This contest was announced in Indus ladies and found its way to my gmail account.
“A Women plays a variety of roles in her life - daughter, sister, wife, daughter-in-law, mother, grand mother, employee and so on. Your blog post can address any particular angle with regards to those roles. Which role is the most important? Which role is she over-indexed on? Which roles limits her the most?......”
The minute I finished reading this, the first thing that popped in my head was the saying,
“A woman is like the water that takes the shape of the vessel it rests in”. I kept thinking of all the different roles women play and what can be considered the most important one…then it occurred to me the most important role is not even mentioned in the contest. The role, of being a woman. Yes, just a woman. Water in a jug, a pot, a kettle or even a glass is still first and foremost water which essentially quenches our thirst. Often the Indian woman gets so involved in playing all these roles to the best of her abilities that she forgets what it is to be a woman.
As a woman, I believe our first responsibility is to understand and stand for our kind. Let me elaborate. How many times have we heard about the cruel mother in law, the mean sister in law, the woman yearning for a son, the mother who favors her son more than her daughter, the women friends who scorn a divorcee, the female boss who gives no quarter to her female subordinates and so on? The list is alas never ending. There are so many instances when a woman turns the worst enemy of another woman. She does so by succumbing to the system of “patriarchy” and the general rules that our society lives by.
This system makes mothers bring up their daughters and sons to believe
1. The daughter is always “paraya dhan” and her entire childhood is about how she can find a good husband and then cater to his and her “real” family’s needs.
2. Sons are important to take the family name forward and hence her foremost duty is to provide a male heir.
3. A woman must always put her husband’s and his parent’s needs before her own.
4. It is her duty to ensure the happiness of not just immediate “real” family but also extended “real” family like sister-in-law and her in-laws. The good name of the family rests on her fragile and already tired shoulders. Any behavior that is not acceptable will bring shame upon the family.
5. The Sons are brought up by emotional blackmail and constant brainwashing from birth, that his parents should always come before his wife and he should never forget his duty towards them. If he gives his wife first priority, then he will be known as hen pecked and that the wife will not be able to resist taking advantage of the situation. She will surely take him away from his parents
6. As a son/man his duty is to make sure his wife gives him first priority and also make sure that she stays in her place.
7. When the family bemoans the birth of a girl child, she cannot and should not express any joy she may feel.
8. A woman should always make sure she dresses up decently; otherwise naturally eve teasing will follow.
9. If a daughter, sister or wife is a victim of unwanted male attention or even rape, then surely the victim would have encouraged the man in question somehow. Yes, even asking the man to “mind his own business” is taken as encouragement. The woman/girl should always make sure that she blends into the surroundings and should never provoke or draw attention to herself in anyway. When harassed or eve teased she should quietly walk away from the scene as quickly as possible.
I could go on. It is sad but true, predominantly in India, women forget to celebrate themselves and often end up putting the society and its privileged members; their sons, husbands, brothers and everyone else before themselves. We get so involved in doing what is expected and right, in the eyes of the society that we more often than not, forget to actually do the right thing.
Now imagine if every woman in every family asserts her role of a woman and as an individual, who in spite of pressure from all sides can stand up for the most basic form of fairness. A woman, who will remember the pain she has faced, hence dares to show empathy and understanding for girls/women her life, they by breaking the rules of the society. Only when this happens, will our sons become fair and our daughters become aware of their self-worth. Empowerment of the female kind is not about taking out marches and shouting slogans. Its starts at home, in small day to day things like who will do the dishes today? In a family where the husband and sons do the dishes in turns with wife and daughter, a silver lining of hope has already been drawn.
The following incident took place three years back during my marriage. My cousin brother of age 10 was keenly observing and noticing the various rituals and general proceedings of a South Indian Tamil Brahmin wedding. At once instance he looked really worried and asked his mom where I would live after marriage. My aunt gave the usual reply that I would live with my husband who was then working abroad. My cousin then asked her, if he could live with his parents in the same house they lived in at that time, after his wedding. Of course my well educated, forward looking aunt reassured him that he could live at home. This small incident has remained with me and continues to irk me. I wonder if she would have answered in the same way had her daughter asked her that question. I for one would have said, “You and your wife should build your own home, but of course you will both be welcome to our place also”.
How would you answer this question? Shouldn’t the answer remain the same for a daughter and a son? What do you think? Remember, your thought has the power to redefine the fabric of our society and roles we play. That is the power we hold as being women. Realize it.
1. Pretty woman
3. Random thoughts
Anyone else who happens to read this and has something to say is welcome to consider themselves tagged:)