The world out there is celebrating ‘Women’s Day’ today. Status updates on social networking sites, messages on micro-blogging, personal messages being conveyed over mails, messages and calls and some, like me are blogging about it. But behind the scenes, God knows how many girls are being killed in the womb right now. How many women are falling victims to rape and domestic violence as you read this post? How many women are being subjected to crude comments and their vital statistics being discussed over a bottle of beer? God only knows!
So, as a friend of mine just asked ‘what does it mean to be a woman?’ – I answered him with the most clichéd answer. But it got me thinking… What does it really mean to be a woman in the 21st Century?
I wish I could say that it feels wonderful or at least no different from being a man. I wish I could say that all the messages make me feel special or celebrated but I truly cannot.
I think that being a woman first and foremost means being responsible. Be it naturally or under society’s misguided conceptions… Nature makes us responsible by giving us the power and tools to nurture life. We are the ones that give birth and then nurture that life. Society on the other hand makes us responsible for every little thing that happens. When a child falls and is hurt it is always because the mother was careless. When a girl or a boy behaves in a rebellious manner it is always because his or her mother didn’t teach him/her well. A girl is raped because SHE provoked the perpetrators. In case of domestic violence it is always because the woman must have failed to satisfy the man. If we talk about female feticide, well what can a man do if the woman decides to nurture the X chromosome instead of the Y! Either way, being a woman means being responsible whether we want to be held responsible or not.
I may raise the ire of a lot of people when I say - Yes ladies, whether we want it or not and whether we acknowledge it or not, we are responsible for everything that is wrong today as well as everything that is right today. We being women ourselves, ask for dowry and treat our daughters-in-law like a commodity. We being women ourselves, raise our sons as if they are the answer to our prayers. We being women ourselves, victimize the rape and domestic violence victims. Tell me, how can we ask men to stop victimizing us unless we stop doing it first?
As for the state of our patriarchal society, by rule, the power holder will never relinquish their power willingly. If we want the power and respect that we deserve then we will have to take it ourselves. How you ask? When you see boys whistling at a girl wearing short skirts, don’t stop and think that she deserves it because of her choice of clothes. Instead stand with her to reproach those boys. When you see a man molesting a girl in the crowded bus, don’t wait for her to raise the alarm. She may be scared of being alone. When your son gets married, don’t ask or let your husband ask for dowry. Remember, she is just as educated and strong as your son. Treat her as you would like to be treated if you were in her shoes.
Stop victimizing the ones of your kind and hold her hand instead. Only then my dear ladies, will you have the power in numbers and the respect you deserve.
Don’t wait for someone else to come and hand you what is yours. Just claim it!