As I was taking a shower this morning, a few thoughts crossed my mind. Why do we feel the need to celebrate women one day of the year when quite frankly we don’t bother to respect each other on the other 364 days? The elephant in the room is that it’s not just men that are sexist, we women are guilty of it ourselves. I get the notion of empowering women and supporting the downtrodden gender so that they’re treated kindly by future generations and current. I love being a woman and I am grateful to God for blessing me with the beautiful woman I foresee my daughter growing into. We are a sensitive, emotional and yet resilient breed. We are taught to be ‘lady-like’, to soak-up all the nonsense that may get thrown our way, in short to ‘adjust’ to a man’s world by the very women we are meant to respect. We are conditioned to live up to idealised female traits by being kind and forgiving, without expecting them to be reciprocated. Maybe that’s why we only feel the need to celebrate women for one day a year?
Throughout my life, I have been judged by the very women who lived up to those idealistic values. Growing up as a young girl, in India, I was judged by the women in my extended family for not learning to cook. I was challenged with ‘what will you feed your husband if you don’t know how to cook?’ at the usual family gatherings. I was always a keen observer in the kitchen when my Mum cooked. My curious mind often wandered toward the kitchen to catch a glimpse of her pouring ‘tadka’ into a bubbling dal or artfully patting a bhakri. Those random observations at home underpin most of the cooking I do today. But now, I get judged (with doubt and suspicion) for cooking so much traditional food from my culture, mostly by the very women who doubted if I’d ever be able to cook! When I shop for a saree in India, I get judged for unnecessarily buying a traditional outfit that they (wrongly) think I might never wear in the UK. I was judged by women in Indian society for making some key life-changing decisions that I still stand by to date. I am still judged and gossiped about by the women of my extended family, young and old, for marrying a white British man. On social media, I get judged for not teaching my daughter Marathi from the outset and rather focussing on Hindi. I get judged for being too fashionably modern to talk about traditional Maharashtrian food, thankfully by only a small section of women. In Britain, I am judged, mostly by women, for not fitting into their culture and staying true to my Indian roots. I am judged for calling out women who don’t care to pronounce my daughter’s Indian name correctly. There’s judgement all round. So tell me, why should I celebrate the women around me?
There’s no denying, I have also met some lovely women who are beautiful inside and out - on social media, in real life here in Britain and while growing up in India. They have at times helped restore my faith in womankind. But the day we all collectively stop judging our own species for the way we look, talk, dress and behave, we’d be truly worthy of this celebration. True empowerment of womanhood will follow the day we stop gossiping, passing judgement and curb the urge to compare ourselves with one another; because in today’s world where women thrive on equal opportunity with men, we need to work on ourselves just as much as supporting those truly marginalised by society.
Let's celebrate womanhood in a true sense today and every day; and only when we’ve changed our perspective towards each other. Only women can effectively empower women in the 21st century.
This is so true and profound, I have no words to express what I feel at this moment but Gratitude and more Gratitude. Thank you.
Aakriti Bisaria from Goa ( India)
So well said Riee. I am still struggling to find my words about celebrating women's day. I do appreciate the fact that we have to acknowledge women who have excelled in their fields against all odds, but it also makes me a little sad that we still need a day to acknowledge women. We still don't have that equality. I hope that changes in the coming generations. Yes, we get judged all the time by our extended families and sometimes friends too, for our life choices. You have echoed my thoughts on how there are so many expectations from women because they are women. Congratulations on writing this thoughtful article.