It is just another normal day to recount the crap social media throws at women. In a bizarre tweet directed at journalist Vidya Krishnan, some random Twitter user has used the term ‘hairy feminist journalist,’ adding a bunch of absurd assumptions around reproduction. The tweet sparks yet another conversation on how society expects women to fit into a mould. And god forbid if we stray, even for a moment, from what society deems “normal”, we’ll be implored to come back to the “right” way of doing things.
A very recent conversation with a friend made me question these societal moulds, and how it is expected of us to conform to them. My friend, let’s call her P, is past her ‘marriageable age,’ is working at a big firm, and wants to study more. P and I grew up together, know each other’s families and spent a good chunk of our childhood years competing academically with one another. She was and has always been the brightest among the two of us. Hence, when she called me up to rant about her parents and their constant pressure for her to ‘marry and settle down’, I knew something was wrong. P was never the one to conform and agree, she lived on her own conditions. ‘Whenever I try to speak my mind, they called me stubborn, and talk of ‘marrying me off’, as if I am a burden to them,’ she told me once.
It is sad to think that society equates openness to stubbornness, condemning our choices and boxing us into these preconceived moulds.
Stop boxing us into categories
It is impolite to speak too much, laugh loudly, dress like a boy and god forbid don’t answer back. ‘Stop behaving like a headstrong feminist?’ is what you hear when you share an opinion. What are these labels and who made them?
It’s not with behavioural patterns that society moralises, women are raised to live up to unrealistic beauty standards too. They are expected to be hairless all over their body, have to be slim with no tummy but a big butt, smell like daisies and roses all the time, not have regular bodily fluids and gases, and be all-around perfect. It is obviously impractical to live up to something so unobtainable. Having a normalised yet extraordinary societal implication drilled into you as soon as you are out of the womb is and can be mentally and physically draining.
Breaking societal mould
While on one hand, we grew up getting ready to become successful women gainfully employed or running a business and in control of our own lives where we were free to make our own choices, on another end, many of us are burdened to become the perfect wife, the perfect mother — because that is what this society expects of us. And if we aren’t all of those, then we are called out, shamed and bullied openly and loudly.
These categories do nothing to help but enable a system of social inequality that allows people to decide quickly what they can expect from a person, and how they should deal with them. Hence, it gets easier for men to call out women who chose to break out of that suffocating mould and chose to trailblaze on their own path. Because someone denouncing their ‘so-called rules’ makes them angry, and uncomfortable.
To the ones who break free, I have nothing but respect and love for your courage and drive. Go be who you want to be and do what you want to do and find your happiness your own way. Because to a growing tribe, you are not a tomboy, ambitious, opinionated, or other such labels. You are just a force that is unstoppable!