Outspoken Women Are Assertive Not Aggressive. Period.

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Outspoken women make you uncomfortable? Do you know who is the worst enemy of patriarchy? A woman who speaks her mind. A woman who has an opinion. A woman who wouldn’t budge from demanding and exercising her rights. But unfortunately, in our patriarchal dominated society, these women are villainised and rendered as a threat to the harmony of the society. But dear readers, ask yourself, is demanding equal and basic rights a crime? Is being assertive about opinions, birthrights and talents an unforgivable mistake? Just why are outspoken women rendered as aggressive, uncouth and abnormal?

Since childhood women are bred to be silent and sacrificing idols with no vision and voice of their own. They are indoctrinated with the belief that a good woman conforms to male dominance without any if or but. Sharm and lihaaz are projected to be their gehanas but they are never allowed to decide whether they want to wear those or not. They are not allowed to decide what they want from their lives, whether it is education, employment or, one of the most basic needs of human survival, the freedom to opine and choose.

Expressing desires, opinions and choices are rendered as unfeminine but when it comes to men, the same expression turns into their birthright. Why are we still reeling under these gender biases and double standards? Today when women have engraved their names in the field of science, literature, philosophy and leadership, why still outspoken women make society uncomfortable? Why still for women assertiveness is equivalent to being aggressive?

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We are not blind to the rising number of cases of crime against women, most of which are committed just because a woman refused to conform and wanted to speak up. The most recent example of this is the Anti-CAA and NRC protests at Shaheen Bagh and deemed Universities of India which became both the site of defiance and oppression for women.

Many were shamed, arrested and trolled for their outspokenness just because they were women. Remember how Aishe Ghosh and Safoora Zargar were subjected to gendered shaming because they were assertive women?

These cases of trolling of outspoken activists and female actors manage to make headlines almost every day. But you don’t even have to look that far to understand this gender bias because it thrives in our houses and workplaces itself. How many women today are free enough to question the decisions imposed upon them by their families? How many women are handed over the mic to express their opinions and ideas at the workplace?

Even if some women manage to achieve higher positions, how many of them are respected and heard? Aren’t women asked to normalise silence and conformity to be acceptable in society? Simultaneously when men speak up, their opinions are heard, respected and implemented as golden rules. When men speak up, it becomes their right. But women seeking freedom to assert themselves are unwelcomed and looked down upon.

It is high time we understand that speaking up, asserting rights and opinions is the birthright of every human born in our country. It was a rule of the older times when women had to be behind purdahs and assume silence on the country, work and family politics. Men’s opinions and decisions were lines on stones in a time when women weren’t capable of making their own decisions.

But today, the case is different. More and more women are pursuing education and freedom and some are even outshining men in various fields. Then why should we hold on to tad old concepts to understand the modern world? If  assertive women disturb the harmony of the society, it is time we question our concept of harmony which is just mirage in the dreary desert of patriarchy. Step inside the looking glass of modernity and you will find how everything is opposite yet more meaningful than the world outside of it.

Views expressed are the author’s own.