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As A Woman Why Must I Suffer The Pressure To Do Well in Studies?

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Sometimes I just can’t digest the fact that the upbringing of children in Indian families is gendered is so many ways. One can’t realise it without questioning what is the normal then? As the results of many competitive exams surfaced, with girls outshining boys in most of them, I had a flashback to my childhood. I was always a ‘good’ student scoring more than 95 per cent and anything below it was not acceptable. But on the other hand, my younger brother couldn’t score more than 70-80 per cent. It is one thing that different people have different capabilities which cannot be measured in marks. But it is entirely another idea when being academically good is seen from a gendered lens.

If a girl is being educated, the expectations from her are always high. The major reason behind this is the idea that not all women get education. Or as patriarchy would say, women do not deserve or need education. Amidst this dominant idea, if a family is affording the education of a woman, she should be excellent at it. Otherwise, the money spent on her education is seen as a waste. Parents would rather prefer to save the money for her marriage. While boys on the other hand are educated no matter what because they will be the support of the parents in the future. It is only ironic because the widely believed stereotype is that boys are brazen who never concentrate on studies but girls are quiet, don’t play and always excel in studies.

Also Read: National Education Policy 2020: Things You Should Know

Why do parents have different expectations from girls and boys? Or let me rephrase it, why do families have high expectations from girls? Why should girls be perfect in everything- whether it is studies, housework or being nice to others? As far as education is concerned, why should a woman be the best in order to deserve it?

It is a very common phenomenon of pedestaling woman as someone who is naturally hardworking, multitasking, kind with maternal instincts. And so it is seen as normal for a woman to be excellent in studies, and if not that, then certainly she cooks delicious meal. What if a woman is not the idealised “normal”? Is she wrong, abnormal or troublemaker? Or just a human making her own choices and wishing for a simple life? These ideas are nothing but a tactic of patriarchy to determine the limits of how empowered a woman can be. By setting up expectations and criteria for a woman to meet in order to gain education patriarchy deprives them of their basic right. The constitution has deemed every citizen as capable of gaining education and at least the basic education is compulsory for everyone. Then why should girls be excellent to deserve education?

Moreover, since women are seen as the marginalised section of the society, it is normalised that women will have to try the harder way to get basic things.

And so even mothers who support their daughters tend to pressurise them to act, behave or pursue certain things in order to be respected and empowered. They expect them to be good not only in studies and career but housework also.  Many mothers, including mine, are so conscious of their daughters’ lives  that they forget about the daughters’ own dreams, desires and expectations from life. My mother for instance wants me get a PhD and become a lecturer. This job, she says, will give me more respect, money and comfort as a woman. While she blindly dismisses any other career option as unsuitable or not safe for women. Although the intention of the mothers is to see their daughters empowered, they have internalised that it is a privilege for women and they have to sacrifice and toil hard for it. But what kind of empowerment is it if women do not have the freedom to own their life choices?

We have crossed miles through feminist movements and women empowerment that gave us so many women role models to get inspiration from. But what is still absent is the idea of considering women as a normal human with aims and dreams although in a different body. If that would be the reality, women wouldn’t have been burdened with so many unrealistic expectations. No normal human can be excellent in studies all the time, except in rare and extraordinary cases. No normal human can be so brisk and active that he or she can power through both job and housework without a gasp. No normal human should be expected to live a life where even education is conditional, let alone owning the body and choices. And so it is significant for a woman to be seen as a human first who has imperfections, commits mistakes but still deserves to be respected.

Views are the author’s own