Women like me- Two Life Lessons

Life as we know it, is never fair. If you are a woman then it is worse. This is what I have learnt in my thirty years of experience. Yes, I have learnt it the hard way. Because I am one of those “privileged” women who grow up protected from the harsh realities of the society. I am one of those who are made to believe that everything they aim for is within their reach, that love and respect is available for them in abundance and is unconditional. They go on experiencing the world through rosy glasses until they stumble upon reality.

My first question here is what is the privilege I have that is often talked about? That I got a life, safety, good food and higher education? And love, care and respect from my parents? Sure, if this is what “privilege” means to those who like to shut women like us on the ground of taking too much space and talking about “superficial stuff”, they should first check their upbringing and acknowledge that they are super-privileged.

Yes, I know this post doesn’t begin with the usual cheerfulness and optimism but I felt like being real today. In the last two days, there were only two social media posts that were on my mind- one of a 9-year-old Bahujan girl being raped, killed and cremated by upper caste men and another of a girl thrashing a cab driver without any reason. And between the two news pieces, probably my voice is lost. While I have to admit that I am not fully-equipped to make a post about the two incidents and would not write something with half-baked knowledge, this is the naked truth of the kind of reaction and sympathy women like me get when we talk about our problems and feelings- whataboutery!

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs five stage pyramid (image credit: Simply Psychology)

Do you lack the basics required to survive? You know the bottom two layers of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs? No? Then shut the f**k up. You are privileged! You are a “feminist” who defies culture and tradition, throws random English words like mental health, space, respect, choice during arguments. We have seen people like you in a handful of videos in the past one year- You are like the lady who falsely accused the Zomato guy. Don’t be like her. Be like those countless voiceless women who can’t even escape death and end up being numbers on the news channels every single day.

By now there would be a question on your mind, it’s there on the comment section of all the women like me- Where’s the condemnation of the “Lucknow girl” incident. So, here it goes- in very simple words- the definition of feminism handed over to me by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie– if it sounds wrong when the gender is reversed or gender not mentioned at all, it’s wrong. Would you support a man hitting another man for no reason? No!

Anyway, why do I care to explain. I have to, you see, because even without being certified, I carry a little piece of movement within me. The fact that I am writing this post which won’t be read by more than 10 people is good enough to reiterate what I believe in. And using the same definition that I learnt from a random book I stumbled upon, here are two things I have learned from my past few years filled with physical comfort and mental agony:

You can never change people who are judgmental by nature

I have this anecdote that I love to share- how I befriended some girls who were mean to me. And based on this little experience, I always believed in killing by kindness. But it was naïve of me to think that I would glide through the Indian adult woman life using the same weapon. Don’t get fooled by what you see on daily soaps- coy brides keep sacrificing their time, efforts, love and voice until one eventful day everyone miraculously realizes her worth. Sasural me der hai andher nahi (translation- your in-laws would understand you one day, even if it comes 25 years after marriage). You would understand this if you have watched the leading series on Indian Television.

However, unfortunately an average human mind or heart follows the law of inertia. If you keep feeding their ego and belief they would hardly ever change. They might stop expressing their opinions about you or lie to your face to sound just and fair but wait until the day things are not in their favor. You would be shocked to know the reality. 

Love and care can be a two-way transaction only between equals

By equals I don’t mean equality of caste, class, age, gender, religion etc. Equality is a belief that comes from within. Do you really think your daughter-in-law is equal to you as a human being despite of being younger and from a different family? If yes, then you showing care to her is not a favour to her and her supporting you is not her duty. If you decide to bring a child into this world, you are undoubtedly inviting a bundle of joy and love. But if you think you have to maintain a balance sheet of all the times you sacrificed for them willingly and use them to dump your insecurities in the form of verbal garbage on them, you are nothing but selfish taking shelter of over-glorified parenthood.

If you are in a situation where:

  1. There is an opinion on everything you do- your appearance, your eating habits, your weight, your belief
  2. You are often made to acknowledge how lucky you are only because there is someone who’s doing the bare minimum for you

Ask yourself- How do you feel? Don’t just push those feelings aside. Don’t just call yourself a spoilt brat. Do some introspection. If you really think their concern is genuine and if you are the one emotionally unavailable, then take them into confidence and work this out. You either care for them but can’t express or you don’t feel the same for them.

In case you realize that it’s a pattern for them, every time they don’t get what they want, welcome to my world and tell me how would you handle it because talking it out might not be a solution. It’s the same question I asked in my previous post- How do you handle toxic people?

Comply, Confront or Cut-off?

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