For women, especially living in a conservative society such as ours, criticism in any and every aspect of life is never far. There is a long list of norms by which society expects us to live our lives. Sometimes it gets tiring to abide by these rules, while on other occasions it becomes a matter of existence and identity to challenge patriarchy. After all, one can either rebel and be happy, or eat, dress, live, work and behave as per social norms and feel suffocated. With more women challenging out-dated traditions, it had emerged as a favourite pass-time among a lot of people to criticise all the choices that women make. But should we take all the loathing to our heart, or give it back to the haters, or simply develop a thick-skin?

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Women are engaged in an unending battle against sexist criticism.
  • But is it an obligation to fight every battle that presents itself to us?
  • Developing a thick-skin takes away the power to rile you up from other people.
  • Besides, there is always another day and another time to lash out.

On many days, it becomes too much to draw arms against everyone, which may also lead to discord at home if it upsets dynamics in the family.

While the option to give it back to haters seems tempting, just hear me out on the benefits of developing a thick-skin and carrying on. For starters, one needs to know where to draw the line. No one should ever endure abuse, violence or unwanted sexual advances of any kind. It is imperative to raise your voice on issues where your safety, integrity and even well-being is on the line. But then not every battle that women have to fight against patriarchy is intense and fearsome. Often we face oppression in a more subtle form, where jibes and snide remarks try to discourage us from claiming our agency. It hurts more when such comments and criticism comes from those close to you. Isn’t it easier to hit back at a stranger on the Internet for his or her sexist remarks, than shoot down your brother-in-law or friend for a generalising remark on the driving skills of women? Besides, there are just so many battles a woman can fight. On many days, it becomes too much to draw arms against everyone, which may also lead to discord at home if it upsets dynamics in the family.

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It is on days like these that the art of being thick-skinned comes to your rescue. Learn to scroll past a stupid remark you read on social media if you don’t have the energy to engage in a digital war. Your neighbouring auntyji doesn’t approve of the neck-line of your t-shirt, or the fact that you work, or that you exist? Just give her a generous smile and carry on living your fabulous life. Fed up of the colleague who wouldn’t stop commenting on how “loud” your lipstick is? Why not make it a quote shinier sitting right next to him?

Keep in mind that there are nearly half a billion women in our country, most of whom do not shy away from embracing feminism. The battles you choose not to fight will be picked up by them.

Women tend to tire themselves out fighting patriarchy and sexism every single day. The wear out is natural and we stand at the risk of losing our enthusiasm to advocate gender equality altogether, from sheer lack of stamina. This is why one needs to pick one’s battle and learn to dodge the rest. Besides, being thick skinned takes away the power to rile you up from other people. So, have a control on what can bother you and what can’t.

Keep in mind that there are nearly half a billion women in our country, most of whom do not shy away from embracing feminism. The battles you choose not to fight will be picked up by them. Besides, there’s always another day to lash out at a nasty comment or counter a sexist joke.

Image Credit: Hindustan Times

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Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are author’s own.

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