It was a bright Sunday morning. Fresh, sunny and upbeat. Sometimes you don’t look beautiful but feel like one. That’s the time when you are worth capturing even if the picture doesn’t come out to be perfect. One such day it was. One beautiful morning, I went to my balcony to feel the wind gushing my cheeks, flattening it. I wanted to open my arms and inhale the fresh air .I wanted to smile for no reason not at anybody but as a reflection of joy. But I couldn’t. Somehow the gesture doesn’t suit a ‘good’ girl. As I was looking out, a group of boys appeared on the other side. Their eyes pierced me from top to bottom. And suddenly the words came out. Their gesture was improper but nobody cared. My mother hailed me inside. And warned never go out in the balcony at ‘improper’ times. I failed to comprehend, who was the victim? And who was punished?
The things which are very close to eyes often appear blurred. One such thing is culture. Culture isn’t only the performative actions of a society. Culture is the internalized reality that we live in. But everytime we fail to realize that no culture is given. It is a construct. And what we need is the eye to deconstruct it. Every dominant system is extremely vulnerable. It is precisely for this reason that it needs to be protected by various sources. Try and give your patriarchal father a book on feminism and he will refuse to read it. Not that he finds the topic non-interesting but because he is scared to encounter counter factual of his dominant ideology. And not just encounter but validly proven too. I heard that a group named MARD if very prevalent these days fighting for women’s right. While I acknowledge the issues raised by them as applauding and praise worthy, what strikes me in discord is the name MARD ( Men Against Rape and Discrimination). It cements the very gender categories that it wants to demolish. MARD as a name suggests fecundity, power, strength which interiorly reflect that a man is needed to protect a woman. Why is woman fighting for a woman’s cause is rejected as gibberish and a man ding the same is called a MARD? For instance when Bollywood actress Preity Zinta spoke about her alleged threatening from the underworld, she was hailed as the only man in Bollywood. Why didn’t she get applauded for what she did being a woman itself? It happened ten years ago. Ten long years! Has much changed since then ?
Streaks of inequality are visible in every culture. What it takes is to make that streak into an abyss by your words and thoughts. I have seen my mother keeping ‘Karwa Chauth’ ( a traditional practice of fasting for one’s husband for his long life) .It’s a celebrated ritual in India. But one never sees the socio political forces working behind it. If a woman prays for a man’s long life then who is going to pray for hers? A man is placed on a pedestal in the very daily domestic life and a woman is placed on a pedestal culturally as a goddess or ‘Devi’. I sense a cultural politics here. The hailing of a woman as goddess is a façade so that a man can be hailed as a God domestically. Even after that one’s own family and friends suggests a girl to be ‘proper’.
A talking woman is a threat to society. Why? Precisely because she dares to speak the truth that no one wants to hear. Precisely because it will make the whole system haywire and the chairs of power holders will be shaken. A talking woman is a threat in her own house. Precisely because she can deconstruct the culture that is a given to her. It is not the time to stand up and wash away the illusions so that people can see the reality. That has already been done. It is time to see the reality, accept the truth and work towards it.