I’ll stick to talking about the “Cosmopolitan” and “Educated” people in India.
Before I begin my rant on the various prices and taxes women pay here, I am going to say this out louder – not every woman has to. There are women who are lucky enough to be born in the right place, where people have their mental balance right and aren’t entirely out of their mind or simply pathetic. There are also women who get married into the right households, where they are loved and taken care of, where their needs are looked after and their loved ones respected. Alongside, there are women that are married into households where they get a few, or one, or if they are bitterly unlucky, then none of the ‘privileges’ mentioned above.
I was lucky to be the daughter to two wonderful people, who did nothing but cherish me every minute of everyday. They raised me well. They brought me up to command respect and tolerate nothing short of it. They brought me up to give love in abundance and to always know my place. They raised me to love those younger and respect those older to me, irrespective of where they come from or who they may be. At the same time, they taught me that if I couldn’t give myself enough respect then I couldn’t expect anyone else to.
Then, I got married and gave it a thought. So here are the various prices I’ve seen many girls pay in this country:
The price of a childhood (obviously, only applicable to ‘the girl child’)
Growing up most women pay by having to feel grateful and thankful for having parents that allow them to speak, or allow them to pursue a career of their choice, or that they aren’t forced to do something they don’t want to do. You’ll hear women say that they’re lucky their parents aren’t pressurising them to get married or sit a certain way or stand in another or talk in a particular manner. Does anyone else also see a problem here or, is it just me? Why does a woman have to feel ‘lucky’ to not have her personal space infringed upon? Why must she feel blessed to have people support her? Is that the standard we are setting now? In case people haven’t realised yet, it was always her right. I’m not trying to belittle parents that give that freedom and support, I am in awe of them. Nonetheless, it is a rather sad state of affairs.
I don’t understand why anybody is doing anyone a favour by letting them make their own life choices. I don’t understand why one should feel “so very blessed” to have parents that let them study as much as they let their son study. Come on, that’s an attitude we should have left behind a few decades ago.
The price of youth
It’s a wonderful world. The price we women pay for growing up or for ‘adulthood’ is a massive one. After deciding what we do, where we go and what direction our life takes, in the larger sense, will take, now they want to decide what time we step out, how we dress, and possibly even monitor if our breasts become more ‘palatably large’ when we breathe than acceptable. I won’t be surprised when we’re told that we seduce a cheap filthy piece of flesh on the road by the way we breathe or by our smell. I am only waiting for that one to happen. We are taught fear, every waking moment of everyday, ever since we grow up. Life becomes restricted to a house, a home or sometimes a room even.
The price we pay for growing up and growing a pair of breasts or having our vaginas shaven is that of an exhausting fear and a youth where walking on the street without fearing rape feels like a distant dream.
Perhaps, before spending energy trying to curb female feticide, we should make the world a liveable place for the women-to-be foetuses which we are running to save. What’s the point of bringing them into the world only to raise them to fear for their lives every waking moment?
What is the point of raising them to live like dogs, owned by unfriendly owners, abused and broken by loss of all their dreams.
The price of marriage
I had an arranged marriage. You’d imagine, if problems did occur, they’d be between the couple – you know, all the surprises that come along when you suddenly start living with a stranger. It isn’t that in my case. I love my husband. However, I often get exhausted trying just to juggle two families and keep them alongside each other. The problem begins where one thinks they should be superior to another. I don’t see why giving birth to a girl means you lose the right to enjoy your child’s wedding as much as a boy’s family can. I don’t understand why you automatically become responsible to ensure the “boy’s side” has fun and is well taken care of. I don’t understand why the same isn’t reciprocated. Shouldn’t that be a norm as well? Hypocrisy at it’s best – you’ll see the mother/ sister/ any other female member of the groom’s family be the first to point a finger.
It’s just brilliant how we women degrade ourselves with our attitude everyday and expect the “world” to treat us as equals.
The price of motherhood (or absence of)
When a woman gets married she almost automatically transforms into ababy making machine. Nobody even considers the idea that maybe, she doesn’t want to have a child. Or even worse, maybe she cannot. I don’t understand why people are so hellbent on taking forward their “legacy” through a child. Well, if you do really really want it, by all means, go ahead and have a baby; but just because you want it, doesn’t mean another person cannot NOT want it. Besides, the world is heavily over populated and there’s scarcity of water. And in case you haven’t noticed, pretty much the entire world is at war. If you really loved your potential child, wouldn’t you rather not bring them into this world to fulfil your selfish need? Anyway, that’s a personal choice. It should always remain one.
Irrespective, prices women pay have often been lack of choice, freedom or dignity. None of which should be the case. I hope one day, we do away with these and a woman can choose to live her life the way she’d like to without being watched, degraded or controlled.
This post was submitted by P.