We are dying for a change, esp us women, maybe only us women. Some (too few) guys are just tagging along. Some of us (nope, not me) are doing something about it; putting in some effort; in raising awareness, bringing people together, at least trying and bringing about some change, at whatever level they can, the smallest even. The change when ‘women empowerment’ is not just a movement raging within the offices of a handful of activists and in a few articles here and there scattered across the media. The change when a woman, every woman, would be empowered, truly, completely.
And what are we doing about that? Absolutely nothing. Some years back, I was working on a project and our client was an American firm. They were pretty clear about having content that does not show any bias or discrimination towards a race, color, class, or gender. And we saw exactly what they meant when we did a little research. Most books now in the US actively show girls as protagonists. For example, if they are talking about rocket science, the illustration would show a girl as a rocket scientist. Now that’s actively doing something. They made a conscious choice of empowering the women in their society and they knew that the littlest of the things are going to matter. They made them matter. And the same goes for their media and the image of a woman shown in their current media channels.
What about our media? We have ads that pompously show a woman as a glorified maid (MTR) waking up in the morning and happily cooking whatever it is that each individual family member “orders”. We have (milk-shake-powder) ads that show a mother giving milk to a boy to make him stronger; please do note how most of these ads do not show a girl whose bones need strengthening. [[By the way you do not need milk for your bones. Whatever milk you need is the one you get from your mommy; it’s enough to help you build a good enough immune system and bones and all of your body. Cow’s (or buffalo’s) milk is for the cow (or buffalo) baby. The torture that both the cow and calf are put through is disturbing; but that is another topic.]] Almost all of our media caters to the image of a wife as only a home maker (cook, care-taker) and the man as the provider. The new Titan ad for example. Apart from having all nicely (and cutely) chubby women, in a garden party/picnic, they show the women cooking and the men just…standing around. And to top that, we have the amazing, truly empowered actor Priyanka Chopra flaunting the huge diamond ring on her finger, that her dad gave her, saying that any man worthy of her should be able to top that. Like that is all a man brings to a relationship. Money! Material comfort!?!
I once had a woman argue with me about how it was unthinkable to give a baby the mother’s name. (I gave my baby my name; she just could not fathom the depths of my stupidity in doing so.) Today’s woman does not even want to hear that it is alright to give your child your name. That it is alright to not let go of your identity once married. Some who do, still feel the need to “hyphenate”; for what? To placate their husband’s (or his family’s) ego? We have a long, long, really long way to go. A woman, as an independent individual, is lost. SHE does not exist anymore. To exist, she needs a crutch, a father, then her husband. She may do nothing else but devote her days and nights to look after her husband’s home and their kids.
Loving parents who love both their daughter and their son will provide the best of education and required support to the son so that he grows up and earns well. What do they do for the daughter? They indulge her, buy her nice clothes, horde lots of cash and jewelry for her so that some day, just as she is completely dependent (and helpless) on daddy today, she becomes completely dependent (and helpless) on the husband tomorrow.
Jago, Jago grahani jago. Behen jago. Ma jago. Beti jago. Bahu…you definitely jago.
Being a stay-at-home wife does not give your husband or his family any right to treat you like a maid. Though nothing compares to being financially and emotionally independent, self-sufficient. But if you can’t, and it’s understandable as you have been brought up to never think for yourself and been let free so you could spread your wings, or taught and advised enough so you could take the right steps when do actually step out into the real world. If you can’t, then start with being independent and self-sufficient where you are. Take small steps at a time. A (very) brave girl I know told me this little story. Her husband used to keep asking her to get him this and get him that. So this one time when he asked her to get his some water, she told him coolly that if he asked her to get him water one more time, she’s gonna spit into it and give it to him. He never asked her to get water again. I think that is a clever thing to do. Show him that you are not here to serve him. Step out of the kitchen; start getting involved in things that concern other things than meals, taking care of the house, laundry. This country, your children, will have a truly beautiful future only if you have a truly beautiful, independent, self-sufficient today. Only an evolved, mature mother can nurture an evolved mature next generation. We desperately need it.
Watch this scary and deeply saddening video: No Country for Women!!