I’m a woman, a woman who smokes! So what?
A woman smoking cigarettes is not usually a frequent sight in India today, but nevertheless, there are a few women who smoke. When I speak about smoking, I’m referring only to cigarettes and not ‘mouth-fagging’. Usually when we see a woman smoking our first reaction is, “Oh my god! Look at her! She’s smoking!! That’s disgusting!” well, maybe not saying it out loud, but this sentence definitely goes on in our head when we see a woman smoke. Now, when we see a guy smoking, what’s our reaction? Nothing, we just ignore and walk away. This is exactly the mentality I’m talking about. If you’re thinking about telling me how ‘dangerous’ or ‘harmful’ cigarettes are, when it comes to a woman smoking, then you should first look at your friend or neighbor or any man that you know who smokes and say the same.
I’m not encouraging you or anyone to ‘smoke’, but the only problem I have is with people who find it stereotypically wrong when a woman smokes, but are least bothered when a man does the same. This middle aged woman was passing by a man and a woman who were smoking near a chai shop, and the only thing she had to say was, “Women today are getting so spoiled. What are parents teaching them nowadays?” Ridiculous, because the man was smoking there too, and she chose to ignore his act. As I walked behind her, I wasn’t surprised by the comment she made on that woman because I knew that she was raised by the mentality that women are only ‘supposed’ to stay inside the house. But, even though this country is modernizing itself along with women who are breaking stereotypes and coming out bold today, there are still many people who have a problem with a woman doing the same thing a man does. I’m not even asking you to influence women to smoke more now, I’m only asking you to be rational and fair. It’s simple, you see a man smoking and you continue walking pretending that nothing happened, even when you unintentionally inhale the smoke, but when a woman smokes, it’s that thought that comes to your head that, ‘women smoking’ is a taboo or is stereotypically wrong. Smoking cigarettes is wrong, but why discriminate the practice based on gender when it comes to diminishing bad habits of people? There are a million reasons why that woman smokes. Have you asked a man why he smokes or you just didn’t bother? Have you ever tried thinking about why a woman smokes? Some women don’t care, they’d probably yell back at you if they hear you commenting on them, but why are you even arising at that situation? Sometimes they smoke because it’s trendy or cool or just to fit in the group, but yet again, their character is judged based on that one act. Maybe she smokes because she is an addict and she can’t do anything about it even if she tries.
So, stop judging a woman’s character with just a stick of tobacco in her hand because you don’t know what she’s been through and if you really want to change the mentality of people who smoke thinking it is cool or trendy, then start with the men. Let’s see how you first break the stereotype by targeting women for doing the same as men. So, stop making disgusted faces when you see a woman smoke and it’s high time you react in the same way when you see a man smoking.
About the Author: This article is contributed by Sonia David, our Intern. Sonia is a funky and sweet girl who is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Arts in Communicative English from Jyoti Nivas College, Autonomous in Bangalore. She loves writing, sketching and reading. She believes that women deserve much more and together, women can turn the world right side up!