The requirements for the Indusladies 2nd Annual International Women’s Day Blog Contest are as follows
We want you to blog about “A perspective on roles of Indian Women”. A Women plays a variety of roles in her life – daughter, sister, wife, daughter-in-law, mother, grand mother, employee and so on. Your blog post can address any particular angle with regards to those roles. Which role is the most important? Which role is she over-indexed on? Which roles limits her the most? Which role excites her the most? It can be a celebration, it can be a critique, it can be an aspiration, it can be an yearning, it can be anything.
With due respects, I have a big problem with the subject. Labels are so limiting and so are assigned roles.
Is a woman a sister? If so, then she only comes into her own when there is a sibling, and given the preference for male children in India, she only comes into her own neatly dressed and tying a rakhi on the wrist of a brother. Or perhaps someone whose honor a brother has to protect by fending away eve teasers. And given the sad truth of today’s India, someone, whose brother went too far and killed because that is just what she is to him, his honor! But that is not what a woman is. She is much more than that. She is a person, a real person who has as much right to live as her brother, and as much right to choice as he has.
Is a woman a daughter? Is she just that? Then she is just expense and a burden. Her poor parents would have to arrange for a huge dowry for her, get her married off to a “suitable” groom. Yes, they would have to buy a groom for her with that dowry … and then when the deal goes sour, they would have to keep sending her back to the house in which she is tortured by her greedy in laws. May be it won’t be that grim. May be she will be kept in comfort, even “allowed” to run the house for her in-laws, though they would strictly supervise her and monitor what she wears, how she cooks, where she spends her husband’s money, whom she befriends. After all, she is the “ghar ki izzat” And then the parents will be sad, since her visits to her parental house would be curtailed to a minimum, but they will console themselves by saying, “Daughters are paraya dhan, and they should let her be … since she appears to be happy at her in-laws”. No, daughters are much more than that, they are members of their birth family for life – and should be given equal rights and responsibilities.
A wife? Our shastras speak about a wife being an ardhangini, a valued partner. But is that the ground reality? A sex doll, a slave, a cook, a over worked home manager, and sometimes a punching bag. And if she is a working woman, an additional income to which she has no rights. I know of cases where a woman cooks for her stay at home in-laws, packs lunch boxes and then goes to work – and she does not even get to enjoy the money she earns, because her in-laws manage the budget of the house.
A daughter in law – well I have said what I have to in the para about daughters ….
A mother … hmmm You know what I heard once – A mother in law telling a daughter in law “Tu toh zameen hai, fasal jo upjegi, voh humari hai” Translation “You are just the soil, the fruit of your womb is ours not yours” Yes, this was my mother-in-law to me …. Is that true? Really? Of course not! But that is what the common perception is …
A grandmother – someone who is expected to serve, pamper, tell stories and other wise ignored.
No, I am not being negative. These are the ground realities in many situations. This is why I am against assigned roles. It is just like saying a man is expected to be a provider, and impregnate his wife and protect the honor of the women in his family. What if the man has a medical problem and cant produce babies? What if he is unable to hold a job? What if he is far away and God forbid, he can’t protect his women in danger? Does he stop being a man?
A woman is all of the above and more. She is the anchor of her home, she is someone who makes a home come alive. I have two sons, and believe me, my house became a home only after my son got married. The feminine touches, the giggles, the flowers in unexpected nooks, the shiny blue ribbon forgotten on a dining table – these are stuff that breathe life into a home.
A woman is the female energy that is needed to balance the world which is – right now undervaluing it completely. We worship goddesses but do not respect the same female form when we see it in real life. Yes we are women, Wives, Mothers, Daughters etc … but that is not all we are. We need to look beyond and truly believe, we are more. We are 50% if not more of the population of humans in this world, without us the world can not function. So let us not limit ourselves. We have important strengths
* mental strengths, such as the instinct to manage scarce resources
* identity strengths, which maintain strong values under pressure
* emotional strengths, such as anticipating the effects of decisions
* relational strengths, with an emphasis on win-win solutions
These have nothing to do with roles. These have everything to do with being a woman.
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