Recently, I was at a beauty parlour with my mother where a young woman was getting waxed. When the wax strip was pulled, she let out a scream. An old woman from another waxing segment yelled from behind the curtain, “Itna zor se mat chillao! Ladki ho, apne aap ko maarna seekhna padega. Hamne nahi maara? [Don’t scream! You are a woman. You need to learn to face harsh things. Didn’t we learn that?]”.
Sure, women, you need to learn to make sacrifices which, apparently, you are born to make. From endlessly chopping onions with your bloodshot eyes within the ‘gendered division of labour’ framework to not being able to speak up when you are falling prey to marital rape to portraying yourself as ‘Mother India’ for a society that glorifies female sacrifices, you need to do all of that well. And of course, make sacrifices and give up your choices of wearing skirts, ripped jeans or dressing in ways that “arouses the male desire”, otherwise you will be raped because as Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav puts it, “Boys will be boys, they commit mistakes”.
When women aren’t considered competent, they aren’t allowed to complete their education, which leads to them being socially and economically marginalised. And even if some valiant ones try to step out, the conformist watchdogs slap rooted misogynist norms on their faces and shut them into catacombs of oppression.
The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) shows the graph of men committing crimes against women perpetually rising. The rate of such crimes touched an all-time high of 55.4 in 2019 in Uttar Pradesh as relative to 38.3 in 2014, while Rajasthan bounced to 110.4 in 2019 from 91.4 in 2014. These two states apparently harbour some of the largest population shares of the country. The Narendra Modi government’s showpiece ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ has seemingly failed to deliver the appropriate results. The number of rape cases nationally saw an aggregate rise of a chilling 63 per cent in 2021. And in many such cases, MLAs, MPs or their relatives themselves stand as accused. So, where is the solution?
What we need is a shift in ideologies on the micro-level to rise. Majority of Indian women even today can’t really identify the horrific noose of patriarchy that encircles them through everyday actions. They regard it all to be an unchanging system to conform with. Speaking up against the seemingly normal and ‘okay’ things, which are actually baby steps towards enforcement of a patriarchal setup, is imperative.
Once we identify the ‘enemy’, the fight will become easier. Social media is a boon that has paved way for considerable divulgence to such ideas. It connects people around the world through experiences, information and testimonies that can have a great impact. And such an ideological shift at the micro-level can surely help reap gigantic fruits in coming years, producing aware women who can identify and speak up boldly against the wrongdoings and say ‘no’ to ‘sacrifices’ that only feed the bellies of the ferociously stereotypical society.
The author is a student at St Teresa School, Ghaziabad. Views are personal.