One day in our name!
“Happy Women’s Day!!!”
Come 8th March and the chant begins. Some really do believe in it, some don’t, but go along nonetheless and the rest vehemently oppose.
I’m not particularly joyous enough to say it aloud, though if anyone wishes me, I thank them politely. To me, the celebration of this ‘one day’ seems a little worrisome. So I balance myself precariously with my feet in two different boats, sailing through the fast current. Just like any new idea, this one comes along with its own baggage of pros and cons.
And yes, I do believe this concept is new.
Today, of all days, I feel marginalised. Rationally thinking, why should me and my fellow women of the world get just one day to ourselves… International Women’s Day! What about the remaining 364 days of the year? (not considering the leap years) Do we restrict the celebration of womanhood to this one day? Or do we get so remarkably busy living that we need a day to remind us of who we are. If so, then why don’t the other 50% of the ‘human’ species celebrate their day? Why do we not go around wishing men “Happy Men’s Day” on 19th November? (Psst… Don’t worry, You’re not the only one. I also discovered while writing this blog.) Is all the wishing happening in secret, hidden from the prying eyes of the world?
Neither does media nor social media turn into an infinite cocoon of stories recounting men’s bravery, remembering influential men, exemplifying extraordinary men. Or are the men doing nothing extraordinary in their lives? Of course, there will be those who will say that men are celebrated everyday while the women have been trodden down for the last couple of centuries. That this day is the day to remind the world that we are not just mere objects, but intelligent beings with ambition and emotion both. There will be those who will advocate both equality and special status. To catch up to centuries of inequality, the special status is probably called for, but should it be just a day in the year? Do we forget that we are special the rest of the year? And re-iterating on the previous point, are we forgetting the men in our lives? Why do men get to be ordinary? Why are they the norm and we, the exception?
There is no right and wrong here. I’m not trying to take sides or demean the celebration of women’s day, or berate men. I’m only attempting to understand the difference…
“I’m liberal!” I often hear my self saying this. Or the fact that my family is liberal. In an instant, the sentence is associated to the fact that as a ‘girl’ or ‘female’ child of the house, there were never any restrictions. I was ‘allowed’ everything and my family accepted me for me as a person. Obviously, this wouldn’t be true for everyone who hears it. But, without trying to be stereotypical, I’m voicing the most repetitive interpretation I’ve come across so far. I’ve been lucky enough to have a strong family who have only been critical of me as a person. Gender has never been a barrier. Be it my brother or me, we’ve always been pushed to do more, go beyond and made to give our best towards everything.
Sheltered through my school life, when I stepped into my world of graduation, I faced realities. Travelling across the country, meeting a sundry of people from various villages and towns, I observed an inherent difference in path ‘men’ and ‘women’ follow. Having never confronted ‘sexism’ before, my first impassioned reaction was to lash out against ‘traditional values. Slowly, over the years, I’ve come to terms with tradition and more often than not have tried to ascertain the logic behind certain set behavioural patterns acceptable by the society.
Being challenged continuously, I have become a proud owner of strong feminist views. Often the people around me do not appreciate my passionate opposition to what is considered the norm. On numerous accounts, I’ve been called a “Femi-nazi”. A word concocted from the offensive and insulting term “Nazi”, insulting my humanity as a person. A word, derogatory to everyone, women or men. Associating ‘taking a stand’ of one’s own rights with an ‘ideology’ rooted in cruelty and violence, is just plain wrong. In spite of belonging to an ‘educated urban society’, I’ve been asked awkward questions at my workplace, heard jokes on stereo-typically accepted characteristics of women and men, been questioned by the society for not adhering to the ‘standard’ path a woman is supposed to follow. I blame patriarchy, for teaching boys and girls that they are different from each other beyond the world of biology. I blame the men who gawk and sneer at their women colleagues. I blame the women, who lift their pointy fingers at men who support women. I blame the society, stubborn and childlike with standards made of fluff and clouds.
I do not hate men. Neither do I advocate special status for women. I just ask for a ‘right to choose’. It is not the ‘male’ of the society I’m in eternal fight with. After all, I love my dad, my brother, my cousins, my uncles and my friends. My love and hate relationship is with Patriarchy.
An ideology which took the world by storm and refuses to back down now.
An ideology which emasculated men and weakened women. Burying a thought so deep, that the roots entwined with the foundation of society and thus integral to every aspect of life. It will need a storm, stronger and louder, to cut through the ruins of the previous. To uproot all values and instill new ones…
Until then, I accept tradition and fight patriarchy.
Until then, let’s celebrate Women’s Day!
Originally published at nivetofive.blogspot.com on March 8, 2017.