It’s International Women’s Day, and every woman’s inbox is filled with cringe-worthy messages that defeat the whole purpose of Woman’s Day. Every other brand has a Women’s Day discount in place. Meanwhile, every woman has woken up in the morning and begun her day of work, like every other day. She is at the office or school, or cooking and cleaning after her husband and children, like every other day. She is jumping over her hurdles, like every other day.
Some inspired girl out there is thinking of making it big in the world soon.
She might be preparing for an interview. But she will never know how to face certain questions that every woman has faced: when does she plan to settle down? When will she have a child? Will she take maternity leave? She will never know how to stand up to the belief that every woman wants to be a mom, and is ready to sacrifice her life and career for her currently non-existent children.
Meanwhile, another girl is dreaming about having it all in her little world. Marriage and career aren’t mutually exclusive for women. But, does she know that at her pre-wedding interview session, she will be asked about her decision when she will have to choose between her family and her work/studies? She might be expected to figure out her entire life in that one moment. What about a mutual discussion in the future between her partner and she, where they discuss how to share their family, parental, and financial responsibilities equally? Well, that won’t be an option. She is a girl. She must assume the role of a caregiver. She cannot prioritise her career and ambitions.
The truth is, a woman comes with a to-do list.
The points on this list are not jotted down by her, based on her choices, skills, and ambitions. Those are archaic norms decided by society. The purpose of a woman, according to the world, even in 2019, is to marry, have children, be an impeccable, self-sacrificing home-maker. And, after her ‘real’ responsibilities, she gets extra points to be an all-rounder, if she can also handle her hobby, i.e. her career.
I’ve been helping to baby-sit my year old grandson this past week & it’s brought home to me the stark reality of this image. I salute every working woman & acknowledge that their successes have required a much greater amount of effort than their male counterparts pic.twitter.com/2EJjDcK1BR
— anand mahindra (@anandmahindra) February 5, 2019
Everything a woman does is correlated to her future marriage and kids.
If she works late, drinks at after-work parties, or leads a stressful life, it can harm her body. She must dress well, stay slim, look pretty, and stay docile. She must talk in a low voice, smile without opening the mouth, and laugh without making a noise. Otherwise, no man will want to marry her. And once she is married, she must think about her biological clock that’s ticking away. A girl is “single” in her twenties and “unmarried” after she reaches her thirties.
Her career can wait, she is told; marriage and motherhood are portrayed as necessities that complete a woman. She is rushed into motherhood; apparently, it is the noblest thing to do, with no attention given to the permanent physical changes, the debilitating pains, the postpartum depression, and the lifelong alteration. If she decides to live a life juggling her work and family, instead of giving in to lies and all the pressure, she faces more questions. On one hand, her dedication to her wifehood, motherhood, and other relationships; on the other hand, her professionalism is challenged.
On International Women’s Day, let’s pledge to stop judging women on the basis of their marital status and possibilities.
Every year, on Women’s Day, we casually throw around phrases like “women empowerment” and “gender equality”. And, on the other 364 days, we’ll dismiss all #MeToo allegations as a cry for attention or a search for money; we’ll compare women who have recognised their right to speak up with mass-murdering Nazis. We will instil internalised misogyny in our girls, and bring them up with the idea that their wedding is an obligation and responsibility, failing which their parents will be blamed and shamed.
Then, such a girl will either grow up and stay in denial about her life of wrongly submitting to men, handing down similar ideologies to the next generation; or, she will spend it unlearning what the world has told her. She’ll feel guilty for not being able to be that carefree girl in her head who lives her life on her own terms. She will forever hate herself for not choosing herself; she will also hate herself for choosing herself.
On International Women’s Day 2019, let’s all stop rearing women for marriage, motherhood, and martyrdom.
Let’s stop asking women to prioritise their family over career, or even forcing them to pick between career and family. Let’s stop shaming them for choosing themselves. We need to stop looking down at women who choose to be family-oriented. We need to question the capabilities of those who choose both.
It’s time for moms to stop emotionally blackmailing girls into marriage, and for moms-in-law to stop guilting women into quitting jobs. It’s time for grown men to stop ‘helping’ in the house and take responsibilities, instead of acting like it’s a masculine trait to be a listless man-child who might eat his own hand or die of starvation, instead of fixing himself a meal. Gaslighting is not cool or subtle anymore; it’s time to listen when women start speaking, instead of pushing them to the point where they have to scream.
On International Women’s Day, let’s accept that not every woman’s calling is to dedicate her life to an unsalaried job as a care-giving saint. Let’s stop expecting them to sacrifice everything without a second thought. It’s to educate them about the repercussions of motherhood on their health and mind. Let’s accept that it’s fine for a woman to be the jack of all trades, or to be the master of only one, to be the Dashobujha, or the girl-next-door. On International Women’s Day, let’s give women the gift of choice, every day.