indi

keep the day

sorry but i find the international women’s day one of the most patronising notions ever.

read up a bit on its genesis, saw why women back in the early 1900s way before we had the right to vote and, of course, when women were working hard and not being paid as much as men (still the case in many/most places) thought of the idea… and i fully empathise.

but in the form it exists today, set in place by institutions that really have lost their shine and aren’t as world changing as they thought they were, and reduced to “greetings” to all us “lovely women,” i am afraid i can’t feel anything but this funny anger at the condescension.

i am part of an entire gender.

yes, a whole gender.

a gender without which life as we know it cannot exist… and that’s exactly so and true of the other gender as well. not as if nature gives you a choice… hey human, do you want to be all men or all women? no… both these sets of living beings are totally needed for the human species to be around, and so are absolutely equal in nature. my gender constitutes about half the number of people that exist in this world.

i am a woman.

i give birth, i love, i bring up the next gen, i fly planes, i defend my nation, i work in the field, i write, i teach (and not just in school or college), i create software, i head companies, i design communications, i travel miles to work as a maid in another country so i can feed my children back home and in the process send in billions of dollars to my nation contributing to its gdp significantly (ah, money, the only thing that a certain kind of world has decided, matters).

when i die my fam falls apart till another mother is found, when i am widowed i bring up my kids and keep the family together with whatever resources are at hand… too many people have gone through this to deny it happens, and all the time. yeah, sometimes i fail… but most times, not. i am human.

i am a doctor, i am an engineer, i am a lawyer… i am also a wife, a mother, a daughter in law… i am “given away” when i get married… doesn’t matter which religion, which culture, which age… i am commoditised and packaged and passed on. yeah, that happens to me, and yet i don’t lose it and go on a rampage dissing the universe…

i am “honour killed” and yet i go to school, study, learn, embrace the world, love, become chess champion.

i work “only to stay occupied” because otherwise it might seem as though the man/men in my life have failed to earn enough and that would completely ruin my status in society. if i say i work because i want to and also because i like to earn money, there are quaking hearts looking at me wondering where i’ve hidden my horns and tail. among them, there are women… yeah, that happens all the time.

i fall prey to a thousand million nonsensical ideas of beauty. i suffer, i go double zero, i stop eating happily, i go ballistic wondering if my thigh is too fat even when i am a beauty icon, i die of anorexia, but at some point i begin to think and fight the whole thing. i return to a state of balance till the next wave of trying to “fit into” a society that makes me an object comes tsunamiing in. i have been through this many times, in many generations, in many ways, but i am still here.

heck, i survive patriarchy.

at its most basic level, it is simply might over right. and for all of human existence i have suffered through it and survived it. yes, survived it and kept my head, my heart, my body, my mind, my thoughts. my ability to love. to feel. to nurture.

in the beginning it was perhaps more honest, because it was based on instinct. i wasn’t there so i can’t tell… but being physically weaker couldn’t have been fun in the cave.

then came the use of the human mind to create society… and i got assigned a place. a place which was inherently the second one. no matter how beautifully the ideas were worded.

i didn’t balk at it and cave in. i played the game the best i could. i perhaps even believed for a while this was the only way. but within me something stayed alive, i kept wondering, even as life kept coming at me, and questions rose in my mind… why, why can’t i read the holy book, why can’t i go to school, why must i marry a man who is ninety when i am only ten so that i belong to the prized layer within my caste even if as a widow, why must i not be monarch even if i am the eldest, why must i be thrown into the pyre of my husband even if i am alive, why must i keep quiet when my husband plays around, why must i be sold in the brothel, why must i feed the whole family first before i eat the leftovers, why must i never ask for anything for myself for then i’d be called selfish, oh there were more than enough questions and each one of us had our own, no matter which age or which place we belonged to.

for yes, of course there has been discrimination against many groups of human beings at many times and places… on the basis of colour, religion, race, culture, education, physical and mental disabilities, weight (oh how can i forget that), height, and more. but really, this discrimination against an entire gender, forever and everywhere… unthinkable scale and brought about by means both foul and seemingly fair (we are doing this to protect you… i mean, why should i need this “protection” after… how many… ten thousand and more years of “civilization”?)

and yet, i never gave in.

i really don’t need a day assigned to me to celebrate being me. i am having too good a time to waste it on your feel good moment. that pretense at “civilization.”

if you really mean business, let’s turn the story a bit… let’s have a couple of millennia of serious matriarchy and see how the other gender does in that system… when to be “equal” you have to be able to do the things i can do. see how it messes with your mind and reduces you in terrifying ways. see if you can live through it and stay sane.

i am sure the world will carry on being hypocritical and essentially patriarchal for as long as i live. i am no world changer but really, there’s so much of ridiculousness one can take.

i am being trafficked, raped, beaten, unequally paid, treated badly by in laws, aborted before birth, acid attacked more than ever before. but, hey, i am still here. and smiling. i am happy to be who i am despite all that’s been. it’s a privilege to have been a born a woman. if there’s a next life, hope to be born a woman once more. what day are you talking about.

