Lashing Out

The Norms Have to be Challenged

Here’s my list of what is to be expected from the Indian society about girls and women. I’m sure that these scathing, reproachful words would have been hurled at most Indian women or their parents at some point in their lives. I am an Indian, but that does not hold me back from being ashamed at “The Indian Perception” of how a woman’s life should be.

“You’re expecting? That’s great news, only I hope this won’t be a girl again”

“Oh no! A girl child! Wonder what I’ve done to incur God‘s wrath”

“Girls can’t do that. It’s a boy thing”

“Dress modestly. There’s a reason why our culture defines Saree, dupatta and other traditional wear.”

“They wolf-whistled and passed a few comments when you walked past them. So what? Just don’t pay attention”

“Your curfew begins at 6. You better get home before that or there’ll be hell to pay”

“Why the traffic so backed up! No wonder, it’s a woman behind the wheel.”

“A woman’s place is in the kitchen”

“But she’s a girl! Why bother to pay so much for her education! Remember, You’ll have to spend even more to marry her off”

“Women aren’t just cut out for certain jobs. Family should be your first priority”

“Can’t have no peace of mind until daughters are married off”

“No one asked for your opinion. Just do what you’re told”

“The only way you’re going abroad to study is to marry someone who’s settled abroad”

“Why do you need to have a job? The best job for a woman is to be a good housewife”

“You have to be a good cook. How will you feed your family otherwise!”

“You just can’t go out alone. Ask your father or brother to accompany you, or the neighbours will talk”

“He can go out with his friends as and when he pleases. No, it’s not the same. You are a girl”

“Men are like that. It’s up to the women to ignore all these”

Here’s the bottom line,

“Carte blanche will continue to evade women

This is just the tip of the iceberg that is female repression. The bias and the reprimands commence the moment they are born and will remain to pester them for God-knows-how-long. No girl or woman should have to be scared by the scathing comments. I wish that most parents, like mine, would have the audacity to stand up for their daughters, albeit there’s only so much they can do before they are in the grip of regression. It’s so goddamn unfair. It just keeps coming on, and on. But may God help any unfortunate daughter(s) of ML Sharma and AK Singh, if at all there are any. The repulsive mindset and spiteful comments made by these defense lawyers have incensed many.  And of course, to top it all, there is no provision to sue anyone over these insensitive, callous remarks.

The “society” just can’t keep its mouth shut for long, and it sure as hell don’t know where to draw the line. We might go on at length about our rich culture, traditions, and heritage, but pity that the same can’t be said about what’s taken a turn for the better for the women. It’s high time that women are given the respect that they deserve. Actions speak louder than words, yet few measures are in place to curb the rising atrocities against women. We might be a developing country, a force to be reckoned with but sadly the outlook on women is rather passe.

Women are not meant to be sidelined or silenced. The life of no woman should be confined to the four walls of a kitchen. It’s as much a man’s job as it is a woman’s to take care of a family. Careers are not restricted to just the men. Nothing and absolutely nothing can justify eve-teasing. Women might not have an upper hand when it comes to physical strength, but that’s not something to be taken advantage of. And no woman needs to be taken care as if she were as frail as a flower! Being out on the streets late at night is no yardstick for a woman’s decency.

There’s more to empowering women than starting with boys, as endorsed in this short film promoted by #VogueEmpower

The key to women empowerment to change the conservative mindset, which is easily said than done. A change is inevitable but it’s not something that can happen overnight. The social media is ablaze with several questions being raised about the status of women in India, an aftermath of BBC’s telecast of “India’s Documentary”. It might take a host of government reforms, even a revolution but I can’t wait for the tables to turn. (I’m just not going there. To write about the documentary and its aftermath, the ban and the wave of sentiments that ensued would be best left for another post.)

This is all I have to say to the Indian women – We have to stand our ground, refuse to be intimidated by the regression that’s threatening to diminish our worth. The society can talk all they what, but it’s not up to them to decide how we choose to live our lives. We have to react to anyone and anything that annoys us. Silence is not an answer, it’s what stands between us and our rights. We cannot sit back and let the society undermine us. Speak up for your rights. Dare to Challenge the Norms.

© 2015 Shweta Suresh. All rights reserved.

Image courtesy: Pixabay

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