Nature does not differentiate between a man and a woman, save for just one aspect — that the weakest part of a man’s body is the strongest of a woman’s. And yet, umpteen number of books, movies, dialogues, dinner-table and board-room conversations alike are centered around the differences between women and men, Venus and Mars.
Sadly, these differences have always meant big business. Innumerable marketing and sales strategies have been built around these — it’s pink for a girl and blue for a boy; doll houses for a girl and cars for a boy.
But what is more disturbing is the fact that since time immemorial, women have been conditioned to conform to erroneous societal expectations and norms. She has always been told to act like a lady. Sit properly. Speak softly. Suffer silently. Smile. Be gentle. Be impeccably dressed. Have a happy home. Raise kids. Look young. Work well. Be perfect.
She is taught and repeatedly reminded to be a superwoman — to be the Perfect Wife, the Perfect Mother, the Perfect Friend, the Perfect Daughter, the Perfect Employee and the roles are endless. She has often been chastised for the smallest of slip-ups; never given the luxury of being anything less than perfect.
While today women-centric issues are coming to light, the treatment of women as the second sex may not be resolved just through government schemes and corporate policies. There needs to be a change in the minds of women themselves to truly champion the cause of women empowerment. Women need to accept the fact that to err is human and embrace their own imperfections.
While we have come a long way from the ‘abla-nari’ representation of women, the fairly recent and increasingly popular portrayal of the urban, independent woman has received eye-rolls and flak from men and women alike.
The seemingly flawed portrayal of the urban, independent woman in a LBD (for the uninitiated — a little black dress); sporting short hair, red lipstick and stilettos; smoking, drinking, dancing, getting tattooed and mouthing profanity with abandon was probably designed to represent women shunning flawed societal standards. However, this depiction is often misconstrued to be the new age definition of the 21st century woman in its literal sense.
Being a woman in 2018 means or at the very least should mean to be ‘brave’. Brave enough to make choices, make mistakes and learn; Brave enough to be free from the shackles of prejudices and predetermined notions. Brave enough to be home-makers, divorcees, single mothers, widows, or the ‘career-oriented’ woman with or sans kids and a family. Brave enough to raise their voices, ask questions, find their place under the sun. Brave enough to be the architect of one’s own dreams, the sailor of one’s ship, and the author of one’s life.
Most importantly, being a woman should mean to be brave enough to accept one’s imperfections and to not cower in the shadows of self-doubt.
While we do need to teach our boys to support women and cheer them on, it is of vital importance that we teach our daughters, mothers, sisters and wives to be brave, and not chase glorious perfection.
Brave women will help us build the world where women don’t need to assert their right to sit at the table; where no new tables are to be created for women; and where no glass ceilings are to be shattered.