Happy Independence Day, India

She’s too skinny, she’s too fat, she’s too flat.

She’s too curvy, have you seen her clothes?

Have you seen her hang out with boys she barely even knows?

This one is a gold digger. That one only works. She can never get married unless she wipes of that smirk.

Doesn’t she know she’s a girl? She can’t behave like this.

Yes, she knows. She knows who she is.

She is she. She is herself. She owns who she is and she loves herself. You cannot change that with your tiny mind and small self-esteem. Let her be, let her breathe. Live your own life and respect her individuality; because she is she.

Watch the video below. 

In a country that claims to have gained independence 70 years ago, when will it’s women finally feel free?

Knock, Knock – Can I Be Let Out Of Jail?

On 16th December 2012, a 23-year-old girl was gang raped on a moving bus in New Delhi, the proud capital city of India. Not long after this happened, the streets of Delhi erupted with protests and the perpetrators of this heinous crime were arrested. This case though was not the first of its kind, and unfortunately, it wasn’t the last. Yet, when the news of this horrible crime broke out, women and men alike came onto the streets, and perhaps for the first time, there was a feeling amongst the masses that this girl, this young girl who could have been so many things in a life that was taken away from her, could have been their own daughter, sister, friend. There seemed to be a consensus for the first time in a long time, that this sickening crime was not the woman’s fault. That she didn’t “ask” for it. 

Or so some of us thought.

This atmosphere of grief, protest, anger and staunch disapproval that was created by something so vile soon seemed to be dampened as the focus shifted from fighting the crime to fighting people who seemed to think it wasn’t a crime at all. Politicians, men who claim to be men of God, religious leaders with their followers in millions, lawyers, some of whom practised in the supreme court, men you’d think were educated and progressive and here to drive change – all came together to once again remind us that this place that we live in and think of as home, it isn’t a place for women at all.

What impels me to bring this up today, 5 years after many of us thought that change was just around the corner? 5 years after parents of daughters had finally begun to hope that the system was on their side, that their trepidation could perhaps, at last, be put to rest. It’s the disconsolate fact that nothing has changed; at least not for the better.

5 years, 60 months, 1825 days and hundreds of protests and marches later, we’re still where we were. A case in example is that of a girl called Varnika Kundu, a resident of Chandigarh, which I must stress at this point is known to be one of the safer cities in northern India. Only a few days ago, chased by goons in a car while Varnika herself was driving home shortly past midnight; she’s been at the end of slander and criticism because she was out by herself past midnight! What an atrocious crime for a woman to commit, right? To think that she could be safe all by herself after the sun has gone down? To think she has the right to freely move around in a country she was born and raised in without having to think what time it is? To think she could have the same rights and freedom as the men in this country. 

The reality of this world in front of her, Varnika has still fought hard and refuses to give up and let these perpetrators get away. While she’s extremely courageous, strong and has made some amazingly valid points at a time that one can only imagine being distressing – and while some nincompoops insist on trying to shame her for simply living her own life on her own terms – Varnika is also extremely lucky. Yes, she’s lucky because she had the sensibility and awareness to get away and save herself, but she’s also lucky that she can voice her opinion and stand strongly behind it with the support of her family. Most women in our country cannot and do not. 

While it’s sad that being able to say what you think, be who you are and do what you want as a woman is considered lucky and not just a basic right even today, it is the harsh reality. A reality that just does not seem to dim away.

There are thousands of barbaric criminals in our country that commit unthinkable crimes against women – and yet, they get to walk freely and live their lives by virtue of being a politicians son, a rich businessman’s brother or just because so many women are suppressed enough to forget that they have a voice too. If you ask me truthfully, I’ve almost given up on the idea of these hooligans rotting in jail for the rest of their lives. I ask only, that I am let out of it.

 

What Women Want

A few days ago as I sat in bed flipping channels, holding a jar of Nutella in one hand and my TV remote in the other, I came across a movie I suddenly remembered I loved watching as a child; What Women Want. The movie stars my all-time crush, Mel Gibson (and Helen Hunt) and of course as the name suggests, it’s all about how his character in the film, a typical male chauvinist (obviously), finally discovers what women really want.

This movie got me thinking, as do most things in life nowadays. What do women really want? Is there a specific set of requirements that we as a gender actually have? Is it so easy to pen down what men want? Is that why that’s never a question? Or is it just that what men really want is never given that much of a thought? Are they just so easy to interpret or are they so complicated that no one even wants to try figuring their brains out? Either way, the hullabaloo over the question of what women want really amuses me. We’re not that complicated.

After a little bit of effort to shake off these random thoughts, I actually sat and tried to think of what I as a woman want. I came up with a list of things that when I read out loud to myself, seemed too petty. See, I realised soon enough, though, why that was. My list entirely consisted of what I as a woman would want in a partner. I felt ashamed because I think of myself as a strong independent woman who, yes, just like everyone else wants a happy relationship with someone who they can love and cherish; but at the same time, I have never wanted my life to be about just that relationship. I couldn’t have been too hard on myself, though, because that is what us women are conditioned to think like. That is what we are taught to want. A good man, a beautiful home, so on and so forth. So yes, that was my instinctive thought process, and then there’s the thought process that I have inculcated in my life.

So take two; what do women really want? Yes, I mean other than loyalty and flowers. It didn’t take me long to pen this down either. Actually, it was easier than the first list.

Number 1 – To Feel Safe

That sounds simple enough, right? Unfortunately in the world that we live in, it only sounds simple. It is a far away dream that keeps my mother awake every single night.

Should a girl, just 13, really have to worry that a strap of the bra that society deems so important to wear might actually attract unwanted attention and be the potential cause of sexual harassment?

Should a young woman, of merely 25, really have to think twice every single time she wants to step out of her house after dark? Should her life depend on the grace of the sun?

Should a mother to a newborn girl really have to worry about leaving her alone with a distant relative for just 5 minutes?

Is that really the kind of world we want to live in?

Number 2 – To Not Be Judged

For every single move that she makes.

It can’t be that hard, can it?

Why does my stomach, bare in a sari not give rise to the demon in you when just the nape of my neck in a plain white T-shirt might? Who are you? Why is your mind so impure?

Why does the thought of a woman staying on with a man that abuses her give you more comfort than the thought of her moving on to another man that loves and cherishes her? Is it because you thought that the holy fire was somehow more sacred than her self-respect?

Why do you think that the successful woman spending hours working hard to give her family a better life is a bad mother? Why do you think she slept her way to the top? Does she scare you? Does her power intimidate you?

Number 3 – To Feel Free

Here’s a harsh reality of being a woman; most people you meet don’t respect you. In fact, they analyse the daylights out of how you speak, eat, sit, stand, what you look and smell like, all while you’re probably talking to them about a potential business idea.

How can I feel free if I don’t feel respected?

How can a girl walking to school feel free when men her father’s age look at her like she’s meant to be devoured?

How can a girl who just learnt how to drive feel free when she’s told women aren’t good drivers anyway?

How can a girl who wants to study or pursue a career feel free when she’s told that she can’t because this is her age to get married?

How can a woman who was made to get married at that “right” age feel free when she wants to walk out of that marriage and can’t; because she wasn’t allowed to lead a life of financial independence?

It’s this simple. Really. The answer to this question. What women want is so so simple, and yet it seems so unachievable. Like they say though, life is nothing without hope and a little bit of hard work. So I suppose that’s where the answer lies. 

Love, peace and the freedom of choice. Here’s my wish for you until my next post.