• A woman’s encounter with patriarchy at every step of Indian society

    I am a product of western, colonial education. My mom is a school teacher, because of which I went to some of the best private and missionary schools in the country. I came back home to the same ancient Meta cultural values that were at conflict with my educational values. As a result, I developed the most awful thing that ‘society’ can ever have to face from a youngster, especially a girl- critical thinking. I asked a lot of questions, to many of which I received a frown or silence in response.

    We cannot be patriarchal ourselves to fight against it.

    As the years passed by and I grew older, I moved to Mumbai to pursue my Master’s degree in an area that was of my interest (women centric social practices). My choices have never been fueled by popular narratives. You might be wondering why I am giving you such an extensive background to the main story, so let me just get started. I found a bungalow near my college, where we were about 15 boys and girls peacefully co-existing without causing much hassle. Our weekends were the best- we shared music, aspirations and philosophies, and our arguments were mostly intellectual.  Sometimes we also went to nearby local eateries during the week to enjoy a well-cooked meal (which is rare when you are in college). But that was college, most of us were like minded folks.

    Not that the boys did not smoke, but their smoking and drinking habits were seen as only natural

    I was the only smoker female in the house, which was a bit of a problem for my landlords (not that the boys did not smoke, but their smoking and drinking habits were seen as only natural), but they didn’t really mess with us since they were on the college reference list of accommodations. Also the fact that ours is not a typical institute that prepares you for a specific job, it just prepares you for life’s battles in general.

    After college, when I moved further into the city, I found a place with 3 other women, all of them working. I also got a well-mannered 3 year old beagle boy from my hometown to live with me and keep me company, since I was going to work from home. It was one of the best decisions I made, as it made me more grounded and responsible. In the midst of a bad day clouded with confusion about other worldly things, his company keeps me anchored in this estranged land of locked down houses and souls.

    Now, you need to be very passionate about what you are doing when you work from home, since more often than not, your work and personal life bleed into each other. At least that’s how it was for me. My friends came over and hung out with me as I worked. We went out or sometimes just ordered in, depending upon how mentally consuming my day was. Some of them were men. This was a problem with the people I shared the house with. I tried explaining to them how my life choices or the gender of my friends shouldn’t be a problem as long as it isn’t at contradiction with their personal space.

    That’s the whole problem with this world. There is a right and there is a wrong, just like matter and anti-matter. We are obsessed with the idea pure and profane, what we don’t realize is that one doesn’t exist in opposition to the other, both are separate and not necessarily wrong (if saying everything is right make it controversial). Getting a dog made me all the more problematic as a tenant. As long as you align yourself with societal expectations of ‘the good girl’, there isn’t much of an issue, but the moment you start doing your own thing…

    The problem with our world: there is a right and there is a wrong, just like matter and anti-matter. We are obsessed with the idea pure and profane. 

    The larger problem here is that women don’t stand up for each other. From what I’ve learnt, the sisterhood doesn’t mean much to many ladies/girls/women, probably so because they have lived their life adhering to what was told to them, so much that they are unable to stand someone who stands up for her own, self-determined choices. They choose to oppress at the first chance they get. We will never make any progress as a gender, as long as we are not in this together. We cannot be patriarchal ourselves to fight against it.

    Picture Credit: India.com