. From keeping them informed at all times, to indulging in mild merriment, we need to secure our reputation. And, any guesses why that may be? Marriage, of course! At some level, we do understand their concern because of an increase in the incidences of unwanted trauma such as rape and non-consensual sex. Speaking of our basic distinctions, how can we forget our constant companion, the period? Although isolation is not very common these days, slight hints of it are still seen. Young girls are still discouraged from indulging in rough and tumble play, while a man may be ashamed to buy sanitary napkins. This norm has transformed drastically for the better.
- Riding Solo: Most of us are crooning to this chartbuster by Jason Derulo, but we’re talking of a more millennial lingo- solo travel. Be it for business or pleasure, young men are encouraged to travel, see the world and experience life in broader arenas. When it comes to women, this notion comes with unsurprising hesitation. Taking the ‘don’t ask women for directions’ sexist adage, too seriously. Think again, then! Not only are women safe drivers (statistics 101), they’re amazing organizers and budget-friendly too. In a country like India, concerns like safety may arise, but thanks to several organisations, women too, deserve to fly.
Signing off, we’d like to put out a disclaimer that this is not always the scenario. Due to the tireless and unflinching efforts of our women heroes (sorry, heroines), our generation is blessed to live in liberal times, but certain fundamental ideas have a long way to go. As clichéd as it sounds,
“Roses are red, violets are blue,
Let’s smash the patriarchy, me and you.”
In unison, we will conquer!