Celebrations for Navratri have begun as the revered goddess graces us with her presence. But while we celebrate both her fierce and benevolent avatars, among many others, let us make it a point to do the same for ourselves, and the women around us. You see in India, a woman is only revered as a Devi in her domesticated form. She is a goddess when she provides everyone with food, when she embraces motherhood, and largely a family life with all its virtues. Only then do we see a woman as a goddess. But isn’t there a fierce side to us, the one which we are all conditioned to tame? Do we ever question what we lose by putting reigns on our fierce side?
- During the festival of Navratri, we celebrate the fierce side of the goddess among many others.
- But women are mostly encouraged to “tame” their fierce side.
- They are only revered as goddesses when they embrace their domestic side.
- But embracing your fierce side is the only way we can smash patriarchy and challenge out-dated social norms.
Isn’t there a fierce side to us, the one which we are all conditioned to tame? Do we ever question what we lose by putting reigns on our fierce side?
When have you seen our society appreciate a woman who challenges social norms and embraces her bold and fierce side? When women demand equal rights, equal pay, when they strive to break glass ceilings across various fields, when they reclaim their sexual agency, when they put their passion and profession over family life, all they meet is resistance. Eventually, a lot of women give into the social shaming and pressure and “tame” their fierce side to fit in. Not everyone can deal with being called loud, aggressive, self-centred, dominating, for just choosing to live their lives on their terms.
We all know that patriarchy has a lot to gain from revering us in our domestic avatars. Tell a woman she cooks like a goddess or deify her for embracing motherhood and you’ll put her in a box, breaking which will earn her social critique and tons of guilt. Haven’t a lot of us internalised this revering of our domestic roles? Don’t women battle guilt every time they have to leave their children behind and go to work? Don’t we shame women who say that they can’t cook? Or when they raise their voices during arguments, when they refuse to tap out of arguments or challenge stereotypes and social norms to have their way? Perhaps that is the reason women do not want to be labelled as goddesses today.
We all know that patriarchy has a lot to gain from revering us in our domestic avatars. Tell a woman she cooks like Annapoorna or deify her for embracing motherhood and you’ll put her in a box, breaking which will earn her social critique and tons of guilt.
But this social shaming and internalisation of reverence of our domestic sides costs us. It keeps us from seeing our partners as good caregivers and homemakers. It goads us into settling down for lesser than we deserve. And it also keeps us from tapping our true potential. Which is why, women need to embrace their fierce side instead of restraining it to gain social approval.
If their demands and needs are justified then women shouldn’t have to stop pursuing them just because of their gender. Social expectations from us will stay put because that is the only way we have known society to function. Men step out of the house to earn bread and butter and women stay at home. Men must “provide” women with financial security and keep them safe, while the latter can rear children and tend to household duties. Unless these norms are challenged repeatedly and vociferously by women and men they will stay put.
And what better way to do that by embracing your fierce side? A goddess isn’t always nurturing, she is the destroyer of evil and a protector of the people too. She rides to battlefields to fight demons as and when the need arises. Isn’t it why people largely revere her? Then why must it be any different when it comes womankind? Let us hold our heads high and ride into battlefields of life and reclaim what we have lost. Fight hard for that job that you know that you deserve, don’t hold back your opinion or smother your dreams just because of your gender. Moreover, don’t let anyone shame you into submission. The fierce avatar of the goddess champion virtues and all that we believe is good and right. As women, let’s do the same for ourselves, instead of waiting for someone else to empower us.
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.