Despite claiming to be a progressive society, we haven’t yet freed ourselves from the noose of orthodoxy and out-dated customs that were firmly tied to us since time immoral. From dowry practices to forcing women to be stay-at-home wives, patriarchy continues to be the core of our DNA the reason why this strange reason behind an impending high-profile didn’t take me by surprise. For what I can call the totally misogynistic and sophomoric reason, a filmmaker is all set to part ways with his actress wife, since his parents are vehemently against the thriving career of his wife, and wants her to be the typical pallu-clad, doormat-like partner with zero self-identity. Paying obeisance to the patriarchal mind-set, a channel even aired an ‘exclusive’ conversation with his dad who never shied away from hurling the entire blame on his ‘ambitious’ daughter-in-law.
What kind of forward-thinking society are we claiming to be living in, where someone guiltlessly walkout of his blissful marital life just because his wife is harmlessly ambitious and longs to have a stable career of her own? The incident, with the many unaccounted others, only goes to reaffirm repeatedly that nothing has dethroned the sense of authoritarianism and brashness that several men continue to brazenly carry with pride. It also reminds me of the audacity of a supposedly prospective groom whom my parents choose for me from a matrimonial website. A pot-bellied agricultural officer who was nearly 7-8 years elder to me back then, and more than evidently old-fashioned, he expressed his inherent and infuriatingly regressive outlook at the very first sight by asking me if I would bid goodbye to my stable writing career if he expresses his ‘willingness’ to marry me. Not wasting a second to pamper his boorishness, I quickly yet politely expressed the denial loud and clear, while struggling to hide my anger and humiliation for having wasted an hour of my precious time to meet a narrow-minded chauvinist. I was desperate to shun his fatuity and end the conversation right away.
Marriage is undoubtedly an important milestone, but not the ultimate aim for living, the reason why this obstinacy to make women sacrifice their career at the marriage altar is a preposterous practice that I am yet to comprehended. A happy household is unquestionably a bliss that every woman would want to have, and I am no different. But this should never come with relentless persecution for having chosen a thriving career. Running a home in clockwork precision is not just the responsibility of women alone, and women needn’t relinquish her career aspirations and forcefully domesticate themselves to become the perfect wife and a perfect mother that the world wants her to be.
Marriage and motherhood are the most precious phases that no woman would want to give up on. But we never get to see them coming in the way of successful men. For most women these milestones are mostly followed by the abrupt ending of their careers and ambitions. While this can be argued as a matter of choice, the fact is there is no choice at all, other than giving up jobs and career to “settle down” as per societal norms. No programs on educating and empowering girls and women will succeed in our country unless there’s a serious change in the mind-set. It’s high time to debunk the age-old notion of stereotypical gender roles. The contributions should be equal, and so should be the sacrifices. If this turns out impracticable, like women, men too can stay at home and be the caregivers while women become breadwinners. In other words, a change in roles should become totally acceptable and normal. Don’t you think so?
PS – If a couple dares to reverse the accepted roles within a marriage, will a man easily survive the ridicule, insecurities, and scorns our boorish society, to remain as a stay-at-home spouse and support his wife wholeheartedly? I really doubt. Supportive life partners like Kashyap Deorah are very rare to find.
If you are wondering who Kashyap Deorah is, watch this CNBC-TV18 Young Turks video snippet.
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Hardly a day goes by without having to deal with sardonic comments on my unconventional looks, large forehead, and unfashionable attires. Despite having a handful of achievements to boast of, the world is engrossed in my looks and marital status; an annoying obsession which I have a problem with. It’s akin to dealing with an invisible yet omnipresent enemy. Am I the only woman who has to deal with this distasteful judgment? Absolutely not!
One among the most popular business journalists in the country, she has won several accolades and has umpteen achievements to her credit. Yet, I happened to see a sexiest piece of writing that treated her and nine other renowned journalists like mere ‘window dressings’ in the world of visual media. Titled Hottest Female Journalists, the article is nothing but a disgraceful re-count that disparages the stupendous achievements of these highly admired journalists. From makeup to attire, the article has everything trivial, celebrating their appearances, and paying scant attention to what they have achieved over the years. The cheesy piece of writing only accentuated the fact that inherent patriarchal attitudes still run deep and are expressed vividly through such shallow, mean, and highly demeaning judgments.
This discrimination rarely happens to men, who are judged on their achievements and talents alone. The oddity doesn’t end here, as I still haven’t deciphered the reason behind usages such as female-journalist, female-doctor, female-lawyer, and so on. While gender names are unalterably glued in case of women professionals, why does the mandate fly out of the window when men work in these respective positions? Objectification, misogyny, and bigotry don’t happen with journalists, doctors, or lawyers alone. They have become part and parcel of our day-to-day life. Regardless of having several activists who are constantly vocal about getting rid of sexism at workplaces, or society in general, gender-based marginalization is still dominant, and often wriggles out in the forms of meanest categorizations and offensive remarks. It’s high time we get rid of the unhealthy fixation to judge women on what they wear and how they look. In spite of being regarded as remarkably progressive, in today’s world, a woman’s hairstyle, attire, or other arbitrary external factors sadly play key roles in building people’s perception about her overall personality. In other words, a woman’s short skirt or red lipstick overshadows years of hard work and remarkable achievements.
From wardrobes to wardrobe-malfunctions, and from weight gain to weight loss mantras and Botox treatments, several glossy magazines thrive on the gossipy articles that objectify women. Advertisements too are no different, and constantly have their cameras panned on bodily features of skimpily clad women, rather than subtly and creatively conveying their messages. This undoubtedly increases the obsession with women’s looks. Every objectifying gaze on TV soon extends to real-life, wherein men are keener on judging women only by their physical appearance, and not by their talents. This disheartening, unhealthy, and absurd objectification comes with several ramifications, including labeling women as less competent than men. No matter how big an achiever a woman is, rarely do we see the world talking about her successes. But much to our shock and disappointment, everyone will have countless opinions on her appearance. While some are prudent enough to keep it to themselves, some others imprudently express it publically.
That said, given the way several women literally go berserk to comply with the long-patronized stereotypical benchmarks of the society, men alone needn’t be blamed snarky judgments and stark objectifications. The pressure of looking good should never overpower a woman’s self-identity, or infuse a sense of sheer worthlessness due to lack of right makeup, curvy figure, or flashy apparel. Women should stop falling prey to unwarranted self-consciousness, and embrace the sense of completeness in being as natural as possible. Makeup and trendy apparel undoubtedly enhances ones appearance, but should never be considered as a convenient drape to conceal negativity and low self-esteem. Adding to this is imminent need to get rid of the muckraking attitude that some derisive women are ‘infested’ with. While they are quick to judge other women on their looks, most of them would find their confidence crumbling down upon receiving the same remarks in return.
There is so much more about women achievers than the way they look like. Yet, most of them are either judged based on their looks, or written off as boring and bookish. When will our apparently progressive society get rid of this deep-rooted discrimination and pervasive misogyny?