Yes it is that time of the year again where we follow the mass exodus and join in the celebration of womanhood! It is International Women’s Day and not just that is is also a Happy Women’s Day. SMS’s and greeting cards and facebook and twitter posts remind every woman what a strong, independent, talented, beautiful person she is and what she is capable of. There are no limits to what she can achieve and the world is her playground. But is that really true?
Just take a look around you and you be the judge of what are the things I as a woman can be happy about? Let’s try to understand and answer a few questions
Celebration of womanhood
Limits have been set to what a woman can or cannot do even before she has had the chance to understand her own potential. As a little girl she has been told that she is different and therefore there is a set of different rules for her. She has to be careful about how she behaves, how she eats, how she sits, what she says and what she wears. And yet we are made to believe that we have the freedom to do whatever we want. Supposedly today is a day to celebrate womanhood, explore your feminity and more such colluded messages. But what is womanhood? What is feminity? Society has more colluded and confused explanations for these words. According to the dictionary
womanhood: the state or condition of being an adult woman and no longer a girl
So when we are told to celebrate Womanhood, we must rejoice no longer being a girl, which would mean that those restrictions that are posed on us as young girls would be gone? Sadly NO! Read the definition again, it says “adult woman”, which would mean any woman who is capable of making her own decisions. But is that the case? Yet on this day we are led to believe we can do whatever we please and we have complete freedom. Freedom, a big word again
The definition says freedom is power, but for women this freedom comes more as a courtesy from the society we live in. So yes women do have freedom but it comes with certain restrictions
- Of course you can party, but you have to be home before dark.
- Of course you can go out alone, but in broad daylight.
- You can hold hands with a boy, but only if you are married to / plan to marry him.
- You can be a working woman, but you must also cook.
- You can be a career woman, but you have to dress decently.
After the Nirbhaya – Delhi Gang Rape incident women have become only more insecure. Has this unfortunate incident changed anything? Has society learnt how to treat women? Has mentality of men evolved? Nope doesn’t look it. Rapes still happen. Women have to undergo assault, abuse, eve-teasing, most of the incidents are hushed up and women in many cases are left alone to deal with it. Safety of women now depends on time of the day and type of attire. Recently it was this video a female traveler took to defame a fellow traveler who wronged her by trying to inappropriately touch her during the flight.
Or this scene from the movie Highway, where Alia Bhat plays a girl who opens up about here sexual harassment as a child but is hushed up. There are so many of such cases where parents refuse to acknowledge such instances or girls are scared of bringing up such a dialogue with family fearing humiliation.
Think about it, we still live in a society where talking openly about sex is a taboo. But watching this scene was part of family entertainment on Sony’s Bade Acche Lagte Hain
As woman I am expected to survive in a society which is still coming to terms with concept of equality. Equal on grounds of religion and gender. Young boys need to be made aware of how to treat girls, and subsequently women. Our movies, TV shows have to stop objectifying women as damsels in distress and eye candy affair and truly talk about the brilliance of them. Stop patronising women for sacrificing, giving up their dreams and talents and instead be their support system and help them achieve those. I would be happy in a country we accept our issues and address them rather than simply impose bans. Where we feel proud of culture and heritage and in the name of the culture propagate atrocities against women. I want to live in a society where every woman has the freedom to act, express and voice on her opinion and not be subject to discretion by family, society and any one else. And it would be my appeal to all those who wished me and sent me the messages to wish me a Happy Women’s Day what they would be doing to change this situation. It would truly be a Happy Women’s Day when I won’t have to live through societal prejudice and hypocrisy, have to fear for my safety and feel the need to be protected.
Rabindranath’s verse would be a best quote for what I would have to say for women today should hope for in the near future.
Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.