Breaking Free!

I was born into an average, middle class defence family. I was the first child in my family and fortunately or unfortunately, I was a girl. My family belongs to the state of Haryana, a state well known for female foeticide. Hence, I’d like to think I won half the race when I came out of my mother’s womb. As a child, gender issues never really bothered me since I never had to face any major discrimination at home. Of course there was the occasional jab from my grandmother and the blatant way she would prefer my younger brother over me. But my parents never seemed to be bothered by the fact that I was a girl. They never preferred my brother over me for anything. So, I figured I was quite blessed. From a very early age, I was taught to wear ‘decent’ clothes, not to speak too loudly and not to trust anyone from the opposite gender, all of which I inculcated obediently, since I had also always been taught that my elders, especially my parents, are always right no matter what. Thus, I wore the right clothes, barely interacted with boys, particularly since I studied in an all girls school until 6th grade and gradually because of so many restrictions became quite self-conscious. I was quite complacent with my life, up until I changed schools in 7th grade. I joined Sanskriti School, where I spent the remaining years of my school life. This was a co-ed school which became awkward for me at first. However, gradually I adjusted to my new surroundings and acclimatized myself to the liberal atmosphere. This school was unlike anything I had ever experienced. Instead of just blindly following everyone else, it taught me to question, think for my own self and choose my own path in life. As soon as I learned this, I realized a lot of things. The most important one being that my parents, and most of the elders around me, were not really the liberal feminists they liked to boast they were. Yes, I was given an education at par, if not superior, to a lot of boys my age. Yes, I had unlimited career options in front of me. Yes, I had it better than a lot of girls my age. But, there were also subtle differences in the way my parents treated me and my brother because I was the ‘girl’ child. I could never wear shorts in front of the domestic help so as to prevent my short clothes from ‘provoking’ him. I was just expected to do the serving when the guests came home, just like I was always the one my mother asked to help in the cleaning. I was also discouraged from going outdoors because of the ‘bad men’ just waiting to find their next prey. The explanation given to me every time I raised objections was that they couldn’t control the world so they controlled me. In a way, it seemed fair. Delhi is extremely unsafe for women. But it also made me wonder about the solution, if there in fact was any. No matter how strict the laws to protect the women, crimes against them just go on increasing. The reason which seems to stand out to me is the way we, as a society, are raised. After all, getting raped is a bigger taboo in our society than raping. We have created a society which gives men a pat on the back for having sex and alternately calls women whores and sluts for the very same act. We are taught that because women are weaker biologically, and because ‘men will be men’ the only solution is to control the seemingly weaker sex, the victims. Because hey, they are the ones who are crying about it. So, it is only fair that they change themselves. So we are taught to restrict ourselves, be scared of men, which only proves to them that they do in fact have a stronger position in society and can thus, get away with forcing themselves on women. It is this feeling of power and dominance that they feed upon. Thus, all we really need to do is change the way we think. Why can’t the woman be the head of the family? Why can’t the husband change his last name? Why does the man have to earn more than the woman? Why can’t cooking and cleaning be taught to both boys and girls? These are just very small steps which can hopefully alter our world and help eliminate one evil amongst a myriad of others, help a young girl to feel confident enough to walk to the nearest metro station alone after sunset and not have to run to the women’s compartment. Let’s bring a revolution in our minds. Let’s break free from the chains controlling us, telling us how to behave.  

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Respect Women

Respect Women- 'Get the Guts' aims to awaken the humanity in men as well as women. We are a group of enthusiasts who want to bring change online & offline.