Yesterday, I came across a news in which Anne Hathaway revealed that when she was 16, an interviewer asked her if she was a good girl or a bad girl. I don’t know what she replied to it but it is obvious for most of us to understand where this is going. A good girl is one who is sanskari, obeys patriarchy and never revolts. But a bad girl is every other girl who dares to speak. And being a bad girl is a sin in our society.
Before going any further, let me ask you one question- How many times men have been asked whether they are good or bad? Our society goes by the belief that if men are bad, it is not their fault because ‘men will be men’. But women can’t be something other than the way they have been moulded according to the likeability of the patriarchal society. If a woman is not liked by patriarchy, it becomes very difficult for her to survive. Not that patriarchy ties a belt around their neck literally, but metaphorically it does.
A woman who is not liked by patriarchy is shamed as unsanskari. She is shamed for being rebellious and speaking her mind. If a woman doesn’t follow patriarchal rules, her safety too is compromised. Haven’t we come across cases in which women were harassed or murdered just because they refused to marry, raised their voices against wrong and demanded their rights? But what is the reason behind all this? Why does patriarchy demand women to be obedient while men are given the freedom to go astray?
Here is why – in our society women are supposed to be likeable. They are supposed to go behind patriarchy’s validation in order to live peacefully. Their actions, decisions, marriage, career and everything should be according to patriarchal norms. A woman is supposed to owe her life to patriarchy because it has allowed women to survive despite being subservient.
It is this pressure of likeability that forces women to sew their lips, hates their bodies and refuse to demand their rights. Because women want to seek patriarchal validation, they compete with women and pull each other down. They pedestal men as the king who gets to approve of who deserves respect and acceptance and who doesn’t. This likeability culture further emphasises the domination of men in society and of course the oppression of women.
Don’t Go Behind Patriarchy’s Validation
But dear women, it is not necessary for you to be liked by patriarchy. In fact, it is good if it doesn’t like you. Patriarchy distorts the meaning and relevance of women’s existence. It distorts the purpose with which a woman is born. It subsumes everything under one umbrella- taking care of men. A woman has to be beautiful, caring, a virgin and sanskari so that they can serve men physically.
Is this right? Should a woman’s life be subsumed under the role of being the caretaker of men? Don’t women have their own identities, ambitions and life? Don’t deserve the right to be free as a bird without being at the nozzle of the patriarchy?
So dear women, don’t be discouraged if you are against patriarchy. Don’t be discouraged if it calls you ugly, fat, irresponsible, selfish or rebellious. In fact, be proud that you have a different identity that challenges the standards of patriarchy. By owning your life and choices, put an example of women can go against patriarchal standards and norms and still be proud and happy.
Views expressed are the author’s own.
Suggested Reading: Is She Aggressive Or Just Assertive? The Sexist Standards Women In Leadership Face