“Confession is good for the soul even after the soul has been claimed” (p. 381).”
― Mona Rodriguez
“A fair, beautiful, 5’5, educated girl wanted for a groom of a wealthy family”, an advertisement that perfectly defines our so called perfect society. Everyone in our society wishes a pretty bahurani. Weird as it sounds it is actually true. For marriage, if a girl doesn’t fit to the above mentioned criteria, she then is not fit for it.
The question is not about the preference but about how society has constructed the very image of woman. They are not treated as any other normal being on this planet but are often romanticized and fanaticized as if she is a mirage which is imaginary and not real. The very idea of a ‘pious’ woman is problematic because if at all there is any such criteria, that is unknown to any woman but men apparently seem very knowledgeable about it. For instance, if a woman is covered from head to toe, society calls her backward, if she is wearing clothes which she is comfortable with, say jeans or top for instance, society calls her ultra modern. If I may ask how do you define a good woman, no matter how stupid and illogical it sounds, people say a good lady eats less, doesn’t talk too much, doesn’t laugh loudly, makes home a better place to live, considers her husband and children her world etc.
A woman is either labeled an angel or a devil, as if she is a product that needs a good marketing name so that she could be soldfor a good price. She is considered an angel if she cares, returns your love, wears a sari or a suit, is a virgin and is beautiful of course; but a devil if she lacks even one of these qualities.
How men perceive women is rather funny, a woman for them is someone who can turn their house into a home, a home where they are expected to lose their identity and acquire a role that society wants them to play. A woman will be regarded as “charitraheen” or “characterless” if she leaves or divorces her husband for another man while it is okay for any man to leave his wife and marry or have an affair with another woman for that matter, because our great society will not question the man’s character but will definitely raise a finger against the woman or even outcast her from society.
When a woman is raped, society says, “oh that girl! Did you see how she was dressed, my god. It was her fault. She was asking for it”, or “arey ye koi tarika hai raat ke 8 baje koi shareef ladki ghar se nahi nikalti. Ab jo hua hai woh usi ki galti hai”.
Okay, let’s say for argument sake I agree to this statement that maybe when you dress provocatively, men tend to undergo some hormonal changes which forces them against their wishes to rape the girl or when a girl roams around after 8 pm, poor men have no choice but to rape them, but then, if I may ask what forces a forty-year-old or older man to rape a five year old or younger girl? Is she dressed provocatively? Or is she out playing after 8 pm?
Bette Davis, an American actress noted for her willingness to play unsympathetic, sardonic characters, once said, “When a man gives his opinion, he is a man, but when a woman gives her opinion, she is a bitch”.
Now let me tell you what really a man desires of a woman and mind you the list is way too long but here are a very few of the many grounds on which a man judges a woman. Firstly, intelligence, a big ‘NO’, because how can A MAN tolerate her ideas and her opinions, she is a woman and therefore, she has no say in any matter. She should just listen quietly and obey what her man tells her. Secondly, if a man is single and in a relationship with a woman, the woman is expected to forget her friends, not go out with anyone else but her boyfriend, should cover her up and still manage to look pretty and should be loyal enough to sleep with him. Thirdly, a woman if married, is then expected to give an heir who can continue the family’s name and God forbid, if due to some reason she is not able to do so, she is thrown out or is treated like a dog or a bad omen. Fourthly, she is not supposed to work and even if she does, she expected to handle her home like a machine.
An ideal married woman is someone who has a beautiful face, a perfectly toned attractive body yet be cultured, religious, must cook really well, wash laundry, look after her children because they are just her responsibility, should be able to attend to a man’s sexual desires wherever and whenever possible for she has no right to get tired or have a say in any matter but to conform because she is nothing more than an object of amusement and a walking talking yet submissive robot. That’s all; this ain’t much, is it?
But of course, if a woman desires not to be labeled or wants to taste the fresh air of freedom or be treated equally or wishes to be the master of her own will, my God, how dreadful is that! How rude and horribly selfish of her.
People say if you want to make a cat yours, you offer her milk and fish; they are selfish beings and would not even think twice about their masters. But why label them as selfish beings? How is it selfish to think for oneself, when everyone else does?
“There never will be complete equality until women themselves help to make laws and elect lawmakers.”
― Susan B. Anthony
[Anusha Halim (2014) is a postgraduate student in the Department of English. She can be reached via email at: anushahalim [at] jamiajournal.com]