It was 9 in the morning and I was deep in sleep when a barrage of messages popped up on my phone, one after the other, all of them wishing me a happy Women’s Day. And, all I could think was “Oh, joy.”
Now, don’t get me wrong, being a woman is not bad. But I honestly don’t think there is anything in my life worth celebrating. And I wanted to text back to those people who woke me up this morning with their pointless messages, “What is so great about being a woman that you want me to be happy about it?”
Which brings me to the question – Am I happy being a woman in India?
The answer, of course, is no. It is a huge understatement to say that equality has not been achieved in my country. This is true because of various reasons, not the least of which is the fact that gender roles in India are steeped so deeply in cultural and religious views. When it comes to women, India has always had more rigid parameters than the Western countries. I mean, the obviously evil practices of sati and child marriage weren’t abolished until after the British decided to colonize India. Western influence has been good for us in a way.
So, women are considered equals in the Western countries, right? From a very young age, my generation of Indian youngsters have been raised to believe that the men and women of Western countries are shameless, wild people, running around fucking anything that comes in their way. Granted, they do have a very laid back attitude to sex. But in our eyes, they are promiscuous, perpetually horny people with no modesty or family values. Whereas in India, we pride ourselves on our modesty. Virginity is considered sanctimonious and holy especially when it comes to girls. But in western countries, women are not judged based on whether or not they’re virgins. They are not expected to give up their careers when they get married. So, they have achieved equality, right? I don’t think so. Sometimes I find it hard to believe the amount of hatred shown by these “Western” men towards women on the Internet. Some of their opinions make them sound like they came right from cave men times.
But let’s go back to talking about equality in India. In India, women are still expected to cook and clean and wash clothes even though we get the same education as men, the same wages as men and work at the office for the same hours everyday as men.
When I was fourteen, we had guests over at our house one day. When it was time for lunch to be served, my mother called me up and asked me to set the table. I had been watching something on the computer with my brother. I remember whining about why my brother got to keep watching the movie, but I had to do chores. My mother always asked me to do these household chores like folding clothes, serving food to people and washing dishes. It always bugged me when she didn’t ask my brother to do anything. These may seem like harmless examples, but they matter. Equality begins at home. It begins with what we teach our sons and daughters.
Women were once full-time housewives. It made sense for them to take care of all household chores. But now, most of us have jobs, but still we are expected to slave away at home. I know for a fact that many of my lady co-workers wake up several hours before their husbands do, just so they could serve coffee and breakfast to him in the morning. When will men stop feeling so entitled?
And speaking of entitled men, I have never seen my father do one household chore in my entire life. Lunch or dinner? Someone has to serve him food. Even if it is just reheating food in the microwave, he has someone else do it for him. And after the meal, he doesn’t even pick up his dirty dishes from the table, let alone wash them. Someone else has to do it for him. But the worst part is that my mother cleans up after my father with no complaints. It doesn’t occur to her that it is not normal to act this way. My father drops his dirty clothes on the floor and my mother picks them up and washes them. He litters the floor with trash and my mother cleans it up. My mother is like a servant in our house. Is this what I’m supposed to celebrate on Women’s Day?
Forget about the countless rape cases happening across India. What about treating women with respect and dignity at home? Stop looking at women as second-class citizens and the rapes and sexual assaults will definitely take a downturn.