To Be a Woman in the 21st Century

Op-ed

The story of women's struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organisation but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights . ~ Gloria Steinem

Woman. When I think of the word woman, the first person that comes to my mind is my mother. The woman who gave birth to my brother, my sister and me, the woman who lost her brother, the woman who got married at the age of twenty and that too to the man her father wanted her to marry. She wakes up every morning, cooks for us, cleans the house, has been working for a living since before the birth of my brother. I love listening to her voice, no matter how irritating it is, it’s like if I don’t hear her voice 50 times a day, I will probably die. I sometimes sit with her just to listen about her life before she got married. When I listen to her stories, I realise how much this woman has dealt with patriarchy and how she has come a long way.

Patriarchy is not something that only my mom has dealt with, in fact, every girl, every woman struggles every single day to have a life of her own. We may have come a long way but the fight is not over, not yet. Gender discrimination is a huge problem even today. I remember when we were having our farewell and the batch that was organising the farewell, the girls were not allowed to wear sleeveless and when I complained about how this was wrong, someone said that I was being a pseudo-feminist. You see when women stand up for each other, we are given the tag of feminists and when people hear that you are a feminist, they think that we are asking for more rights than men. They mistake feminism for pseudo-feminism. We forget about equity. We forget the enemy here is misogyny not the woman asking for equal rights.

I remember when my college started, I was terrified to take the metro alone. Why? I was terrified that if I wore sleeveless dresses/tops or skirts, people are going to stare at me. After a few months, I realised that people stared at me no matter what I wore. But the number of people who stared at me when I wore a skirt or dress was more than when I wore Indian clothes (like kurta, suit, etc) or pants. You see people judge us based on our clothes, if we are wearing short clothes, we are asking for it. Yes, these things still exist and it’s not just men, women discriminate against each other too. The older generation was taught that patriarchy is supposed to be the way of life and it still exists in their minds. But sometimes even clothes don’t matter, I was wearing an oversized t-shirt and pants when I was harassed on the DTC bus.

Coming to my next point, rape. Men and women both get raped and rape is not acceptable. Touching someone without their permission, making someone uncomfortable is not acceptable. To all those people who blame it on the victim, that it was their fault, that they stepped outside at unusual time or wore revealing clothes, and that they should have made a mature decision, the thing is that it’s not about being mature, the person who rapes is a predator and they should be punished. Rape is not just an act of physical abuse but it affects the survivor’s mental health too.

Have you ever met a couple in which the wife was fairer than the husband? People do discriminate against women based on their skin colour and the sad thing is that women discriminate against each other. The fairer the woman, the prettier she is but we forget the fact someone skin colour cannot determine someone’s worth. If a woman is too fat or too thin, according to the society she is not pretty. If she is wearing too little or is out at night, according to the society she is asking for it. If a woman asks for equal pay or fights for her rights, she is a pseudo-feminist. I think we have let the society determine our worth for way too long, I think it’s time we let people tell who they are instead of letting a group of homophobic, racist, sexist, sadist people decide.

Now that I look at my mother, I see a woman who grew up in a male dominated house, got married into a male dominated house but never let patriarchy affect the way she mothered her children. She never differentiates between her children. I wished I was a guy everytime in school a teacher pulled me aside just to embarrass me because the length of my skirt was not appropriate, or a middle-aged aunty or a man was staring at me because I wasn’t wearing something that was acceptable to them or I was told to wear shorts under my dress or skirt because I was a girl or everytime I whistled, someone or the other pointed out that it was not lady-like and because of many other such incidents. But my mother taught me about the importance of a woman in this world, she told me that if it wasn’t for a woman, no man would have been born, she told me that all humans are alike. She is my idol.

A woman who wears less is not a slut.

A woman who wears more is not a prude.

A fat woman is beautiful.

A skinny woman is beautiful.

A trans woman is beautiful.

A dark-skinned woman is beautiful.

A pale woman is beautiful.

A young woman is beautiful.

An old woman is beautiful.

Every woman is beautiful.

Everything that nature has provided us with is beautiful.

Just remember that you exist because a woman gave birth to you. She works as hard as a man to earn the respect she deserves. She is not weak, she is way stronger and more powerful than you think she is. Don’t underestimate her.

Here is to strong women: may we know them, may we be them, may we raise them. ~Unknown

Click on the link to have a look at all the women who have inspired me.

https://www.instagram.com/simran_tutejaa

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Simran Tuteja

Simran Tuteja is 19 year old undergraduate student majoring in mathematics from the University of Delhi. She started writing when she was clinically depressed and dealing with anxiety and she wants to become a successful writer. Simran enjoys writing short stories, poems and articles.


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