There are a number of women in our society who believe they are a misfit in the roles they play in life, be it that of a mother, a daughter, a partner, a friend or a caregiver. The major reason behind the belief? Not being able to conform to the role that has been earmarked for them by society.
This is not very uncommon today. Several women are called “unwomanly” for being themselves and not being able to adapt to society’s expectations.
In a blog post written not so long ago, which is the inspiration behind this article, blogger Mayank Muley wrote: “’बूढी घोड़ी, लाल लगाम (Budhi ghodi, laal lagaam)” — sexist in nature and often shrouded in a sense of humor that is expected to be accepted as a friendly banter, this is a saying in Hindi that is often used to sarcastically question the motives and character of any lady usually in her late 30s and beyond who doesn’t appear sartorially or behave in terms of general conduct the way she should, as per her age, according to the norms of our society.”
“Hitherto unknown to me, I recently came across this idiom during my conversation with someone close to me and upon learning the meaning, I felt terrible over the way our society tries to subtly foist its disapproval upon someone, especially a woman in this case, that doesn’t fit its definition, description or viewpoint of what’s appropriate, using such pathetic, disparaging sarcasm. Quite often, we men, who manage to appear, dress, behave and think as if we are younger than our current age are able to get away easily with the tag of being a ‘charmer’, someone still ‘young at heart with a striking personality’, a maverick and even a dapper debonair!” he wrote, adding: “However, we are not so charitable and forgiving when it comes to our female counterparts doing the same.”
Subtle manifestations of sexism in everyday conversations often are often perceived as natural conduct. There is a lot that still needs to be done to win the fight for gender equality, from giving all women the opportunity to access education to closing the gender pay gap and more. The bigger battle, however, can be won only when the changes begin at home on a seemingly smaller level.
There are various sexist remarks that women face every day — passed off as “harmless” — that need to be addressed immediately. Of many such remarks, here are five that require immediate confrontation.
- She has a dark skin but she is beautiful
This is not a compliment. This is an inappropriate remark because when you are saying this, you are suggesting that most women who have dark skin are not beautiful.
- As a girl, you should know how to handle your alcohol
This sexist remark suggests that drinking alcohol is a male-centric trope and women should probably be schooled on how much alcohol she should drink to stay sober.
- You are a woman and you should learn to cook
This is offensive. When you say this, you basically suggest that women belong in the kitchen — an age-old belief that needs to be erased.
- You are like a mother figure
Romanticising a woman as being a mother as something that completes her, and demeaning her for choosing not to have a baby, needs to be stopped. We really do not need to confine a woman’s identity to a specific role.
- Lower your voice/Do not be so bossy
Asking one’s daughter, colleague, friend, partner or any woman to speak softly or not boss around because the common belief is that such behaviour is not “womanly”, needs to be addressed and stopped immediately.
“Probably, we are not conditioned to see and appreciate aging females picking up the trend by dressing brighter, prettier, working on their bodies and maintaining themselves and whatever remnant of youth they have, by the way of their choices and lifestyles. Somehow, their behavior comes across to our sensibilities as not just outlandish, but also outrageous to our idea of modesty and aging with grace. We fail to realise that all of us have this innate desire to stay young forever, to somehow reverse the process of aging, and are quick to discourage and even disparagingly refer to a lady who makes an attempt to not let the spring of mental youth inside her be overshadowed by the autumn of physical/biological spring,” Mayank wrote.
“Yes, I know that this post could have been more appropriate on the 8th of March of any year when all of us, for a day, like to indulge ourselves in the charade of celebration of the women folk and womanhood all over, but I wouldn’t want my name, my words or my mark on something as fleeting as the duration of just a day. I hope that we all can be more accepting and welcoming towards ideas that introduce a change, a departure from the norms and be a society that is not just on the top in terms of GDP and technological breakthroughs and architectural marvels, but also the one where there is greater acceptability, space and respect for dignity and individuality among the members pursuing their own ways of living a life that feels better and more fulfilling to them,” he added.
Seriously, let women be the way they want to be!