For long women have been placed on a pedestal that perhaps even Goddesses will find unreal. A woman must be timid. She must speak less, she must sit only cross-legged, she shouldn't laugh too loud, or talk too loud. All these are mandatory, non-negotiable traits for the ideal "good women" we all may know, we all should ideally aspire to be.
Is it a surprise then, that in a recent gender sensitisation quiz posted on Jaago Re, over 50% both men and women think girls are "more prim and proper" than boys.
So it's basically taken for granted that a woman should, by default, be particularly, nitpickingly flawless – well-kept, like the pet we tend to pamper at home. The media unfortunately, has only elevated this idea – by overusing and promoting the "pretty princesses" our women groom themselves into. A lot of young girls buy into this stereotype from a very young age, when they would rather comb their doll's hair, then get their hair ruffled at a football or a cricket match. (Cricket? For girls? Sounds like a joke, right?)
Here's another result from the same quiz Jaago Re held on gender sensitisation:
Men tend to be more untidy than women
52% men incorrect
54% women incorrect
Yes, let's just face it: we all do expect women to be spic and span. And not just their personal appearance, we also expect them to look after the appearance of the house and the children. Grooming boys and girls isn't a father's job, it's a woman's job. Tending to the house and ensuring that every piece of furniture is sparkling clean is again, a woman's job.
Only it isn't! No matter how educated or "modern" we are, eventually many of us admire women who actually tend to these household, domestic "duties", whether we admit it or not.
A man may date or dream of dating a woman who breaks all the "rules", but will only take home the "well-behaved self-sacrificial dutiful bahu". This is a well-accepted practice, among a thousand other such ridiculously misogynistic practices our culture is guilty of.
So having an opinion is not a good thing. Questioning the status quo, rocking the boat and worse, defying these unspoken norms for a woman is a complete no-no. In so many ways, our society just injects these ideas – that a woman should remain silent, submissive, be pleasing, "keeps the peace"– be it the self-sacrificial woman from another block buster movie that hits our screens, or the gossip from the neighbourhood aunties.
She should learn to "behave". She should learn to "behave like a woman". Because being a woman means to be "prim and proper and tidy".
Well, how about we just let the girls be? Ruffle your hair. Loosen your belt. Ride wild like the wind. Do not behave. Scream, shout, laugh, love. Ask. Challenge. Push your boundaries. Be it at work, school or home. Do not let your daily affairs be dictated by how "pretty" you look.
Be concerned, and express it. Be sensitive, express it. Be opinionated, and please express it. Speak up when you need to, take a stand. Make yourself heard loud and clear.
Don't just break the traditional idea of what a woman should be, destroy it. Because you're not just smashing a perception, you're smashing patriarchy.
The very same patriarchy that results in women being "eve-teased" and harassed daily. The same patriarchy that is responsible today for women being raped, killed, beaten into submission. No, it's the woman's fault, it never is. It is the fault of the oppressor, and also the fault of those who defend it.
Break patriarchy and all the chains that grip you. Break free.
No, everyone will not support you. Yes people will tear you down, force you back into the regressive and constricted idea of how a woman should be. All you can do is smile and break free.
And tomorrow, make sure to turn back and say to them, "Well-behaved women rarely make history."
Do you display sexist attitudes in your daily life or are you gender sensitive? Click on the game and play now to know your score on gender sensitivity.
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