I was asked to choose either being a traditional, responsible girl or a modern, happy-go-lucky one.
I was asked to choose my parents or the love of my life.
I was asked to be a house-wife or a working wife.
I was asked to be a writer or an engineer.
I was asked to be artistic or analytical.
I was asked to be controlled or impulsive.
I was asked to choose a secure, planned life or “some” life with my loved one.
Every time these things happened the ‘Or’ in the statement irked me to no extent. The choice has to be from within. If I am choosing between two things, it should be my decision and my intention. Why am I being restricted to this or that by someone else? As the question burned on as a flame, I started asking questions. Then came the reply, “A girl shouldn’t ask such questions.”, “Why are you talking like a boy?”, “Be a girl and be obedient.”, “If you keep talking like this, no one would marry you.” That was the last straw for me. So for someone to marry me, I should lock away all my thoughts and choose between two fingers that the society extends in front of me? I put my foot down then and there. All of these when I was a kid, as early as when I was about 8 years old. My parents didn’t understand at first and thought I was rebelling by asking questions. I don’t blame them for they were also molded products of society. Instead, I decided to make them see. I decided to make them understand that a girl can #UseHerAnd and take a stand. I kept proving my point time and again and slowly people who loved me truly started understanding me. They saw enough sense in what I was telling, to stop and try to understand what I am fighting for. And that was enough to keep me going.
Why do phrases like “Don’t cry like a girl”, “Be brave like a boy” and the like even exist? Do you not know enough women in the world who were/are braver than all men on earth put together? Of course, you do. Then why do you set up a bad example for your son, by saying “Don’t cry like a girl”. There in, you are planting a conclusion that girls cry and boys don’t. Teach your kids to deal with problems instead of stereotypes. Crying is just a form of expression and has nothing to do with gender. I’d rather have a man who cries when he feels sad than some guy thinking not crying is macho. The next thing that every human should be taught is not to label women. I am not the feminist who bashes all men and call for women equality options. I don’t even ask for special preferences to women. I believe by giving special preferences, you acknowledge that women *need* those special preferences and that implies a labeling or being objective. I don’t need that, we don’t need that. We need the mindset where a woman and a man are two individuals functioning to their capacity. Is that too hard?
When a woman breaks boundaries and goes beyond what’s normally perceptible, why is there even a question of her morals, her character, her personality? She is another person who achieved something that none others did. Can’t we just appreciate her for that and let her be herself? I know a girl who was elder to me by a few years. She was like a sister figure to me when I grew up and she was a brilliant artist, academic and a doting daughter. Her parents were in the traditional brought-up system and married her off once she finished 12th grade against her protests. A lot of us, friends and family told her parents to encourage her academic and artistic skills instead of curbing her with societal systems. But they didn’t understand it then with their closed minds. What happened? The guy she married gave her a child in a year and feeling that he had duly fulfilled his duties as a husband, he didn’t want any further responsibilities. He got influenced into drinking and gambling and stopped going to work. Now what would the girl do with a little one to feed and a drunkard for a husband? Her parents supported her a while, all the while regretting their decision, silently cursing themselves for pushing their daughter into this hell. One day she got fed up and called off the marriage. The idiot of her husband didn’t even want custody or anything with his son, not that she would have given him custody. A lot of people raised hell over that asking uncomfortable questions for her. She told all of them to shut up and took a stand. She took up part time jobs and started preparing for the government exams. Today, she is deputy Tehsildar (revenue administrative officer) for our district and well on her way to become an IAS officer. This is not a story I read somewhere. I saw her go through everything that she did and saw where she is. The day she stopped accepting the ‘Or’ thrust on her and took her ‘And’ out, she was free. Her son adores her and her parents see her for what she is. They have proud tears in their eyes and support her wholeheartedly today. Had this been done a few years earlier, she would have been spared the pain! Well, better late than never is what she says. And I am proud of her.
So girls, there is nothing wrong in putting your foot down for something you believe in. There’s nothing wrong in asking questions. There’s nothing wrong in breaking records and flying higher. And I have one thing to say to the society too, “We know what we are doing! We are not here to fight or rebel, that would just waste our time and energy. We are here to prove. I don’t want your ‘OR’, so stop shoving it in my face. If you can, wait and see me #UseMyAnd and take a stand, you’ll understand then. If you can’t, well it’s not my loss.”
Until later 🙂
P.S: I didn’t include the pic of the woman I have written about (as per the activity guidelines) since it is her option to retain her privacy.