 

 

picture credit: those are shots of four generations of women from my family, my ma in law and her mother, my mother and her mother, and my kid and me. so many more i wish i could add there… some from other times other spaces.

indrani’s index

 

Originally posted Mar 8 2016

 

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10 Comments

  • ladkikijhy@gmail.com'
    Reply
    ladkikijhy
    March 8, 2016 at 12:14 pm

    Wonderful piece Indi di. I hate all these days and this one especially seems downright patronising as you say. i remember reading a piece on how there are very few women if one were to list out the greatest inventors, scientists etc and its due to the gender notions which have persisted from the start of humanity, that whole set of people were stopped from pursuing things based on gender. It’s man’s work not cut out for women, they say. How much we put up with just on the basis of what is considered as tradition and culture.

    • Reply
      indrani robbins
      March 8, 2016 at 1:07 pm

      thanks so much, lady k. i am livid as is hahhah evident. how they reduce us to a thing. and we say fine to it… i have done that too often not to know how easy it is not to see what’s going on. mozart it seems had an elder sister most gifted, his dad didn’t bother with her. einstein’s first wife was a classmate of his in college, a physicist herself, and the only woman in the class… her father was encouraging and allowed her top study i think… they are still debating whether she contributed to einstein’s work… what also gets me is this making less of what women do… everything that we do… from being mothers to running homes, bringing up families… everything to some not that important activity. such nonsense. 🙂

      culture. examining it is really interesting. why is our “being virtuous” is so imp? oh all that chastity belt and rubbish. all about money, property, land… and us also seen as things that help keep it all together.

  • Reply
    DurgaS
    March 8, 2016 at 1:55 pm

    Well said Indi. Well worded too.. All the pathos a girl feels due to this ridiculous discrimination, right up there. From the day she’s born, she’s slapped with a list of conditions. Don’t do this, don’t do that, don’t go there, don’t talk with them. Ever growing conditions and by the time she’s a teen, she’d feel its rather easy to list out the things she’s allowed to do, for they’re just a few. Since ages, she’s been treated as a commodity. Sadly today, in many places, she’s still treated as one.

    • Reply
      indrani robbins
      March 8, 2016 at 6:01 pm

      thanks, durga. what you say is abs true… only girls i guess will understand this whole thing. i loved the poem.

  • poroma.rebello@gmail.com'
    Reply
    Poroma Munshi Rebello
    March 8, 2016 at 7:33 pm

    Indi, well said! You articulated everything I feel. Humbug of having a special day for women – maybe because no other day (even this one) – is for her. Women’s day is just another way of saying – hey you sorry bunch, we dedicate a day for you – just so you know we know you’re around. Downright insulting and farcical. Just like I get irritated by people telling men – learn to respect women! Meaning what exactly? How come nobody tells women – learn to respect men. Because everyone takes for granted that men are respected anyway. Single largest group which has been victimized, across centuries, is women. Doubt it will ever change, perhaps for one big reason – all things being equal, physical strength will ensure women are kept disadvantaged forever. There’s no other aspect which separates the genders really.

    • Reply
      indrani robbins
      March 8, 2016 at 7:44 pm

      hi poroma,
      yes, “Single largest group which has been victimized, across centuries, is women…” says it all really. remember writing that on my blog many years ago. and yet we are here and grinning our head off, so there. exactly, men, just by virtue of the gender they are born into automatically are respected… within a framework that is all about men and their existence, a woman is “allowed” to have her “say” and her “day.” hahhah, don’t need it. thanks so much for reading your old friend’s rant.

  • achala.srivatsa@gmail.com'
    Reply
    Achala
    March 9, 2016 at 11:55 am

    Wonderfully written. Hats off Indi or as they say in today’s world -Hat’s Of:) Why can’t I share this?

    • Reply
      indrani robbins
      March 9, 2016 at 11:59 am

      thank you, sir… and may the hat’s always be of. whaddyamean you can’t share? of course, can lah.

  • myztikal84@gmail.com'
    Reply
    Jess
    March 9, 2016 at 6:27 pm

    Exactly this! I don’t understand why a day needs to be assigned to international women’s day, especially when it does nothing to change how the world STILL treats us. I don’t understand what they’re celebrating about.

    It feels like this: “Congratulations women, you survived, you go girl! Here’s a day to remind you that on every other day apart from this day, we’ll continue treating you like you’re not worth so much. A bit, but not much.” All fluff. Empower this, empower that. Shut up already. I don’t need to celebrate any day except my birthday; I know my existence is making at least one man’s life a bit harder.

    • Reply
      indrani robbins
      March 9, 2016 at 7:23 pm

      hyuk hyuk… “one man’s life a little harder,” now that’s a super cool reason to be giddy happy you be a woman. yup… rubbish sop and we are leaping around congratulating each other. because it’s become such a habit to live in a world where you’re not the preferred gender… sorry adored, genuflected to, even aspired to gender.

      what freaks me out is how the importance of what women do and do mighty well is treated like some ah, that’s nothing stuff. she’s only a mother.. she is only good at keeping house, bringing up kids, making people happy, she is only a good cook, she is only someone who understands when no one else does… aaah she’s nuffin… she’s not ceo. whatever.

      make sure the man’s life remains tough and all thanks to you. 🙂

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