I remember when I was in 7th or 8th standard when the news about an acid attack on a woman for rejecting a man for marriage was the talk of the town. The attack was by her ex and the girl was engaged to someone else at that point of time. While this was shocking enough for me to lose sleep for several nights, what tarnished my spirits completely was the fact that her engagement broke off because of this. I remember asking innocently, “ab unki shadi nhi hogi?” and the response I got was “Obviously, that’s how the society is.”.
Well, while I could see the true colours of this society as patriarchal from early on, I realise I fell for the subtle shades of misogyny and sexism without even realising.
Looking back, I can’t believe I have believed and said certain statements that are so problematic at so many levels. Moreover, I am angry on why I was never scolded for this and taught the right thing.
I had to resort to my own introspection, understanding, and unlearning and I am so sorry it took me so long to learn and gather the courage to break this down for myself. Just like me, if you have been holding on to some beliefs that aren’t even yours, I guess it’s a good time to let go of them. Come, let’s do it together!
“I am not that girly-girl”
Eeww! What is this even supposed to mean?! I guess the by-product of this patriarchal society is creating categories and restricting people and especially womxn within those boxes. It’s something I have left behind, but at one point I saw women as “girly-girl” and “tomboyish”. Girls who put on makeup and are conscious about how they look are supposed to be girly and I am not that type. I am sure as a teenager, I have said this statement multiple times and not just as a comment on myself but also on other women whom I considered “girly”. Well, I just feel like shaking my old-self and say “What’s wrong with you? How can someone’s choice about how they want to look determine who they really are”. While the society does more than enough to try and break us apart, why even judge and categorise ourselves while we as womxn must stand for each other to do the least.
“That guy gossips like a girl”
What really “gossiping” is and how healthy it is can be a whole discussion in itself. Leaving that for some other day, really how could I fall for this one?! All my life I have been made to believe that ‘gossiping’ is something that’s women’s forte, just like cooking *eye rolls*. What’s worse? At some point I believed it too. Any guy gossiping would subconsciously make me believe that he’s doing something guys usually don’t do and it’s very feminine of him to do so. I am sure my old self won’t be able to look me into the eyes after carrying the weight of this pointless “belief” for way too long. How can something so human be subjected to genderizing!
“She is beauty with brains”
I might have even been flattered on being at the receiving end of these 3 problematic words- No not ‘I love you’ 😛 I am talking about ‘Beauty with Brains’. I am sure I must have passed this “compliment” to other women too without giving it any thought. But to really think of it now, I haven’t heard this compliment being given to men, or worse off anything like “handsome with brains” ever been said. It’s sad we have always been made to believe that women can either look beautiful or be intelligent while the men can have it all without a question! And it’s sadder that women too have believed this to be true.
From “Girls don’t talk loudly” to “You too can reject guys for a marriage proposal”, at every stage of my life I have been told and taught so much without giving ample thought to it. As a result, I have found so much being carried with me that I didn’t even choose. I find unlearning like this where I brush off the unnecessary from my mind and heart as an essential part of learning and moving forward.