The Unbearable Gaze…

I’m back after a hiatus to involve in some retrospection of what it is to be a woman… But before that lets trace back and look at some basic questions… What is a woman? Who is a woman?

The gray area that was always misunderstood to be the shadow… The mute spectator and bearer of the most subtle yet strong insinuations of the society.

So when does a woman take centre stage? Well, it happens when there is a vacancy for the position of upholder of culture, traditions and customs… She is vested with the responsibility to follow and uphold the good old values and make sure that her daughters follow the same path. But what purpose does it serve? The values and lifestyle of the women in the family determines the family’s respect and honor. So it is important to keep the women at home and safegaurd the honor. The interesting twist in the story comes when the girl in the family is to be married. Here, the values and honor which the girl has been carrying will be transferred to the husband and his family and it is their responsibility to make sure the girls is kept aware of it constantly…

Even the middle and upper middle class families of India are not free from such attitudes (though it is much more subtle). In my opinion, every girl who is venturing out of home to do her education and have a career, thus breaking the mould, is a hero in her own unique way. I wish I could conclude this by saying that these girls come out victorious and live happily ever after… But then, I would be lying.

The insinuations from the world around her (I include even the women) does not ever cease. A woman cannot carry out any activity mechanically even a simple one like walking on the street. There are so many things she needs to be aware of- the male gaze which never seems to end no matter where she is and what she is wearing, the gaze of the moral police who give the stink eye when the dupatta goes a little askew, the constant maneuvering in the crowd which holds the possibility of any random man groping or nudging her…. The list is endless. When my friends tease me about the privileges women get for being women I can only laugh at it. They are not privileges, they are charity and there is a heavy price women have to pay for it- their freedom… My only reply to those who belive women have more privileges is this:

“You would understand what it is to be a woman only when you become one.”

At this point let me clarify that I’m not preaching against men. I’m just stating the plight of women wherein the peretrators are both men and women who refuse to look the other way and question the norms…

To be continued in the next post…

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Published in: on August 22, 2008 at 8:48 AM  Leave a Comment  

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