Don’t Romanticise Women’s Sacrifices: Their Happiness Matters Too
Indian society believes in romanticizing sacrifices. It especially celebrates women who sacrifice their happiness for the sake of their families. In fact, we are expected to think of it as our duty. However, nobody bothers to consider the consequences that us women have to bear to fulfill these expectations. When my parents asked me to pursue a career in Science, I couldn’t go against their wish, because it meant being disrespectful. I wanted to pursue Psychology, but my wish got engulfed by the stereotypical belief that Arts is for kids who aren’t “intelligent” and my uncle said, ” You’re a bright kid. You should not pursue Psychology. Science is the subject for you,” and I complied. But what next? Despite being in the top one percent of students in the 12th board exams, my grades in graduation dropped drastically. That is when I realized that sacrificing your aspirations to appease your parents is not really a good idea.
After my grades dropped, my parents weren’t happy and neither was I. I couldn’t go back and change things, but I could change my future. I decided to appear for management aptitude tests. Since I belong to a state board school, I was quite nervous about the verbal section. But ultimately, I scored 99.16 Percentile in CAT VARC Section, with 95.88 percentile overall. This is what happens when you decide not to sacrifice your aspirations. But does every woman have the agency to make this call? How many women in our society can put their foot down and prioritise themselves over their family and social expectations? Who can say it out loud, “I will not sacrifice. I will do what makes me happy.”
The gendered expectations need to stop, your mother’s or wife’s or daughter’s sacrifices isn’t a cause for celebration. Women, undoubtedly, deserve much better.
Sacrifices Are The Murdered Aspirations
Sacrifice runs in our blood, or rather, genes. An average girl in India grows up watching women around her sacrificing their happiness and needs for the “greater good” and then begins to emulate that behaviour. As a daughter, she sacrifices her educational aspirations to resonate with what her parents want. As a wife, she prioritizes her husband’s and in-laws’ likes and requirements. As a mother, her children’s happiness becomes her top priority. The romanticisation of sacrifices must have started with motherhood, but now it is a part and parcel of every woman and girl’s life. We start referring to her as ‘Balidan ki moorat’ (the embodiment of sacrifices). But is this celebration legit? Aren’t we actually celebrating the massacre of dreams and the fact that these women who couldn’t live their life the way they desired?
The romanticisation of sacrifice is society’s way to make up for what it did to a woman’s life and that is exactly why we need to stop the celebration. Innumerable girls have been pushed, rather cheered into doing things they don’t want to. The gendered expectations need to stop, your mother’s or wife’s or daughter’s sacrifices shouldn’t be celebrated, it is not normal and our women, undoubtedly deserve much better.
Why does being a good mother or daughter or wife requires a woman to annihilate her entire personality?
Her Happiness matters
Remember when Shahid Kapoor’s wife Mira Rajput said that women who stay at home and look after their children deserve to be celebrated? That is when she highlighted the mentality that wants women to prioritize everything but not their own aspirations. But times have changed. Society needs to accept that a woman shouldn’t have to sacrifice her career for motherhood. That a wife can prioritise her happiness over that of her in-laws and husbands and it is not wrong. That a daughter isn’t empowered unless she has the liberty to choose her own path in life and career.
Don’t get me wrong. Sacrifices are a part of relationships. But who sacrifices what shouldn’t always be based on gender. Besides, sacrifice and love are two separate things. If daughters, wives and mothers refuse to sacrifice their happiness it doesn’t mean that they don’t love their family. It just means that their happiness matters and that it is unfair to put terms and conditions on it.
The views expressed are the author’s own.