When it is about defining oneself, the toughest part is combating the prejudices, based on your gender, choices and beliefs. Prejudices of society reflect its conventional roots in openly accepting diverse identities. If society cannot stop judging people and demotivating them, then the onus is on free minds to assert their identity and tackle with these prejudices. If there is a bold, confident and self-appreciative reply to all the prejudices, society will be out of negative and narrow ideas to judge anyone. SheThePeople shares conservation with two such free and bold personalities who love their identity and know how to stand by it. The fabulous actress and writer Kalki Koechlin and the bold Bollywood actress Sandhya Mridul shared some sarcastic and defiant replies to the common stereotypes and prejudices of society based on gender, body size, sexuality and personal choices. Besides being sarcastically humorous, the conversation slighted many prejudices with the replies that reflect agency and confidence.

“Your bra-strap is showing”

Women are always forced to dress decently and all covered up. The restrictions on short dresses, deep-necks are common. A woman whose dress is above the knee or below the shoulder straightaway puts her through a judgmental lens of the society. She is categorised under everything that is vulgar, bad and unacceptable. Since ages, women have been kept hidden in purdah, veils and dupattas. When a woman’s dress reveals too much, she is criticised as against the tradition, the toxic modernity or in the worst case, she is immoral or inviting male attention. Why do women have to be apologetic for the way they dress?  Replying sarcastically to the comment on her revealing bra strap, Kalki, while pulling her top wear down, sarcastically says, “Oh, I am sorry!”

“Women in India are always told and advised what to do. I am not going to do that. You do what you want to do.”                        – Kalki Koechlin

“Women are too emotional”

The prejudice that women are weak, sensitive and emotional has been ingrained so deep in the minds of people that these qualities are seen as a characteristic of their gender. This not only undermines the independence and power of a woman but also stereotypes men as essentially strong and one who never cries. A man who is crying is perceived as something really important that requires immediate attention as it melted down a “strong man.” Besides, because of these stereotypes, men who are emotional are not able to express it with the fear that they will be bullied as “weak as a woman.”  The problem here is that being emotional is related to being weak. If a person is emotional, he or she is capable of expressing the feelings (of joy, grief or anger) and thoughts openly rather than stacking it up or bearing it like a silent victim. Drawing on the same line, Kalki and Snadhya gave us some brilliant replies.

When commented that women are emotional, Kalki replies that women need to express and they have the freedom to express however they want.  Besides, Sandhya Mridul says, “Yes we are emotional and we love it. Take off your armour and accept however we are.”

Besides, to the comment that women can’t see a man crying, Sandhya says right away that she needs to get a life! A man or a woman can be emotional, ambitious or anything they want. No one is more emotional or less ambitious. It is how one makes choices and defines life.

 Do flings define a woman’s character?

Barney in ‘How I Met Your Mother’ was as legendary in his flings as was Robin. Why do flings have to be a judging scale for women and not for men? Why does a woman who has been with more than one man can never be viewed as a positive or normal person? To this stereotype, Sandhya gives a sarcastic reply saying, “Of course flings define woman’s character! It shows that she can do whatever she wants and no one can stop her.”

“Yes we are emotional and we love it. Take off your armour and accept however we are.” –  Sandhya Mridul

Women should be married before they turn 30

The problematic age limits up to which a woman must get married are nothing but Patriarchal ideas of defining marriage as the ultimate goal of a woman’s life. Women in many houses are forced to get married at a much earlier age, irrespective of whether she has achieved her dreams. In fact, some women are married off while they are still a child. While on the other hand men are not forced with such burdens about marriage. This inequality puts women and their ambitions at stake.

Replying to this stereotype, Kalki says, “I got married before 30, got divorced within a year, the advice did not work for me.”

