‘She sat still and waited for the sign of approval from her husband.’
Oddly, I haven’t taken this sentence straight out of a novel but the level of familiarity accompanying it is honestly unnerving. You’d expect that in the 21st century, hearing something like that would be eccentric; yet here we are.
The ideology of a woman as a trophy for display originated in the past when the sole purpose of a woman was to be the wife. She was to stay at home and take care of her family in exchange for the security of the breadwinner i.e. the husband. Times have changed, nonetheless, people still continue to leave careless remarks, not knowing the imprint they leave behind.
‘May I speak to the man of the house?’ ‘
You run like a girl.’
‘Is that what you’re wearing?’
The issue here is that our society still struggles to accept those who don’t fit into their standardised avatars, and this causes unwanted distress. For example, as a woman should not feel as if it is a necessity for her to be with her child from day till night. No, her husband is not babysitting today. It is his child too.
Sadly, women always find themselves playing this coerced role. I was getting ready to go downstairs for my 17th birthday party. It was a small get-together consisting of only close family. I looked at my reflection in the mirror opposite me. I felt pretty. It was an outfit inspired by a series of aesthetic images on Pinterest. But as I walked downstairs, I could feel the heavy stares targeting me as my mum pulled me to the side. I was confused as I listened to her words.
The criterion for a woman was not met. And this was the moment, ladies and gentlemen, where the tower of confidence, which took years to build, collapsed within a split second.
Often, we forget that we don’t need validation from others to live as we please. It is essential that we work to break the images that society has crafted of women/females playing a similar role to the women in a Shakespearean play. Even the number of children’s fairy tales I’ve read with the woman waiting for a strong man to save her is just boundless. She is not a computer programmed to conduct domestic chores and she is not a damsel in distress. She is her own person.
This leads me to wonder “How can we shatter these conceptions?” Next time, confront the perpetrator instead of staying quiet. It is important that we voice our opinions in the moment rather than dwell on what we could have done in the past. However derogatory you think they may sound, maintain a calm and composed posture as you respond with ‘Why is that?’. The intention here is not to completely undermine another individual but to allow them to reflect upon the absurdity of their words. Perhaps, they’ll be able to understand and educate themselves; thus you are taking the first step into the reformation of how our society perceives women.
A woman does not need approval from anyone but herself. We are all our own people; no two people in this universe are the same. Equality is not only part of our rights but also part of human decency, so don’t hesitate to respond to critical remarks however harmless they may seem!