Tuesday, October 17, 2006

on women's lib

“Gone are the days when a woman sat reticently huddled in the corner of a room waiting for orders from the male chauvinists. Today, she is modern, yet with a traditional free thinking spirit and looks for challenges rather than wait for an opportunity to knock.
She is ‘comfortably conservative’. She chooses to take on the continuity of familial ties but can be an iconoclast when she turns away from established practices. She believes in her capacity to excel in whatever she has chosen for herself. She has a positive attitude towards life. Her self-confidence is intact. She definitely has an opinion.
Her progress has been in leaps and bounds in the field of education. Today she is financially independent & no longer depends on her father or her brother for survival. Indeed, she comes out unscathed by any of the terrible storms she endures in her life. The woman of today holds top positions in all fields of work, be it in government or industry. The woman of today has carved a niche for herself even in the armed forces that have been a male bastion from time immemorial.
She deserves to be applauded for her endeavour to contribute to the still incomplete process of nation building. The need of the hour is to understand that a woman can do more than just nurture home & hearth - that she can step out into the world and excel in whatever she has chosen for herself.”

I came across this piece of writing when I was looking through some random files on my computer. I do not even remember when I wrote this or why. But reading this, and gauging my own reactions to it, it occurred to me that people change so drastically over the years that they become unrecognisable even to themselves. She can be an iconoclast…that is what I have said. Now, I wonder if all this is really true. Not just that, it makes me wonder if all this talk about women’s liberation really makes sense. What is women’s lib anyway? What if they do not want to be liberated? It set me thinking about the many women I have met and known in the 24 short years I have walked this earth. The first woman who came to my mind was my great grandmother. She died in 1999 at the age of 82…or was it 83? I really do not remember. She was as conservative a woman as you could find at the end of the 20th century. Yet, she exuded a confidence that is rare to find even in the most successful career woman of the 21st century. She had a firm conviction that she could survive the odds, whatever they may be. And she did. Till the end. Yet, she was not what one would commonly expect of a “liberated” woman. She was liberated all right. She could have lived any way she wanted to…had she wanted to. She chose not to cross the limits laid down by a “male chauvinistic” society. No regrets and a life well lived.

That brings me to the end of my first blog post. The need of the hour is to understand that a woman can do more than just nurture home & hearth. That makes no sense to me any more. I have realised in the process of growing up from a rebellious teen to a mature (??) woman that by nurturing home and hearth a woman can probably accomplish more than she can by proclaiming to the world that she is a man’s equal. I have realised that a woman is not a man’s equal. I have realised that men and women are different and will always be. I take pride in being a woman because I am (theoretically?) capable of more patience and more love than a man. Now, I do not know if I am capable of it, but I certainly know that women are capable of it. After all, as Simone de Beauvoir said, “Vive la différence!!”

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