Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Shut Up!

***A silver-haired, frail, wrinkled 80-year-young saying, “So what, so what if he hit her? He’s her husband...She doesn’t have the liberty to walk away from him...just because he hit her...”***

When the world and its wife is busy discussing women empowerment, we Indians, we should just shut the hell up! There, I said it!

We live in a country where girls are moulded to be future wives, future daughters-in-law; we live in a country, where stuck between an auto with a beedi-smoking driver and a shady, deserted street, is as good as being stuck between the devil himself and the deep sea; we live in a country, where most men (yes, most) want their wives to be sitas in public and shielas in the comfort of their bedrooms; we live in a country, where ‘never raped’ will become a criteria for matrimonial ads; where women hold belans more than pens; where wedding bells go hand-in-hand with the dying gasps of a career; where, ‘girls from good families’ adhere to whatever the husband says and where, what the husband says is ‘final and binding’....

We live in a country where women are judged by what they wear; where even a 10th fail wants a bride who is sushil (docile, domestic, dumb), sundar (fair, tall, with a 36-24-36 figure) and padhi likhi (no, no, no, 10th pass won’t suffice. Minimum graduation chahiye); where grooms are sold for dowry; where wife-beating is a birthright; where the wife has to put up with any crap the husband pulls off; where girls are pensive before venturing out; where a ‘Nirbhaya’ has to die often, to remind people of the atrocities women are subject to..

If you’re picturing me either as an aggressive bra-burning feminist, or a domestic, scared wife/daughter-in-law, I think this is the time I clarify. No, I don’t belong to either category. I’m a simple woman, a happy wife and a happier daughter-in-law. The only thing I have an issue with is, when people say we have to enforce laws and bills and acts to secure women’s rights. That, I feel, is utter bull shit.

They say charity begins at home...I say, why just charity? Let everything begin at home. Indian women are brought up to become good wives. And these ‘good wives’ are the ones who prefer getting flogged and thrown around by their husbands, to holding the helping hands of the police. Even if no one expects women to take full responsibility of the household, there are some, who are happy to puncture big holes in the chairs they hold, and crib about it ten years down the line. We can’t expect sweeping changes to happen overnight...there will be rapists, there will be wife-beaters, there will be road-side romeos...we can’t go all out to put every single one of them behind the bars.

We can only change the way our families function. No, I’m not all for making women the head of the family. All I’m saying is, let us not make the aata and the detergent powder the identity of women. Instead, give her wings, let her be free to take up a career of her choice, to break the shackles of ‘girls from good families don’t behave like this’, without making the ‘silver heads’ nod in disapproval.

But, as I said, we live in a country where ‘log kya kahenge’ matters more than anything else. Yes, there has been progress, but deep down, we women, we feel guilty when we send our husbands to office without lunch; when fathers are doing the dishes; when brothers have to cook their own maggi...It’ll take a long time before we can shed these emotions, and emerge as stronger and more detached people...There’s no use blaming others...the cocoon of our mindset is so strong, even Ambuja Cement would be ashamed. No bill, no law, no act can whip up a miracle, unless we and our families decide to help ourselves and incorporate tiny changes in the way we live.

Till then, when others are busy discussing about women empowerment, we Indians, we should just shut the hell up!