What makes a Woman?

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Today, worldwide we celebrate International Women’s Day, but is it really necessary to just devote one day a year to half the world’s population?

Women today have reached the pinnacle of what they can do, with many women breaking records in achievements. At the same time, in many countries, including what is known as a first world country, women still don’t have rights over their own bodies!

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Growing up in a conservative, yet liberal household, I was always told that I can do what I want (within reason) and there was nothing that was beyond me. I remember when I first started college at the age of 16, I found out about the British Council library which was in the Central Business District in Mumbai and wanted to join it. My dad asked me to find out what was the membership fee and where it was. I did so and he handed me the money and told me how to get there and I was on my own. I went with an older friend who had also not gone there before, so we lost our way and had to ask around before we found the building and I became a member. I held that membership for almost 10 years, right after I started working and could not go to the library during work hours. I also became a member of the United States Information Service (USIS) after I started my undergraduate degree as it used to be free then for students. So every month while I was in college, I used to lug my 8 books (4 from each library) to college and after lessons ended around 11 am, I’d travel down to the libraries, before coming back home around 4 pm. My parents never held the view that since I was a young girl, I could not go to places which were far from home. I was probably the only person I knew back then who used to travel so far to get her book fix!

women-power_storyAt the same time, I always knew that I’d get married at some point and take my husband’s name. It was not done for ‘girls like us’ to show off our independence like that. But fast forward some years and I’ve done exactly what I’d never thought I’d do. I have kept my name – the first name and last name that was bestowed upon me at birth and will do so till the day I die. I’ve written about this in a post around 18 months back. As an aside, I also would like to see a world (if that’s even possible in my lifetime) where we do not take a family name which is most likely patriarchal in nature. Why do you need a last name in any case? If it’s that imperative to have one, why can’t it be that of your mother? After all, maternity can never be disputed, but paternity has to be proved, right?

1f8d4f2959f76c7420303d7a940b0b8eA woman today can have it all, and in many cases, is expected to have it all. She is judged constantly – whether she is a homemaker or a working mum and if she is not able to handle both to the satisfaction of the world, then she gets commented upon. Walking down a street in many countries for a woman means running a gamut of catcalls and comments, most, if not all, are sexual in nature. This is seen by the men in those countries as being complimentary to the woman, but for the said woman, it a creepy and extremely offensive.

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So what’s it like being a woman today? I honestly do not have an answer – my definition of being one means allowing no distinction between a man and a woman. I want to go back to the first sentence of this post – why now in 2017, do we even need a day in a year to celebrate womanhood? Shouldn’t every day be a celebration? We don’t celebrate International Men’s Day, do we, then why one for women? Women are more or less half the world’s population, so why this distinction? Why are women still perceived to be the weaker sex? I’d bet if any man had to undergo a natural delivery or even have periods every month for close to 50 odd years of his life, he’d acknowledge with loads of humility that women are indeed the stronger sex (not to mention, all the hidden pink taxes that women pay which would be a thing of the past).

Anyway, that’s all wishful thinking. I’d love to hear from my women readers – what you think makes a woman? How would you like womanhood to be celebrated?

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