March 8 is observed as International Women's Day. What began as a protest for labour rights is now a day that acknowledges women's right to participation in all spheres of society, and demands that gender inequality be addressed at the personal and political levels.
However, not many are aware of why Women's Day is observed and are happy to look at it as a token celebration of "womanhood", whatever that may mean. A lot has changed for women, thanks to the consistent efforts of feminists all over the world, but there's still work to be done.
We, at TNM, asked a small group of women between the ages of 20 and 40, what they're tired of hearing despite the year being 2019.
1. GET MARRIED: No surprises here. Indian society places paramount importance on marriage and staying single is simply not an option, especially if you're a woman. Nearly all the single women we spoke to, whether they're in their 20s or 30s, said that there's enormous pressure on them to find "someone" and fulfill their obligation to get married.
2. GET MARRIED: Ok, we know that was the first point, but there's more. Women also told us that EVERYTHING in their life is connected to marriage and that any emotion they express is inevitably linked to their single status by the people around them. Angry? Find a husband. Frustrated? Find a husband. Happy? Don't pretend and find a husband! If they lose weight, they're asked if it's because they're preparing for marriage. And if they gain weight, they're told they'll never get married. And oh, they should be slim but not work out "too much" in case they get too muscular and frighten away prospective grooms who might not be Salman Khan.
3. Stay married: Once you've accomplished the task of getting married, it's still not over. The women we spoke to told us that they're expected to "sacrifice" their own ambitions and dreams to keep their spouse happy or stay together at the same place. So, there might be "gentle" suggestions on taking up freelance work rather than a demanding job, relocating to whichever place is more convenient for the all-important husband, and making sure what she wants from life doesn't get in the way of "marital happiness". Actually, in some cases, women are even told not to get "too educated" because they may find it difficult to "adjust" with their future husband. What can we say, we're a society full of foresight.
4. Have babies: What a surprise. Not. If you've managed to get married and stay married, there's no valid reason for you to not have babies. The biological clock is going tick-tock and the world is very invested in your uterus. Any argument that you need more time or that you simply don't want to have kids is shot down.
5. You're a goddess: Considering women have only two hands and zero superpowers (we did not manage to contact Wonder Woman; this article will be updated if and when we do), it's pretty impossible for them to multi-task day after day, every day. Women are sick of having to look perfect and behave perfect. They are not waiting for you to hand them out a Good Girl certificate for doing household chores.
6. Why are you wearing that?: Sure you don't want a dupatta or a shrug? Why are you still wearing skirts? Men are justified in looking at you, wherever you go, if you're dressed like that (aka anything at all). Why did you go alone? Why did you go with a man? Why do you want a bike? Basically, anything a woman wants to do is wrong even before she does it. She must have no desires and just absorb whatever the world throws at her, like a sponge (it's important to look fluffy while we're at it).
7. Oh all women are...: No sentence beginning with "all women" can be true because nobody knows all women and nobody has spoken to all women. Especially men who are likely to have spoken to very few women, should stop assuming on their behalf what they're thinking or what they want. Woke bros who explain feminism to women, we're looking at you. And woke upper caste, upper class privileged women, stop making assumptions on behalf of other women. They don't need you to be their saviour, pass the mic so they can speak for themselves.
8. #Notallmen: Yeah, we know we just spoke about sentences beginning with "all". But you see, when women speak about their lived experiences, they're speaking of systemic oppression which happens with the full sanction of society. As a decent person, your response can vary from "I will do something about this" to even just "I'm listening". And try saying this without expecting a prize for being decent. You don't have to say #Notallmen because we're aware that we've not met ALL men. And thank god for that.
9. Are you woman enough?: We all know there are different kinds of women personality-wise, but can we also get over the obsession with "real women", "natural women", "natal women" etc? If the so called woke, feminist, liberals still cannot wrap our heads around the diversity of womanhood, then we're no better than the average misogynist in our midst.
10. Menstruation is impure: No, it's not. We've wasted enough time explaining why. Bye.