Lindsay Rose Jordy /Chennai, Sept 15 (BPNS)
Woman : Everyone is so eager to define her, too quick to find their own perfect mould for her. “She is a mother, a daughter, a sister, a wife or a beloved”. “She is the backbone of a household, an obeying wife”. “She is the symbol of purity, the embodiment of kindness and forgiveness”. “She is sweet, modest, caring and emotional”. “She is the mark of tenderness and devotion”. The list of definitions goes on and on. As the definitions increases so does the rules and conditions in order to withstand the definitive idea. She should be of a certain weight, a certain height, a certain complexion. She should sit that way, walk this way and “speak only when spoken to”.
Can she only be defined by her association and relationship with someone else? If she does not fall under the definition given by the society, then is she not a woman? If she is bold, powerful and influential, is she a witch? If she is harsh and revengeful for what you did to her, is she a devil? If she has questions and opinions of her own, is she a heretic? If she has sexual desires and prioritizes her personal needs, is she a monster? The deep-rooted traditional values and ideologies have a way of imposing the family’s honour upon a woman’s shoulder. As soon as she steps outside the walls of conventions, she taints her family ‘s honour and is labelled a dishonourable woman.
The continued reign of class, caste, racial and communal discrimination falls heavily upon a woman placing her in what is called a “double jeopardy”. She is marginalized and side-lined not only for her gender but also based on what section of the society she belongs to. Therefore, the problems and issues faced by each woman is different, which calls for the need to contextualize feminism. While the “privileged” continue to fight for their rights, they are unable to give voices to the women in the lower segments of the society who are still silenced and pushed further into subalternity. What is common to all of them is the fear that feeds upon them, the feeling of being unsafe and the constant need to look behind her shoulders wherever she is and oftentimes even at her own house. In this world of “apparent” progressive thinking and social advancement the number of women who feel safe even in a smaller community is few to none. This lack of safety is something with has the ability to highly diminish her sense of belonging which further transgresses into she gradually losing her specific identity. Consequently, a woman is either invisible or “too visible” for her own good.
The patriarchal ideology of women as the lower or secondary sex has led to the stigmatization of women for generations. The tendency to “discipline” women so as to fit them into the definitive norms of the society proves ironic as she is continued to be sexualized, objectified and treated as a commodity. Moreover, these harshly inflicted “customs” and “rules” coerce many women to condition themselves, accept and conform to the views of the lopsided world so that they belong there. The constant victimization of women often leads many of them to develop a victim mentality and a sense of submissiveness to whatever ill that befalls them. She fails to act and like Tara Patel said, her life becomes only a “reaction” to something that is forced upon her way.
The only way ensures the survival and safety of a woman is if everyone realizes the answer to the question “what it means to be a woman?” and if she is treated according. The answer to it is something everyone knows and “blissfully” ignores. To be a woman is to be a human being.