The sacrifices women make for others are always romanticised. I have often heard people giving examples of how women from the old generation kept their lives on hold for the sake of family. This celebration of sacrifices is especially done to shame women today, who are not ready to adjust. They get criticised for being selfish and prioritising their needs and desires. But why is sacrifice a parameter for being labelled a good woman? Why can’t a good woman be the one who will never settle for less?
Today, I came across a tweet in which a man was celebrating mothers or women of the older generation for balancing jobs and housework so well. The tweet also shamed women who use their money to buy their happiness. “Our moms were the real generation of strong independent women bro they worked their shifts and did housework and kept everything in check! All These sistas know how to do is make a buck and spend it on fudu shit lol,” read the tweet. What is the problem if a woman shops a lot? It is her money and she has the right to spend it in the way she wants. What’s the real issue here? A women’s shopaholic attitude or her refusal to sacrifice her needs to make other’s lives convenient?
In our society, women are indoctrinated with the idea of sacrifice since childhood. They are told that a woman who sacrifices as bahu, mothers and wives, especially for men, is the one who will gain rewards from society. Even in the marriage market women who are willing to sacrifice their careers are celebrated and demanded by every family. How can families be so selfish as to live off the sacrifices of women? How can they be so insensitive as to not allow women to take care of their needs and desires? How can they celebrate the idea that women do not deserve to take care of themselves?
Part of the problem is that women themselves internalise these ideas and weave their identities around them. I have heard several women say “Parivaar ki khushi mein hmari khushi hai” or do things like ignoring their health and overworking themselves.
But dear women, do you realise the harm that you are causing yourself by internalising these ideas? If you don’t value your life, society never will. And by sacrificing yourself, you are only supporting patriarchy that treats women as disposable and replaceable members of a family. So start reclaiming your rights. Don’t give up your dreams and desires. Follow your ambition, earn money, buy things and celebrate your life. You deserve to celebrate your independence and freedom as much as men do.
As for our society, it needs to stop romanticising women’s sacrifice. Women are not machines that must function non-stop, based on others’ convenience. There is nothing wrong with prioritising one’s health, job, needs and desires, this holds true for every person, irrespective of their gender. A woman is good even if she refuses to sacrifice and claims the right to be treated equally. A woman is good if she wants freedom from all patriarchal restrictions. If society only celebrates the sacrifice of older generations’ women, how will they see the successful women of the present generation? How will the idea of a good woman evolve?
Views expressed are the author’s own.