Also Read: Kalki Koechlin Chooses A Gender Neutral Name For Her Baby

Watch the full conversation here:

Women should not talk about periods in front of men

Periods have always been a social stigma though it is just another natural phenomenon of the body. Some women still shy away from talking about periods in public or in front of men. It is ingrained in their minds that periods are “impure” and if they talk about it in openly, they will be judged. To this age-old prejudice, Kalki replies, “Why should a woman refrain from talking about periods? It is a monthly occurrence and I will talk about it with everybody.” While Sandhya Mridul rightly says, “Talk about your periods wherever you want, whenever want.”

I don’t wanna date her…she is fat

Body shaming is a serious prejudice that has the worst consequences on the victim. When any person is criticised for his or her body size, it makes her doubt herself and eventually try to become someone that she never was. Everybody is beautiful. Besides, the size of her body doesn’t define her identity or preference. If a woman embraces her body, however it is, body shaming becomes hollow and only reflects the insecurity and narrow mentality of society. So embrace your body.  And we have Sandhya Mridul’s words for it.

“Why should a woman refrain from talking about periods? It is a monthly occurrence and I will talk about it with everybody.”- Kalki

I can date her but she is not marriage material

The double standard of society is the common prejudice that an empowered woman comes across in society. A woman who is docile, not outspoken and depends on her male counterparts are termed as suitable for marriage. In fact, many houses train their girls to be shy, speak less and accept whatever men say. This comes from the conventional patriarchal idea of a marriage where the husband is like God and the woman’s duty is to serve them. When a woman starts to stand for herself, do what she wants, she is judged as immoral because she is unconventional. There comes the hypocritical difference between an empowered woman if voice and the silent complicit or victim of patriarchy. Better to have dreams and chase it rather than living at the tips of other people who try to define other’s life. As Kalki says, “If she is good for dating and not for marriage, then you will have a very boring marriage.” While Sandhya says, “Thank you so much that I am not marriage material. I would’ve hated being married to you.”

Why do women spend so much in lingerie?

Incredulous but this is also a prejudice against women! Men have a peculiar affiliation for women’s lingerie which ultimately ends in objectifying women in their inner wear. Women are prejudiced that their flamboyant dressing and the time and money they spend on it is only attract male attention. Well, can it not be otherwise, that they simply like to look good? Why should everything end at male attention? Replying to this stereotype, Sandhya says, “We women like to take interest in the self that we do not post for public opinion.”

Then how do you deal with the male attention?

Kalki says, “That depends on the situation! Sometimes I smile, sometimes I frown and sometimes I give it back!”

Stereotypes about Bollywood

Bollywood has always been attacked for objectifying women, perpetuating stereotypes, normalising beauty standards and discriminate others. Replying to what she dislikes in Bollywood, Sandhya said that Bollywood stereotypes several ideas, it compels women to always look good and that makes Bollywood a problematic space.

“It is good to hear from men that they want to empower women. But we are independent and capable of doing that on our own, men should empower themselves.” – Sandhya

 What do you think about the LGBTQ community?

With the decriminalisation of Article 377 and the controversy on the transgender bill has allowed freedom and recognition to the LGBTQ community to speak for or against anything. As Kalki says, “It is wonderful to see them speak and stand for themselves. I am looking forward to seeing more of them writing, performing and speaking in the film industry.”

While Sandhya says, “We love them, we are all same and we all have dreams and desires. It is never good to judge people or their choices.”

Message for the women of India

Kalki Koechlin says, “Women in India are always told and advised what to do. I am not going to do that. You do what you want to do.”

Sandhya Mridul says, “Consider yourself equal and then you will be treated like one.”

Message for men in India

Kalki says, “I think it will be nice if Men should first love the person and then the gender.”

While, Sandhya says, “It is good to hear from men that they want to empower women. But we are independent and capable of doing that on our own, men should empower themselves.”

Also Read: Forcefully Kissing Women Is A Crime Which Can’t Be Sugarcoated

Rudrani Kumari is an intern with SheThePeople.TV

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