A Woman’s Face is Her Work of Fiction

“A man’s face is his autobiography, a woman’s face is her work of fiction.” — Oscar Wilde

What is it that makes women conceal their real selves? Is it societal pressure to appear perfect and pretend to have everything under control all the time, is it their need for acceptance, is it the long years of oppression and submission causing them to satisfy the demands of the society, or is it just because, like they love to say, men and women are “wired differently”?

Why is it that women, invariably and inadvertently, almost always take the nonsense that is dished out to them? It doesn’t matter how strong, or independent or educated or liberal they are. All of that modern upbringing goes down the drain when they face exploitation and abuse. Some of the strongest women turn the weakest in front of their husbands and boyfriends, trying to cater to their desires, without caring much for what they want themselves.

Women have an inherent ability to love — that’s what science says too. Their maternal instincts make them more sensitive to the needs of those they love. Or so I’ve heard.

In the modern world, especially, where women have this constant pressure of always appearing strong and independent, the need to put on a brave face on the outside seems like a compulsion. None of us wants the world to know that despite the tough façade that we maintain, we are crumbling on the inside. No one wants to appear weak, for fear of being vulnerable. Women have fragile hearts. Hearts that are more often than not broken easily. And men fail to understand that.

Akin to popular belief, women do have complicated minds. Half of the things that go on up there are incomprehensible even to themselves. Blame it on the overexposure to media, the amount of dumb, hormonal fiction that women spend long hours reading, or the fact that women are just inherently different; for some reason, women tend to analyse and over analyse things to the extent of it seeming ridiculous. They can’t help it, because if they could, they most definitely wouldn’t be indulging in hours of scrutinizing sessions with their girlfriends, interpreting and overthinking all that goes on in their lives, trying to make sense of things that don’t necessarily have much meaning in the first place. It is kind of like analysing those poems in high school, where our professors compelled us to make sense of overtly senseless poems written by famous poets on a high. Every word, every gesture, every idea will be analysed to the point of exhaustion.

I have always believed that women are beautiful; much more than men. Not just on the exterior, but on the interior as well. No, I still don’t believe that women are superior to men. (Okay, so maybe a little part of me does. But that is only because all my life, I have been surrounded by some of the strongest women one could ever have the privilege of knowing.) And that is what makes me certain of the fact that, despite their complex minds and the crazy drama that they indulge in, they are, indeed, beautifully flawed. Women are an unsolved mystery. Men have spent ages trying to figure them out, but indulging in the pursuit of things that are basically impossible seems like a futile thing to do.

It is my belief in the apparent superiority of women that caused me to feel deeply offended when I came across the aforementioned quote by Oscar Wilde. I mean no offense to the author, he seems like a pretty smart person, but when he calls a woman’s face her work of fiction, I feel like he is insulting her ability to appear strong in the face of the harsh world that she lives in. Because, let’s face it, despite all talks of having modernized and industrialised and having empowered the women, we still do live in a patriarchal society at the end of the day.

The more I think about it, however, the more I come to agree with Wilde. Because, as much as I’d hate to admit it, I am not who the world thinks I am.

It pains me to think that we live in a world where men have the liberty to openly be who they are, but women are compelled to hide their real selves. Some might argue that women have the same liberty as men do, but it is not till you are a woman that you realise the burden that comes with being one. It is difficult. Very difficult. And those who tell you otherwise, are either trying to fool their own selves or are too naïve to live in reality.

So yes, a woman’s face probably is her work of fiction. But that doesn’t make her any less real than the men around her. It just makes her a little bit stronger and a little bit harder. And those are two essential qualities for any woman to survive in this world.

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